The .ngo domain is strictly for charities, and these charities must meet eligibility criteria to be awarded the domain.

But what makes that different to .org.au? Not much. However any organisation can currently purchase .org domains, meaning “.org” without the “.au” has zero clout in establishing credibility for charities.

The goal of .ngo is to increase credibility for online donors – which is a significant concern in the US market.  Additionally, .ngo domain holders are listed in an online portal which acts as global directory for causes.

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.ngo domain holders are listed in an online portal which acts as global directory for causes.

In the portal, charities can customise profile pages, showcase their activities and collect donations. Your Public Interest Registry is saying this will revolutionise the way that NGOs around the world connect with each other, with new partners and potentially with donors as well. Although the portal will not take commission on donations, at this point it will be the e-commerce vehicle for donors.

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In the portal, charities can customise profile pages, showcase their activities and collect donations.

Benefits for Australian charities?

If you are a small charity, trying to reach a global audience, with limited budget the .ngo domain may be for you. It can help increase credibility and, if you struggle to get web traffic and online donations, the portal may also be an easy win if you are open to receiving international donations.

For larger international organisations .ngo could pose some internal debate as only one domain name per organisation is granted with no sub domains being issued (i.e., no availability of .ngo.au). The sole domain holder would also be the primary beneficiary of donations taken via the .ngo portal.

Additionally, donations taken via the .ngo portal do not give charities control over conversion optimisation outside of setting up their portal profile page. It is currently unclear how the portal will process international tax deductions and share donor information.

Premium domain names

There is also an ability to purchase premium domains like water.ngo and charity.ngo to give an edge over competitors. There are no restrictions (yet) on purchases of these domains, so savvy charities with large budgets could snap these up quickly.  Your Public Interest Registry claim that there are SEO benefits to the premium domain, however google engineers have disputed the benefits of top level domains (like .ngo).

What should I do?

Start the conversation about .ngo and have a plan before the .ngo domain names are available from local domain providers in October. It may be as simple as purchasing the domain to re-direct to your website, or it may be a more robust way to take advantage of the new opportunity.

.ngo is still in the development and Your Public Interest Registry is interested in receiving feedback. I will be talking to the CEO next week, so if you have any questions feel free to ask them the comments below.

Read this article at ProBono Australia