New web domains .NGO & .ONG are now available. Has your nonprofit reserved its name?

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Over the last several years, the .org domain extension has become synonymous with nonprofits in the United States. But in actuality, .org domains are available to any organization or person who wants to register that domain, and many “.org” extensions are currently being used by personal, corporate, and political websites.

This blog post comes from guest author Jeri Curry, Director of Strategic Partnerships & Communication for Enset.

As of May 6, 2015, the registration of .ngo &.ong domains was opened for general availability, which means all new domain names may be registered by any validated organization. To protect your organization’s brand and to ensure that the .ngo & .ong domain extensions match an organization’s current .org domain name, Register.NGO is encouraging organizations to purchase their .ngo domains as soon as possible because these domain addresses will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The team at Public Interest Registry (PIR), itself a nonprofit, realized the need for a verified online presence for nonprofits and non-governmental organizations and established the new .ngo and .ong domains. Just as your nonprofit likely started out with a .com or .net address and added the .org version to protect your brand and make clear that the organization is a nonprofit, you may want to consider signalling to the world that your nonprofit is “verified” by reserving and protecting the .ngo and .ong versions of the nonprofit’s URL, as well. Even if .ngo or .ong don’t become your primary domain names, it is prudent to consider protecting your brand with these new extensions.

The new domains, .ngo &.ong are intended to lend credibility to legitimate nonprofits vying for attention and donations online. The eligibility standards and simple vetting process are designed to help donors know that the groups have met basic standards and are worthy of a donation.  When nonprofits register their domain names under .ngo & .ong they will not only join an online global community of nonprofits, but donors will immediately know that these organizations have been verified and validated.

Nonprofit Validation

The driving factor for launching .ngo & .ong was the need for a domain that was validated and would reassure Internet users and donors that websites with the exclusive .ngo & .ong domains represent genuine nonprofits. For the purpose of validation, there are seven criteria used to define a 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

How important are the new .NGO & .ONG website domains for nonprofit organizations?

The key benefit of these new domains relates to fundraising. When donors are choosing a cause to support, they often look to an organization’s website to verify their donations are supporting credible nonprofits.  Many donors have a particular charity or nonprofit they support, but others may utilize search engines to look for organizations that are aligned to a donor’s personal interest.  

However, simply looking at the nonprofit’s .org domain extension does not always ensure or provide validation of legitimate status as a charitable nonprofit, since personal, political, and corporate websites can also use this extension. In contrast, .ngo & .ong domains may only be used by validated nonprofits, so these new domain extensions give instant, internationally-recognized credibility to an organization. As more nonprofits begin using .ngo & .ong domains, organizations that choose to not do this could start seeing a decline in donations or website traffic if they lack the additional recognition and validation these extensions provide.

How Do I Register My Organization’s New Domain?

To register your organization, it is as easy as going to Register.NGO, where your organization can register for your .ngo & .ong domains, which are bundled together. Register.NGO is powered by Enset, the nonprofit domain registrar founded in 2015 by Public Interest Registry.   Enset’s mission is to support nonprofits around the world by acting as a trusted provider of online services and to offer an opportunity for all nonprofits regardless of size or geography, to share their mission, and be part of the global conversation online. In collaboration with the National Council of Nonprofits, Enset is offering a 50 percent discount at Enset.NGO on new registrations using the coupon code “SHARENGO​”.

Many organizations will likely choose to register their organizations .ngo & .ong domains and redirect them to their current .org domain address until they are either ready to make the switch or to establish these domains to offer more branding opportunities, additional online location to drive both increased visibility, and traffic for their organization.

What is the Difference Between the .NGO and .ONG Domains?

The domain acronyms are meant to use phrases people around the world use to refer to nonprofits. NGO, which stands for non-governmental 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. When your nonprofit reserves its .ngo domain, it automatically receives the .ong version, as well.

What is OnGood?

As an additional benefit of the new domains, Public Interest Registry is launching a global directory and online NGO community- OnGood, where nonprofits who have .ngo & .ong extensions can raise awareness, funds, and support for their missions.The purchase of an .ngo / .ong domain includes an annual membership to Ongood, which offers members a customizable profile page on the community website where nonprofits may showcase campaigns, link to their website, connect with their social media channels, share activities and information, and collect donations. Organizations have control over their own profile pages.

OnGood is supported in five languages: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and German. These languages were chosen based on interest from the nonprofit community. More languages will be added in the future, based on demand.


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