30March

The new .ngo domain — is it worth the cost for SA NGOs?

Guest blog post by Ruendree Govinder, founder of the Nonprofit Network: a resource centre for South African nonprofit organisations using social media, websites and e-newsletters to further their mission. 

The new .ngo domain — is it worth the cost for SA NGOs?

A domain or URL refers to your website address. Nonprofit or civil society organisations have long held the .org domain space, which identifies websites that end with “.org" as those belonging to nonprofit organisations. In South Africa we have also used “ org.za" (free for registered South African nonprofits). But registration of  a .org and .org.za website is not restricted — anyone can use the suffix, regardless of what their website or organisation actually does. 


Enter .ngo

The Public Interest Registery (http://pir.org/) has launched a verified domain service which means that only organisations that meet the eligibility criteria will qualify to register a .ngo domain for their website. Criteria include:

-  Focused on acting in the public interest.
-  Non-profit focused entities.
-  Limited government influence.
-  NGO staff/members are independent actors.
-  Active organisations, which are structured and lawful

For more details on the criteria see: http://globalngo.org/discover/eligibility/.


What are the benefits of registering?
  • The domain clearly identifies your organisation as a validated nonprofit organisation. 
  • You will be listed on the OnGood website — a global resource and directory for nonprofit organisations. You will have the ability to create and manage your own profile page for your organisation.
  • You will be able to fundraise from your OnGood profile page — though note that the “ability” to fundraise does not mean that you can create your page and wait for the donations to come rolling in! You still need to make a good case for support, market your fundraising campaign, and have a process in place for donor stewardship. (See: Ask Inyathelo for resources on developing all aspects of your fundraising and advancement strategy: http://www.askinyathelo.org.za)

Our organisation already has a domain - or several domains! What do we do?
  • If you decide to register .ngo as an additional domain, the easiest option is to “park” the .ngo domain and have it redirect to your website. For example, we could register http://www.inyathelo.ngo and simply have it redirect to our current website, http://www.inyathelo.org.za. People could use either of these domains to find our website, and we could decide which domain we prefer when marketing our site.


What does it cost, and how do we register the domain?

Currently, registration is only available to organisations with registered trademarks on their names. From 21 April - 5 May 2015, organisations that submitted an Expression of Interest will be allowed to register their domains. From 6 May 2015, registration is open to all NGOs. 

  • Submit your expression of interest here: http://globalngo.org/discover/eoi/.  Note: There is no obligation to register the domain if you change your mind. 
  • When registration is open, find a registrar here: http://pir.org/products/find-a-registrar/?sorter=ngo%20descNote: Few registrars are currently able to offer registration for the .ngo domain due to the verification process of your organisation’s eligibility. Check with your web host for assistance. 

Costs will be set by the registrar. Currently, http://www.101domain.com lists a once-off setup fee of between $40 - $200 (R480 and R2416) and an annual fee of $10 - $25 (between R100 and R300). 


Conclusion

While the annual domain fees are in line with other international domains, the setup fees are excessive, and it is unlikely that most South African NGOs will be able to justify spending potentially over R2500 just for a domain, despite the value-adds. My verdict is to wait for the registration period to officially open, for the costs to stabilise, and perhaps for the rand/dollar exchange rate to improve, before deciding if the .ngo domain is worth the investment.