Introducing .NGO/.ONG at @InsideNGO’s Annual Conference, Exclusively for the NGO Community

Last week, Public Interest Registry had the privilege to exhibit at this year’s annual InsideNGO conference in Washington, D.C. InsideNGO is a membership association that focuses on strengthening “inside” operational staff members and leadership in the international NGO sector; this particular event provides members of the NGO community with the opportunity to share strategies, solutions, policies and procedures with one another. This was Public Interest Registry’s first time attending, and we truly benefited from the experience.

Many if not most of today’s NGOs occupy the digital space by sharing their story and working for a cause through a .ORG website. As the longtime operator of the .ORG domain, it was inspirational for us to meet face-to-face with the members of some of the amazing organizations currently using .ORG to advance their mission. Still, we recognize that the biggest issues that these NGOs seem to face are money, resources and sustainability. With that being said, we were delighted to present a new offering to these members, an invaluable tool for NGOs across the world, that Public Interest Registry will soon make available: .NGO (.Non-governmental organization) and .ONG (the translated equivalent of .NGO for regions that speak romance languages) domains.

Expected to launch January 2015, .NGO/.ONG will be closed domains, accessible only for validated NGOs, and they will be offered as a bundle, meaning, a single registration includes both domains. Obtaining the .NGO/.ONG domains will also mean inclusion to our NGO Hub – an online community where NGOs can find and communicate with each other, donors, volunteers, and potential partners. Think of it like “a Facebook for NGOs” that will feature profile pages and the ability to search for NGOs by name, cause or region.

The feedback that we received from the conference attendees about .NGO/.ONG domains was positive and enthusiastic. Many wanted to know when and where they could sign up. Here are some of the most common questions we received at Inside NGO:

1)     I know .NGO is something my organization will want to utilize. What can I do now in preparation for the .NGO launch?

Answer: You can go to www.globalngo.org for the latest news and updates about .NGO/.ONG, and subscribe to our newsletter. At globalngo.org, you can also submit a free and unbinding Expression of Interest (EOI) for the .NGO/.ONG web address you desire.

2)     I’m on a .ORG website right now. Do I need to switch from my .ORG if I want to buy .NGO/.ONG?

Answer: We actually encourage NGOs to keep both web addresses. Here are a couple of reasons why:

  • To maintain brand equity. Since your organization has already invested in building a brand under .ORG, your supporters likely already recognize you as a .ORG, and we believe that there is great value to maintain and continue with this trusted recognition.
  • To increase brand awareness. Because .NGO/.ONG is a validated domain, it would be advantageous to use this extension to show the world that your organization is a validated NGO. When people see the extension to the right of the dot in your organization’s web address, it will be understood that you have undergone a vetting process to attain this.
  • To secure your brand name. If another NGO has a name that is similar to yours, it will be important to distinguish yourself and minimize confusion from the consumer perspective.

3)     How much will .NGO/.ONG cost?

  • The price has not yet been finalized, however, if you sign up for our newsletter on globalngo.org, you’ll be one of the first to know when we release pricing information.

In fact, as we get closer to the launch of .NGO/.ONG we will certainly provide more updates including the development of the NGO portal through our monthly NGO newsletter. To sign up for this newsletter is highly encouraged.

Our ultimate goal is to reach as many NGOs across the globe as possible and create a place online for meaningful connections. Please, help us spread the word about .NGO/.ONG and share the guide below!

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You may also view this guide here: http://www.ngotld.org/files/NGOFlyer_Final.pdf

We would like to just give a quick thanks to InsideNGO for organizing this important annual event. We are very fond of the work that this organization does to help provide NGOs with more resources and opportunities. And thank you to everyone who stopped by to visit us in the exhibit hall! It was a pleasure meeting you all, and we look forward to connecting again soon in the future.

1,400 New Domain Names Are Coming. What Does It Mean For You?

Original Source: SimplyZesty
Written by Lauren Fisher, 10 Jun 2013

As we prepare for the release of 1,400 new domain extensions such as .book, .music to .sport, the Public Internet Registry (PIR) is also focusing on specific domains for the charity and non-profit sector that will see a whole new type of classification online with the domain extensions .ngo and .ong (which has its roots in Latin languages).

As the internet diversifies, the need for a new domain system is becoming more and more evident. We’ve seen slight shifts with the introduction of country specific extensions, but we are about to see the biggest overhaul of the domain name system in the history of the internet. The new system began rolling out on April 23 this year and by the end there will be a 6,300% increase in web domain names.

What are the implications of a whole new domain extension system and what does it mean for how we  use the internet to search and find trusted information? I spoke to the CEO of PIR, Brian Cute, about this topic. PIR, who operate the .org domain name, is currently accepting requests for registration of .ngo and .ong domain extensions and Brian had some interesting perspectives on what the new domain system represents in the wider context of online communication.

User Trust

As information online increases, there is a growing demand for a verification system to notify us of sites that we can trust. This is especially needed in the charity sector, where many smaller organisations rely on online donations, but how do we know who we can trust? A recent survey conducted on behalf of PIR found that two thirds of respondents would be more likely to donate to a charitable website with a validated domain name.

In addition. 80% of respondents felt that .ngo or .ong would be an acceptable domain for the community. For this to prove successful, it needs to be monitored by a third party who can manually approve requests. Just as Twitter relies on human authentication to grant profiles ‘verified’ status, we are about to enter a new phase that will see a similar process in action across the internet, one that will be tailored specifically for NGOs.

As Brian explained, where an organisation doesn’t already have NGO status, PIR will enter into a manual verification process to decide if the domain should be awarded. The impact this has on our online behaviour is significant. With 1,400 new categories launching, we will approach websites differently and will have to develop an understanding of how the categories function (to an extent) to get the information we want.

We will need to judge the difference between domains like .co.uk or .london to decide which is the right one for us. Brian asserted that even though organisations have a diversified presence online – which can include social profiles and apps as well as a website – it is still the website that people ultimately trust. He explained that:

“…the humble website remains one of the best ways to completely control the environment around your brand and we think they will remain a primary home on the web for years to come.”

The Role Of Search

This will have a huge knock-on effect for search engines, which will need to develop a new system of categorising websites. Right now, we’ve a relatively simple system where just a few domain variations need to be categorised.

We risk seeing multiple results for a product name that could have multiple domain name variants. with a need to support category domains to filter information, how we search in the future will be drastically different to how we search now.

This could even mean domain specific search engines if you only want to search within .sport for example. Suddenly, we have semantic search made possible by the domain name itself. Speaking about the impact on search, Brian said:

“This is yet another indicator of how drastic these changes will be and why organizations and the Internet community must begin to prepare now.”

Below is the interview in full with Brian Cute.

Lauren Fisher (LF): Right now domain names are fairly standardised, and so are easy for people to remember and use. Do you think the release of up to 1,400 additional domain names could over-complicate this?

Brian Cute (BC): At first, all these new names may be confusing to most consumers. While .co.uk, .com and .org are the norm today, they will be joined by new web addresses such as .book or .music, and .eco or .sport.

However, as you breakdown the categories of the new domain extensions, you’ll find that more than half of them belong to trademarked holders while the rest are spread into categories including generic names, geographic locations and community-centric domains. Most consumers will gravitate to certain categories, and we think there is great potential in the domains that offer community identification and bring groups together under a shared passion or interest.

LF: Do you believe the domain name is still important, with the move to mobile and a heavier reliance on apps?

BC: The increase in domain names combined with the growth of social media platforms and apps does make for a cluttered content landscape. Yet the humble website remains one of the best ways to completely control the environment around your brand and we think they will remain a primary home on the web for years to come.

A recent survey conducted by the Public Interest Registry confirmed that 82% of people still think an organization’s website is the most trustworthy place to get information on a charity or social cause compared to other online resources such as social media sites. While not every new web address will have staying power, we think a community-centric and verified domain will be a strong draw for people.

LF:What are the criteria for an .ngo/ong domain to be granted?

BC: Knowing there is some diversity across the NGO community, the Public Interest Registry has identified six global commonalities to help determine who qualifies for the .ngo/ong domain which will encompass both traditional NGOs and also nonprofits.

We spent three years travelling the globe to speak with non-profits and NGOs to understand their challenges and opportunities. With the new domain, our goal is to create a unique space for the broader NGO community, and also to empower them with new tools such as a global NGO directory to make them more easily found by prospective donors around the world. The six criteria to qualify for an .ngo/ong domain are:

1. Not-for-profit: Non-commercial focus, members not exclusively benefiting.
2. Purposeful: Actively pursuing its mission.
3. Benevolent: Broad-based focus on the good of humankind, not political.
4. Independence: Have degrees of influence to operate – participation is voluntary.
5. Structured/Organized: Function in a defined manner.
6. Lawful: Operates with integrity in the bounds of the law.

Validation will be automated or manual as needed. The automated verification will happen instantly if those organizations have already been identified as NGOs, based on existing valid databases and lists.

If an NGO isn’t on an existing and credible list, we also have a manual validation process whereby organizations can submit required documents for review. Qualifying organizations will be eligible to receive both the .ngo and the .ong extensions (a linguistic variation of the NGO term in Latin-rooted languages).

LF: How will these new domain names impact search?

BC: Just as users and website owners will adapt to new domains, so must search engines. The changes may result in a single organization operating on multiple domain names – either pointing visitors to one flagship site or taking advantage of different domains to specific target audiences and purposes.

This is yet another indicator of how drastic these changes will be and why organizations and the Internet community must begin to prepare now.

LF: Could you expand on the recent survey carried out, where two thirds of respondents claimed they would be more likely to donate to a site with a validated domain name?

BC: The survey, regarding domain names for social causes and non-profits, queried 200 marketing and technology professionals in the UK and was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Public Interest Registry. Respondents included 150 nonprofit leaders and 50 business leaders.

In addition to discovering that a majority of respondents are more likely to donate to a validated domain name, the survey also found that 80% felt that .ngo/ong would be a welcome domain and serve a recognized community.

LF: Do we have a need for these new domain names because the original system is only sustainable to a point, or because our behaviour is changing?

BC: The Internet’s addressing system has undergone several expansions in the past 27 years. Over this span of time, we have added country codes, such as .uk, .de, .fr, and a host of other generic terms. Of course, there has never been an expansion quite like this, in terms of scale and size.

However, it is an evolving landscape both to increase consumer choice and to encourage technology innovation. Consumer consumption is helping drive the appetite for a new domain ecosystem, which we see as very positive.

LF: How big is the market for .ngo domains?

BC: Public Interest Registry spent the last two years meeting with NGOs around the globe to better understand the market and the needs of NGOs. Under our definition of NGO – which includes all valid non-profits – we believe there is upward of ten million organizations that can join the new domain and help build a robust NGO community and online directory.

Why Are Brands Abandoning gTLD Applications? by @JenWolfe of @Wolfedomain

Original Source Posted by Jennifer Wolfe on Wed, Jun 05, 2013 @ 02:36 PM

A number of brands have recently fallen from the list of visionary companies applying for gTLDs. Hasbro’s Transformers, Hilton, GM’s suite of gTLDs and Heinz have all decided to pull their gTLD applications, opting out of participating in the first paradigm shift of the Internet.

Why? There two likely reasons — companies are having difficulty responding to ICANN’s clarifying questions that were designed more for an open registry than for brands, or they are balking at the costs associated with applying for and migrating to a gTLD environment.

In the grand scheme of business, both of these reasons are shortsighted, as companies with gTLDs will have significant brand differentiation and innovation opportunities as compared to those who have not applied.

The clarifying questions that may be troubling to brands involves explaining their gTLD strategies and financial models, as brands may not have determined their exact strategies or financial models at this point. However, a response does not need to include a full-blown list of plans.

For most brands, their gTLD strategy simply involves a migration of their .com business model into a top-level domain environment. While this could certainly evolve as new ways of using gTLDs are revealed, the basic model is pretty straightforward. In addition, costs are projected to be the same as operating a .com, plus the specific registry functions of a gTLD, and revenue should not be expected to change at the get-go.

The other primary reason that brands may be dropping off is that they question the value of continuing the application process and see the cost of operating the gTLD as much higher than with .com. While there is certainly a higher cost involved, I would challenge brands to consider whether the cost savings from dropping out is worth more than the value of moving forward. The answer for any large company is “no.”

To break this down:

1.  The cost to apply for a gTLD is $185K.

2.  The cost to migrate .com over and run the gTLD is approximately $250K per year (before you consider investing in innovative ideas). This cost represents significantly more opportunity and responsibility than .com, as brands own and can therefore leverage all the Big Data opportunities.If gTLDs don’t change everything, then this costs about as much as a bad ad campaign or a spot during the SuperBowl that doesn’t work. For big car companies, hotels or even the mighty Transformers, this amounts to a rounding error.

3.  If gTLDs do change the way everyone uses the Internet, then this is a cheap investment for owning critical Internet real estate and being one step ahead of competitors. And if gTLDs do transform the digital world and you abandon, then you are likely to go through this process again in the next round — not to mention wasting the investment thus far.

4.  I have talked with many C-suite executives at Fortune 500 companies, and most of them don’t want to be the leader who didn’t make a relatively small investment in the next big thing just because they couldn’t figure out how to answer some challenging questions.

This gold rush of the Internet is a calculated risk worth taking — acquiring the real estate you want is critical, and the price is well worth it. If everything changes and you have drop out while competitors stayed in, you could lose market position.

So don’t quit while you are ahead. Think creatively, get better advice, and consider that the cost of dropping out is far greater than staying the course of opportunity.