CEO Brian Cute on Computerwoche: A Facebook for NGOs

Brian Cute, CEO of Public Interest Registry, recently sat down with Simon Hülsbömer of Computerwoche.de in Germany to discuss the 1400+ new generic top level domains (gTLDs) coming to the Internet. Public Interest Registry is the longstanding operator of the .ORG domain database, one of the original TLDs, and will soon be offering two new exclusive domain extensions, .NGO and .ONG, for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as 4 international domain names (IDNs) in Cyrillic, Hindi, and two Chinese scripts.

Key points from the interview:

  • Since Public Interest Registry already operates the .ORG domain, we are excited to give a voice and a platform to the NGO community.
  •  Our decision to apply for .NGO was based on three goals: to support NGOs, give the NGO community an identity of its own, and build a verification process required to obtain .NGO/.ONG.
  • The verification process will be a challenge, but can be managed with support of the community (national registration lists, relevant authorization documents etc.).
  • Public Interest Registry’s internal benchmark for .NGO registrations is one million.
  • Each NGO has to decide which domain extension is the best fit for their organization.
  • The .NGO/.ONG domains will also offer a directory and the option to set up a profile page (“a Facebook for NGOs”).
  • The .NGO directory will help to increase readiness to donate, as it enables searching for specific organizations.
  • The website is the most important tool for NGOs to create visibility as it is under their own control – unlike Facebook or Twitter or other social media platforms.
  • A growing number of companies will use different domains for different purposes, e.g. a .ORG domain for their CSR activities.

See the interview (in English) below:

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Brian Cute, CEO of Public Interest Registry
Photo: Public Interest Registry

CW: The gTLD approval process is like a cliffhanger. At what stage is it currently?

CUTE: ICANN would like to begin with their release by the end of September. We at PIR have applied for four IDNs and expect that this can go live in the fourth quarter of 2013. Since our applications for .NGO and .ONG had higher numbers in ICANN’s draw, they were placed a little later in the series for approval and launch. About 20 top-level domains are to be released each week, so we expect the start of the launch phase of .NGO/.ONG to begin toward the middle of next year.

CW: How many gTLDs have been approved by ICANN?

CUTE: A total of 1,400 (at 1930 applications ). 663 of them are brand-based and applied by their respective rights holders, for example, .BMW. 400 are generic, such as .Hotels, .Aero, or .Jobs. 84 entries have a social or charitable purpose – we fall in this category. Then there are the IDNs and TLDs for specific geographic regions or cities.

CW: Why did you choose to apply for .NGO/.ONG?

CUTE: With the .ORG domains, we give a non-commercial community a voice and a platform. When we were thinking about whether we should apply for new TLDs, it came to the question of where we would have the best opportunities. The main argument, on the part of users for a domain, is its own identity. Precisely for this reason, .NGO was on the wish list; we wanted to distinguish non-governmental organizations from the crowd and help them create their own identity. The counterpart to .NGO is .ONG, which is the acronym used in Romance languages, so with both extensions the entire globe is covered.

Create a global trust

After these considerations, we had about 18 months of workshops organized – in Africa, Central America, India. We wanted our own idea of ​​the web identity for NGOs at the grassroots level, so to speak, at the grassroot test. The feedback was positive – particularly in the southern hemisphere, where non-governmental organizations have a very strong self-image. In addition, we asked for an admission for the new domain extensions – which means a verification process that is used to ensure that only NGOs may apply for these TLDs. That aspect has also found wide support. Finally, it has been often shown that current events such as the tsunami a few years ago bear a number of companies with fraudulent intentions that call themselves NGOs, collect donations and disappear from the scene.

In short, there are three key factors that drove us to ensure the purely moral support of NGOs to give the community an identity and establish a verification process for these organizations.

CW: A formal verification for NGOs is an honorable thing. But how will this be possible?

CUTE: It will be a challenge. But we already have examples of other TLDs where it has worked. These include .hotel; in order to apply for such a domain, you must appear in an official hotel directory that is managed by a global central governing body. For NGOs, there is no such association as of yet, but at least in some countries national lists of registered organizations do exist, which we can aggregate. In regions without such lists, it is important to identify the documents that confirm that someone has a legitimate NGO status – be it business reports, tax returns or best practices. This will vary from country to country. We will have to consider the origin of the enrollee, any relevant documents to examine, and then decide whether to release the registration or not. Again, we rely on the help of the community: the NGOs need to tell us which of the references in which regions are legitimate.

Most like a million

CW: Which orders of magnitude we are talking about? How many NGOs would be interested in this?

CUTE: Worldwide, there are about ten million NGOs . On our website, these NGOs can submit a letter of intent to domain name registration, or expression of interest (EOI). So far, 700 organizations have submitted their interest. How many are there really? I do not know, but our workshops have received positive feedback and I am very optimistic. We are convinced that our idea will be a success. The critical mass of a successful domain registrar is one million registrations; this is the only internal benchmark we have. I think that we will get there.

CW: Large NGOs have been present in other domains such as .org. How will .NGO compare?

CUTE: There are now ten million registered .ORG domains, mostly in the United States and Europe. The greatest potential for .NGO domains will be in the southern hemisphere — in India, Africa, Central and South America, Asia. A common question in our workshops was whether someone should secure both the .NGO domain and a .ORG domain. We have left the question unanswered as each NGO has to make the choice themselves. The .ORG domain has a good reputation and is already well known, so it might be worth keeping in addition to the .NGO/.ONG extensions. The .NGO addresses, however, will only be available to a limited, select group. With a NGO address directory available, NGOs will be able to create their own profile page and communicate not only with each other, but also with donors and potential business partners. It will act as a “Facebook for NGOs”, so to speak, where the organizations can also raise money.

Donations increases

We see often large online donations to nonprofit organizations. In the U.S., for example, an average of 93 dollars per donor is contributed. Imagine what an African NGO could do with only five of these donations. With a central NGO directory, we will give donors the opportunity to search for organizations by name, region and cause, thus making them feel more confident and happy about supporting a specific group.

CW: Is a website with its own domain in the era of the social web at all necessary?

CUTE: It’s all about visibility, especially for NGOs. A home website is still the premier tool to use. Facebook and Twitter are great – but these platforms are controlled by a third party that I cannot control myself.

Brand management

CW: What do companies need to do to protect their brands?

CUTE: First, they should register their trademarks in the “Trademark Clearinghouse” (TCH), a service offered by ICANN that helps companies protect their brand. A second option is the “Uniform Rapid Suspension” system (URS), whereby any illegally registered domains by third parties can immediately be removed from the network at the rightful trademark owner’s request. We at Public Interest Registry have established more technical processes and a separate department that enforces the rights of trademark owners. However, I recommend all businesses to observe exactly what new extensions are registered and where they might have interest. This saves unnecessary legal disputes. Maintain your brand with vision!

CW: What is the best branding strategy?

CUTE: It is common for companies to register a number of different domain extensions for their brand when they are looking to build their presence online. Many of our new customers are actually part of a Corporate Social Responsibility program; in addition to their .com-presence, they utilize a non-commercial .ORG site for their foundation or to carry out charitable causes outside of their commercial work. A good example of this is the Japanese carmaker Hyundai, which started its non-profit children’s cancer research “Hope on Wheels” on a .ORG page that makes no reference to the carmakers’ commercial products. I expect to see many more examples like this in the near future when the new gTLDs come.

**This interview has been translated from German to English.**

Original Source by Simon Hülsbömer of Computerwoche.de

ResellerClub and Public Interest Registry’s Growth in India

ResellerClub recently interviewed our Channel Manager, Anand Vora, who shared his thoughts about HostingCon and his experience working with ResellerClub.

HostingCon was held recently in Austin, Texas. This particular event is a great platform for registries to see what people are doing, especially in relation to the newTLDs that are coming to the Internet. With the newTLD applications, Public Interest Registry has applied for .NGO, .ONG, and 4 International Domain Names (IDNs).

A big thank you to ResellerClub and all of the resellers that have helped us develop messaging and gain a lot of growth in India through their channels!

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.

#foodstagrams to Fight World Hunger

 

As Public Interest Registry draws closer toward its launch of the .NGO/.ONG domain extensions, we are actively searching for NGOs around the globe — to connect with, to understand their mission(s), and to help share their stories in a newly defined space.

Most recently, we came across Manos Unidas — an NGO in Spain that works for the support, promotion and development of the third world — and a strategic initiative (developed by DDB Spain) that we wanted to share on the organization’s behalf. This effort to help end world hunger is called FoodShareFilter, and it is the first supportive filter for Instagram that turns your food porn into acts of kindness.

Each time users take/upload a photo of their meal through the app, they simply apply the filter which adds a caption underneath the image saying, “This picture helps millions of people not to suffer hunger. If you are going to share your food, share it for real.” It is then encouraged to add the hashtag #FoodShareFilter so that people can search and follow your posts both on Instagram and Twitter. Conveniently, the app allows you to send your photos directly to Instagram and any other social networking sites that your Instagram account is linked to. The hashtag and sharing capability enables viral momentum for online communication and the promotion of a great cause.

“We wanted to get closer to younger people. With this in mind, we started to think about food porn and the way people upload their pics on Instagram,” Nerea Cierco, digital creative director at DDB Spain, the agency behind FoodShareFilter, told Fast Co.Exist. “They are used to improving their pics with touching and effects, and we know they are used to paying for these types of apps. So we thought there was opportunity to turn that action into help for others.”

The video above explains how the app works in Spanish, but here is a step-by-step guide listed in English:

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First, download the FoodShareFilter on iTunes.

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Either upload a photo from your photo library or take a new picture on your mobile device.

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Click “Apply Filter” so that you can see a caption written underneath your picture that reads, “This picture helps millions of people not to suffer hunger. If you are going to share your food, share it for real.” Don’t forget to add “#FoodShareFilter”.

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Share your photo on Instagram (and any other social networking sites that your account is linked to). Aaaand wah-lah!

While Manos Unidas doesn’t earn revenue from Instagram posts, the cost of the $0.99 download from the App Store and $1.16 on Google Play gets donated to an agricultural program in El Salvador run by this NGO. And of course, each shared photo continues to raise awareness of food poverty around the world.

Are you addicted to food porn? Turn your addition into acts of kindness 🙂

On another note, if you or someone you know if affiliated with an NGO that is working for a specific cause, please send information to us about your organization at info@pir.org. We would love to know where you are located and what work you do! If you are interested in learning more about .NGO/.ONG, or would like to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI), please visit www.ngotld.org.

The Ratings Are In: Measuring .ORG’s Trust and Success in Numbers

Written by Thuy LeDinh, Senior Marketing Communications Manager at Public Interest Registry

I recently discovered HBO’s new hit show, The Newsroom, which follows a team behind a nightly cable news program in their quest – in the name of ethical journalism – to deliver the best and most truthful news coverage to viewers. If you’re a fan of the show, you likely can understand how it made me think about how we consume, digest and respond to all of the information that media throws at us. Between the emails, embedded hyperlinks, tweets, pop-up banners, and mobile app notifications constantly popping up in our day-to-day lives, how do we cut through the clutter to differentiate between what’s important?

And when we need the facts, where are we most likely to turn for credible, reliable information?

So where do you turn for the most trusted source of information for a cause or charity?  Would it be through social media or the organization’s website?  We recently conducted a survey through ORC International to measure the level of trust consumers have in .ORG and their sentiments towards other online resources, such as social media, and found that 82% of survey respondents still think a website is the most trustworthy place to get information on a charity or social cause.  Despite the growing rise and popularity of organizational social media pages and accounts, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn were respectively ranked second, third and fourth most trustworthy.

At Public Interest Registry, we fully believe in the power of the Internet as a useful medium to spread knowledge, ideas and support for the common good. As the not-for-profit-operator of the .ORG domain, we have a responsibility to help maintain the integrity of the Internet by providing a trusted place online for organizations, companies and individuals to tell their stories and to mobilize their communities.

We were pleased to find that a large majority of all respondents (90%) associate a .ORG web address with the words “non-profit,” “trusted,” “exclusive,” or a combination of all three. Furthermore, nearly half (49%) of the respondents polled would choose to purchase a .ORG domain to relay information about a cause that they were passionate about. Other key findings include:

  • Assuming there are four websites, all with similar content but each with a different domain name, 39% of all respondents surveyed indicated they would trust .ORG the most; 23% chose .COM and 25% said they would trust them all equally (.ORG, .COM, .INFO, .NET).
  • In a time of crisis, 33% of all respondents would look for information on a .ORG, followed by .COM (31%) and .INFO (17%).

While these survey findings certainly help us validate our daily efforts to give more causes around the world a trusted online venue, they also demonstrate how audiences seek to connect with these causes and communities across the many Internet options available. As hundreds of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) become available online in the months ahead, Public Interest Registry is working with the global community of non-profit and NGOs to ensure that the transformations coming to the Internet expand the opportunities for organizations and their causes around the world.

Original post may be viewed here.

South by (South) Reflections

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SXSW 2013 has officially come to a close. Participants from the festival are still recuperating from the travel edured, 6th Street, and of course their participation in panels, shows, and exhibits; Austinites are happy to see everyone vacate until next year despite the level of weird(ness) captured in Austin over the past 2 weeks.

The Public Interest Registry was fortunate enough to participate in this year’s Interactive Trade Show for the very first time. Although our 22-person company seemed like a tadpole in a vast sea, we felt right at home amongst the other entrepreneurs, creatives, artists, and tech geeks that congregated in this one place to share products, developments and forward-thinking visions.

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Our main goals at SXSW were:

  • To let people know who the Public Interest Registry is,
  • Showcase our first .ORG film, Digital Citizen,
  • Collect and curate new .ORG stories from SXSW attendees, and
  • To promote the .NGO domain extension that is expected to launch by 2014.

After having time to reflect on everything that happened last week, we realized that we did everything we hoped to and more. The Public Interest Registry (although a behind-the-scenes persona) prides itself as the operator of the .ORG database, serving the public interest and empowering online communities.

At SXSW, we were able to speak face to face with people who have experienced all sorts of trials and tribulations, which in turn has inspired them to put forth their efforts into specific causes in hopes of attaining a positive outcome for generations to come. This was an experience for us in itself because the stories behind each ORG was/is personal, and the people behind them are extremely passionate about being a part of something bigger and making a difference in other peoples’ lives. This resonates with us, the Public Interest Registry, to our core. We are here to understand your humble beginnings, and to offer a voice to your cause with three simple letters to the right of the dot: ORG.

We did in fact demonstrate that the .ORG platform has successfully connected communities of people through our short film, the Digital Citizen. While this documentary specifically highlights Wikipedia, Craigslist, Occupy Wallstreet, and SXSW4Japan, we explained that .ORGs are a powerful means to serve the public interest — through activism, fundraising and donations, civil rights, sports and recreation, health, religion, politics, and beyond. In turn, we asked those who visited our booth to share their own .ORG websites with us so that we could collect more stories for our next .ORG film.

To give you an idea of what we discovered, here are a few brief examples:

  • www.ecaware.org – Esophageal Cancer Awareness Association (ECAA)
    We met a young (twenty-something) man named Chris who survived turlock esophageal cancer as a teenager. Since his experience of overcoming terrifying odds, he has devoted himself to supporting the research and care for other esophageal cancer patients.
  • www.illegalart.org – Illegal Art (Rest assured, nothing about the art is actually illegal!)
    Another young man named Otis shared his artwork with us. He explained that each project carries a central theme; no artwork is complete until the public has contributed to its message. Otis actually gave us a live example at the Interactive Trade Show to preview:

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“From the refrigerator to the computer screen, from the purse to the bedroom door, to-do lists, commands, reminders, mantras and more have graced these tiny 3×3 inch squares all over the globe.”

  • www.oneflaginspace.org
    The mission is to send astronauts to outer space and promote the use of the “Blue Marble” aka the Earth as a symbol of world unity in space exploration. In 1972, the blue marble became the first complete picture of Earth taken from space by humans; thus, a universal message for the benefit of humanity as a whole, as opposed to independent nations across the globe, would in itself be another milestone in space exploration.

BlueMarble

  • www.growyourbase.org – Grow Your Base (Supported by Salsa)
    This is an online platform that specifically teaches nonprofits how to leverage online channels for their mission(s) — using email, social media and mobile applications to maximize outreach and support.

…These were only 4 of the 150+ .ORGs and stories that we learned about at SXSW. We cannot wait to see what else we find! If you or someone that you know has a .ORG story, please share it with us because we want to help your story be heard.

Also, if you are affiliated with a nonprofit, you may qualify for a .NGO domain extension. The Public Interest Registry anticipates launching this new domain by 2014, and there will be a validation process, which will be the main difference between .NGO and .ORG. For more information, and to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) for your own .NGO domain, please visit http://www.ngotld.org

Sincerely,

The Public Interest Registry Team

Until next time, Austin…

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Support .NGO, A Public Interest Registry Initiative

Within a year new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) will be launched worldwide, joining the likes of .ORG, .COM, and .NET. Among the proposed new gTLDs is .NGO. .NGO will be the exclusive domain for local and global non-governmental organizations looking to advance their missions or to inspire their communities.

In preparation for the launch of .NGO/.ONG, visit ww.ngotld.org to submit your Expression of Interest (EOI) now!