April is an exciting time for nonprofits around the world. Finally, there is a new web domain designed for the exclusive use of this mission-driven industry.
In 2011, a team from the Public Interest Registry (PIR), the nonprofit registry of .ORG and now both .NGO and .ONG domains, started creating a new platform for nonprofits, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and charities to engage online. The hope was to offer an online presence to both large and small organizations globally, especially in the developing world, and an opportunity to be part of a larger NGO community.
The result of over four years of research is the launch of .NGO and .ONG domains as well as the launch of OnGood, a platform created by PIR that stewards a suite of online services for NGOs and nonprofits to use to raise awareness, funds, and support for their missions. PIR has also helped found a new nonprofit organization, Enset, which is the only nonprofit domain registrar. Enset’s mission is to support other NGOs and nonprofits around the world by acting as a trusted provider of online services.
The global NGO community helped develop the ideas for .NGO and OnGood. Public Interest Registry reached out in meetings and events around the world to gather input and advice directly from the NGO community to ensure that the plans for the new domains and OnGood reflected the needs and desires of the global NGO community.
A Global Online Community
The new domains are intended to lend credibility to legitimate charities vying for attention and donations online. The eligibility standards and vetting process are designed to help donors know that the groups have met basic standards and are worthy of a donation. The more organizations that register an .NGO domain and join the OnGood community, the greater the opportunities for growing a larger donor base exist. It will also help create an online platform where NGOs can share best practices and their own stories about the work they are doing in their local communities.
Many NGOs may wonder what the benefits of the new domains are and if they should add a new domain or direct their websites to their new .NGO & .ONG domain names. These new domains will help identify and distinguish nongovernmental organizations as validated NGOs within the crowded digital world, providing immediate recognition for these organizations.
We predict that organizations will likely choose to register their organizations .NGO and .ONG domains and redirect them to their current .ORG domain address until they are either ready to make the switch or to establish additional domains to offer more branding opportunities, additional online location to drive both increased visibility, and traffic for their organization.
Why .NGO & .ONG?
The domain acronyms are meant to use phrases people around the world use to refer to nonprofits. NGO, which stands for nongovernmental organization, is an abbreviation already well known to many in the United States, while ONG is commonly used in countries that use romance languages. When applying for validation to purchase either a .NGO or .ONG domain, successful validated applicants automatically will receive both domains.
The driving factor for launching .NGO was the need for a domain that was validated and would reassure Internet users and donors that websites with the exclusive .NGO and .ONG domains represent genuine nonprofits. While many organizations use .ORG for their domain, there are no required criteria for use of the suffix. Public Interest Registry worked closely with the global NGO community to develop a validation process for nonprofits seeking to register .NGO & .ONG domains. For the purpose of validation, there are seven criteria used to definea qualifying organization:
- Focused on acting in the public interest. Members of the NGO community work for the good of humankind and/or the preservation of the planet and do not promote discrimination or bigotry
- Nonprofit-focused entities. Members of the NGO community do not recognize profits or retain earnings
- Limited government influence. Members decide their own policies and activities and are independent of direct government or political control
- NGO staff/members are independent actors. Members of the NGO community should not be parts of political parties, and participation in the NGO must be voluntary
- Active organizations. Members of the NGO community are actively and regularly pursuing their missions
- Structured. Members of the NGO community operate in a structured manner
- Lawful. Members of the NGO community act with integrity within the bounds of law
During registration, NGOs are required to confirm that their organization meets these criteria and that they are an authorized representative of the organization.
What is OnGood?
The purchase of an .NGO domain includes an annual membership to the platform Ongood, which offers a customizable profile page on the community website where NGOs showcase campaigns, share activities and information, and collect donations.
Each organization included on the platform has a profile page detailing their mission and organization, which they can then link to their website, connect with their social media channels, and use to share information with their audiences and collect donations. Organizations have control over their own profile pages.
OnGood will be supported in five languages: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and German. These languages were chosen based on interest from the NGO community. More languages will be added in the future, based on demand.
How Do NGOs Register Their New Domain?
Beginning April 21, organizations that have expressed interest in reserving their new domain names will be given priority to secure their organization’s domain names.
A Limited Registration Period (LRP) will take place from April 21 – May 5. During this time, NGOs that have already submitted an expression of interest prior to April 21 will be able to register the .NGO and .ONG domain name bundle. The general availability period will begin May 6, 2015 for all remaining NGOs. Names will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
The new .NGO domains are available from Enset and several other registrars.