The idea to form UNNGOF was to establish a broad-based national body for diverse NGOs to come together in pursuit of a collective agenda of engagement with Government and other development actors.

Under the auspices of Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (DENIVA), a meeting of interested organisations and individuals was convened to chart a way forward on forming a new forum. To steer the process, a committee was formed in 1995, between national and international organisations, including Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET), Oxfam and World Vision.

Uganda National NGO Forum was launched in 1997 following two years of concerted work to develop the operational structure, a Constitution and membership recruitment program. Many NGOs had realised the need to engage Government and the donor community on policy issues and poverty concerns. Government on the other hand, found it important to involve Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in policies and programmes.

By 2001, UNNGOF had established policies and procedures for accountability, established formal registration for members, operationalized a code of conduct, amended the Constitution by re-mobilising members, developed a three year rights-based Strategic Plan, and set up district forums for support at district level and to the Secretariat. Over the years, UNNGOF has received financial support from development partners like DFID, DANIDA, UNDP, DGF, and Ford Foundation inter alia, to undertake her mandate.