.NGO, the New Non-profit Domain



Since 2011, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has been delegating new top level domains. Let me un-techno-speak that for you.

You use TLDs (top level domains) every time you visit a website. It’s what comes after the “dot,” as in “masterworks-DOT-com.” In that case, the TLD is .com. There were originally just a few TLDs created, the ones we are all familiar with: .com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov; and a few others you don’t see very often: .mil, .int, .arpa.

The idea was to provide some hints to Internet users about the kind of site they were visiting. Not anyone could get a .edu TLD, so if you were visiting a site with a .edu, you knew it was legit.

With the proliferation of domains, business interests started clamoring for new TLDs to be created. Never one to pass up an opportunity to profit, ICANN began a significant bureaucratic process to delegate these new top level domains.

Now the people who brought you .org are excited to tell you about .ngo|.ong. As many of you know, NGO is the abbreviation for “non-governmental organization,” and if you speak Spanish, French, or Italian you would say it “organization non-governmental” or ONG.

The reality is, this is nothing more than another way for the folks who manage these TLDs to make money by selling you variations of the domain you already own rent. That being said, we would advise you register a .ngo|.ong domain.

While the NGO abbreviation isn’t used widely domestically, it is internationally, so the appeal for international organizations is fairly obvious. What isn’t so obvious, and is a bit interesting, is a plan to launch an NGO Portal.

You can read more about that portal here, but it is attempting to be a global authority, similar to GuideStar.

The portal isn’t live, so it is impossible to say how important it will be going forward.

It is remarkably easy to register for a .org domain, so much so that it doesn’t really mean much, but it appears as if .ngo|.ong will carry the same air of authenticity as .edu domains. This becomes important for search-engine ranking.

Traditionally, Google has considered links from .edu and .gov domains to carry more weight than other domains, and this may be extended to .ngo|.ong domains as well, but again, this is speculation.

Taken together with the brand considerations around owning variations of your primary domain, we recommend that all the ministries we serve register a .ngo|.ong domain name.