Confusion: .ORG Isn’t Just for Nonprofits

September 9, 2013       Zach Halper      

Registrations have increased but major misconceptions about .ORG extensions remain, according to the new domain name report released by Reston, Va.-based Public Interest Registry (PIR), the nonprofit that manages the .ORG top-level domain (TLD).

Some 10.3 million individuals and organizations have websites with the .ORG TLD, a 2 percent increase during six months and a 3 percent increase during 12 months. PIR’s semi-annual “Dashboard” report showed that new .ORG registrations increased by 13.6 percent during the first half of 2013. Overall, 10.3 million individuals and organizations have websites with the .ORG TLD, a two-percent increase during six months and a three-percent increase during 12 months.

Brian Cute, CEO of PIR, said that the increase of new .ORG domains is part of an ongoing upward during the past few years. During that time, “the number of .ORG new creates have been between 11 percent to 15 percent, so the 13.6 percent increase in the first half of 2013 is very much in line with the trend that we have witnessed since 2010,” said Cute. “We believe that this trend reflects the active and diverse organizations that make their home in the .ORG space.”

Despite the strong growth numbers for .ORG domains, PIR found that misconceptions remained about how they work. During the past year, PIR conducted a comprehensive international research study on the overall awareness of .ORG. While the awareness of the TLD is very high across the globe, so is the perception that organizations must meet certain requirements to obtain it. For example, 66 percent of respondents in Brazil believe .ORG is a “closed” TLD and nearly 50 percent believe the same thing in the United States.

“Despite being an open domain to the public, 28 years of built-in consumer perception has made it difficult, even today, to change misconceptions about .ORG being closed and exclusively available only to nonprofits,” explained Cute.

In terms of overall use of .ORG, India has surged to the top over the past four years jumping from just 91,000 to nearly 150,000, a 60 percent increase.

.ORG is not PIR’s only TLD. The Reston, Va.-based organization recently had six new domain names approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), including .NGO/ONG. Unlike .ORG, these two TLDs will require the applicant to be a registered nonprofit. The “Dashboard” found that awareness of .NGO/ONG is high in India (nearly 70 percent) but remains low in the U.S. (15 percent) and Germany (20 percent).

“While we find the steady growth of .ORG in international markets promising, it’s clear that more education needs to be done for both the .ORG and .NGO/.ONG domains,” said Cute.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Since 2007, .ORG domains under management increased by 86.8 percent.
  • Wiki and open-source websites represented the greatest number of .ORGs at 22 percent. Schools were the next highest at 17 percent.
  • There was an average 34,361 new .ORG domains per month in the first half of 2013.
  • The “blended” renewal rate (the average of one, two, and three-year renewals) of .ORG websites was 73.8 percent in the first half of 2013. Overall, three-year renewals had the highest rate at 84.7 percent.

You can read the full report at http://pir.org/pdf/dashboard_1H_2013.pdf