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.NGO domain name: a go or no go for charities and NGOs?

Howard Lake | 23 June 2014 | Blogs

Earlier this year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) released more than 1,000 new top-level domain names, or “TLDs”.
You will recognise .com and .co.uk domain names, as well as the TLD favoured by charities – .org or org.uk.
But with the slew of new domain suffixes, from .ngo to .xyz (yes, there really is a .xyz domain), it is now more difficult than ever to understand what you as a charity of not-for-profits to focus on.
For example, if you live or work in the London area, you will have no doubt seen the .London campaign, touting the suffix as the one to have for all London-based businesses and charities.
But will anybody actually take up the offer? Time will tell.


The most interesting domain for charities and not-for-profits to take a look at is the .ngo domain. In 2013, Public Interest Registry (PIR) was awarded the .ngo (and .ong for Latin-based languages).
PIR already runs the .org domain name, so it was music to many people’s ears when they announced that charities that sign up for the .ngo will be able to collect donations via that domain.
In addition, PIR is developing a hub that offers an optional Facebook-style directory page for each organisation that signs up to the .ngo or .ong. Participating organisations will be able to personalise their pages with information, content and receive donations.
One benefit of using this .ngo directory is that charities will gain people’s trust through the platform. The .ong domain at the end of a web address will give credibility for legitimate charities hoping to launch or increase their online presence. If someone sees a donation page at www.oxfam.xyz, will they be trust that domain? My guess is likely not.
It’s also worth considering registering for your organisation’s .ngo domain name and using it as a placeholder for your organisation’s main domain. Although we don’t know what the .ngo directory pages will look like, you can safely say that you’ll be able to link back to your organisation’s main website and donation pages.
One case for looking at the other TLDs available is if the main .com or .org domains (and their UK equivalents) are already taken. Along with established alternatives, such as .co (Colombia) and .io (Indian Ocean), you could try registering a few alternatives to run campaigns at a new domain. For example, there is a .green domain for environmental campaigns, .fund for fundraising or grant giving organisations, and .foundation for, well, foundations.


There is also now an .app top-level domain, the most applied for TLD. If your organisation has an mobile app, this domain could be used to redirect people to the app download page. For example, www.cancer.app could redirect to the Cancer Research app download page on the App Store or Google Play.


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We’re also still waiting to hear details of the .charity domain name, which has yet to be awarded to a domain name provider. You can pre-register your interest in a .charity domain from many providers, which is worth doing if you are concerned and want to protect your organisation’s names from cyber-squatters.
With further announcements on TLDs and other charity domain names to come, the best thing you can do is concentrate on your existing online presences.
A single domain with a high authority, especially if it’s a .edu domain, .gov domain or has been registered for several years, will always outperform a newly registered domain in both Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) terms and memorability among your audiences. Ref: SEO London
Concentrate on building the audience and credibility of your own .org or .com domain name first and worry about whether to go with an .ngo domain name when the time comes.
Ben Matthews is a Director at Montfort, a Digital Marketing, Communications and Social Media Agency that works with some of the biggest and best charities and NGOs around the world. Find out more at www.montfort.io (notice the domain name?) and follow them on Twitter at @montfortio.