NGO SHOULD GO DIGITAL
Attending the Social Impact award function at Guwhati afforded me an opportunity to get an insight to the problems being faced by NGOs. NGOs all across the country normally complain that they are not getting recognition and support for the good work being done by them. In Sikkim also we have many NGOs doing yeoman service in remote areas but are struggling to sustain themselves because of lack of finances. They also tend to lose steam because the noble work tHOhey are doing does not get acknowledged by the society.
It is a proven fact that one effective way to get visibility is by hosting a website. Unless NGOs have a digital presence they do not exist. Many have set up their websites using the .ORG domain but this has not made any difference.
Although .ORG was meant for non profit organizations, it has been misused as there is no mechanism to verify the reliability of these organisatons. Even profit making organizations are using the .ORG domain. Organisations having doubtful credentials have used .ORG. Of the 6 million .org websites it is estimated that only 1.5 million websites belong to NGOs and Non profit organizations and the rest 4.5 million are being used by profit organizations. In fact anyone can get a .ORG domain. Obviously the digital space was overcrowded especially the .ORG domain and it was becoming difficult for genuine NGOs to stand out. At a time when there is growing distrust of NGOs across the country the need for a validated and verified identity has become all the more pertinent for non profits .
This is where I come to the issue of a separate digital domain exclusively for NGOs. Public Interest Registry(PIR) is an international non profit organization that introduced the .ORG domain to the world almost three decades ago. To address the needs of the NGOs it has now introduced .NGO and .ONG (for Spanish speaking countries) a new top-level domain exclusively designed for the NGO Community of the world with a mission to provide validated digital identities to the non-profits .
The advantages of having a .NGO website are: 1. Visibility& Trust 2.Validation& Certification 3.Online Fundraising & Social Media Presence 4.Web2.0 Solutions.
One icing on the cake is that PIR is providing a boquet of services through a On good suite, OnGood is an exclusive suite of online services revolutionising the way NGOs and nonprofits worldwide raise awareness, funds and support for their missions.The donation button is particularly interesting as it enables you to get funding from donors.. There is now a law making it mandatory for big companies to spend 2 percent of their profits in the Social and Environment Sector under a programme called Corporate Social Responsibility. These corporate Houses are scouting the internet for good projects that they can fund. Many individuals with large hearts also like to donate small amounts for a good cause and the donate button becomes an effective gateway of crowdsourcing funding. NGO doman therefore becomes a platform where you can transform unique ideas into reality: a place where creative ideas meet financial contributors .
OnGood’s validation process reassures Internet users worldwide that websites with .NGO and .ONG identities represent genuine NGOs.Membership includes a customisable online profile within the OnGood community where NGOs showcase campaigns, share activities and information, and collect donations. Registration is easy. Simply complete the 3-step validation questionnaire to show your NGO status and take advantage of the .ngo & .ong benefits.
Digital Empowerment Foundation (www.defindia.org) is spearheading the promotion of the .ngo domain in India in collaboration with PIR
Having a .NGO domain name will help your ngo to stand out in terms of visibility, genuineness and credibility.It will enable your organization to tap funds from donors especially Corporate Social Responsibility where funding mechanism is very stringent. Digital Empowerment Foundation DEF (www.defindia.org) New Delhi is organizing workshops during which NGOs are taught to host their websites with .NGO domain and also how to seek alternate sources of funding through crowd funding, on line donations and from various agencies especially under Corporate Social Responsibility. Crowd funding is particularly interesting. You can use it to get funds for your projects by requesting individuals to donate small amounts through a donate button on your website. Using the .NGO platform and the OnGood suite would facilitate partnering with other NGOs and learning from good stories. To go for a .NGO website you need to invest between Rs 5000 to 9000 depending on the plan you go for. This would include domain registration charges, website hosting and handholding charges..
Thousands of NGOs all across the country and South Asian nations and Africa have benefited from workshops organized by DEF. Workshops were also conducted in most of the North Eastern States the last one in Guwhati on 28 August 2015.
A similar one day worshop is slated to be held at Gangtok shortly depending on the response.. Interested NGOs may email Sikkim.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or contact 9434186291/8348165399 for more details.
(Rajesh Verma is a member of Green Circle, a local environment group)