.ORG is the traditional “top-level domain” for websites of nonprofits and other non-governmental organizations. But critics argue that the .ORG domain is unregulated, which leads to confusion and misleading websites. Hence, the proposed .NGO domain. Public Interest Registry and dotNGO are each vying to manage the new domain and create improved regulations.
If ICANN, the overseer of web addresses, approves the new top-level domain, one of these powerful Internet companies will likely create a new vetting process to ensure that every .NGO address is taken by a legitimate nonprofit.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that initial reactions among the nonprofit sector are mixed. On the one hand, once available, it may be costly for nonprofit organizations to establish their new .NGO web addresses. Indeed, it will be imperative for organizations to register their websites under the .NGO domain in order to protect against pirating of their name and goodwill. On the other hand, the promised vetting process will help nonprofits, especially smaller ones, establish their legitimacy. Regardless, at this early stage, it is unclear exactly what the vetting process will entail.
ICANN has yet to act on the proposals to establish the .NGO domain. Once it does, it is expected that it will take at least 9 months to select a company to manage the new top-level domain. Only then will minimum standards for the .NGO domain be promulgated. Once they are, make sure your nonprofit is first in line to register.