In 1985 the .ORG domain was released to the public along with .COM, .NET, .GOV and .EDU – the original top-level domains of the Internet. Over the next 30 years the .ORG domain would become the Internet home of the nonprofit sector worldwide and become synonymous with the term “nonprofit organization.” Consequently, in poll after poll conducted by the Public Interest Registry, the nonprofit responsible for managing the .ORG domain, the online masses have communicated that more than any other domain on the Internet, .ORG is the most trusted, credible domain name for nonprofits, charities, NGOs, ONGs, and social enterprises worldwide. That is a testament to the integrity of our sector. Though our good works, we co-opted a domain name open to anyone and gave it prominence and respect.
However, this month the history of the philanthropic use of domains for websites, email communications, and online branding took an incredible leap forward that will impact the nonprofit sector for decades – the Public Interest Registry launched the new .NGO and .ONG domains. First, “NGO” is an acronym meaning “non-governmental organization” whereas “ONG” means “non-governmental organization” in countries where a romance language is spoken i.e., Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian. Second, the process of registering the .NGO and .ONG domains is very different from the .ORG domain, so to help you better understand the new domains, below are four reasons why your nonprofit should register .NGO and .ONG (sold bundled as 2-for-1) which explain in detail the unique functionality and purpose of the new domains.
1. Only legally recognized NGOs, ONGs, charities, and nonprofits can register .NGO and .ONG.
There are over 6 million .ORG domains addresses in use in the United States, but only 1.5 million nonprofits. Thus, there are possibly up to 4.5 million .ORG websites that are not specifically being used by nonprofit organizations. Even though .ORG is the most trusted domain on the Internet, there is no guarantee that a .ORG website is a nonprofit because any individual or brand can buy a .ORG domain. That is not the case with .NGO and .ONG. Only legally recognized nonprofits can purchase the .NGO and .ONG domains. Like .GOV and .EDU, nonprofits, charities, ONGs, and NGOs must go through a validation process when registering the new .NGO and .ONG domains.
2. .NGO and .ONG websites and email addresses communicate to donors and supporters that your nonprofit is credible, trustworthy, and legal.
When you receive an email with .GOV or .EDU in the email address you know that the email is coming from a validated government or higher education institution. There is a built-in credibility in government and higher education email communications because the .GOV and .EDU domains are only available to government and higher education. The same is true for .NGO and .ONG. Through a validation process which involves submitting legal paperwork to prove you are a legal nonprofit and working one-on-one with a validation specialist at the Public Interest Registry, your nonprofit will then be approved to purchase the new domains. This has a huge impact on the credibility of the nonprofit sector. When a donor or supporter receives an email with .NGO or .ONG in the email address or a print publication promoting a .NGO or .ONG website, the default conception will be that your NGO, ONG, charity, or nonprofit is validated, legal, and trustworthy. For example, halfthesky.ngo:
3. To secure the domain name of your choice and protect your brand long-term.
The Half the Sky Foundation forwards their new .NGO domain to halfthesky.org. Purchasing their .NGO domain early while it was still available and then forwarding their new .NGO domain to .ORG gives them time to watch how the use of the .NGO domain spreads throughout the globe and doesn’t require any immediate changes to their print promotional materials, letterhead, business cards, website, email accounts, etc. Register your .NGO and .ONG domains now or regret it later because although “NGO” and “ONG” are not widely used in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, they are the predominant terms used for describing the philanthropic sector in most other parts of the world. There is a lot of competition for these domains and the sooner you register your first choice of domains, the better protected your nonprofit’s online brand.
4. To get listed in a global database of validated NGOs, ONGs, charities, and nonprofits.
When your nonprofit registers .NGO and .ONG, you get added to the OnGood Global Directory (ongood.ngo) which by default is becoming the Internet’s home to the largest database legally recognized, validated NGOs worldwide. As more NGOs register for the new domains, the larger the database becomes. This is one of the biggest developments in global philanthropy in 30 years. In the decades to come, as OnGood and its tool set grow, boundaries to donating online internationally will be eliminated and tracking and reporting the progress of the global NGO sector will become much easier. In its infancy and with backing from the Public Interest Registry and ICANN, OnGood is taking on the validation process of millions of NGOs worldwide. It is a huge task and when your nonprofit registers the new domains, you become a part of this database and consequently a participant in one of the most transformative developments in Internet technology being used for social good since the release of .ORG.
Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits
Based on more than 20 years of experience and 25,000+ hours spent utilizing mobile and social media, Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits is a comprehensive 256-page book packed with more than 500 best practices. Written on the premise that all communications and fundraising are now mobile and social, Mobile for Good is a step-by-step how-to guide for writing, implementing, and maintaining a mobile and social fundraising strategy for your nonprofit.