New digital platform to empower NGOs

The newly launched domain will address issue of trust deficit

August 20, 2015 12:00 am | Updated March 29, 2016 04:23 pm IST - PUDUCHERRY:

In an atmosphere of increased negative focus on non-governmental organisations, members of around 100 different NGOs attended the South India launch of an exclusive domain ‘.ngo’ for NGOs at Puducherry on Wednesday. The new domain is expected to address the crucial issue of trust deficit.

Earlier launched in U.S.

The domain was launched in US earlier this year by the Public Interest Registry, which is the registry for the .org and .ong domains.

In India, it is being introduced by the Digital Empowerment Foundation, which works to bridge the digital divide through its eNGO Programme for NGOs in India, South Asia and Africa. The domain had a national launch in July in New Delhi.

The .ngo domain is unique as it can be used by verified and registered NGOs alone, after a stringent validation process. For the first time, a domain address cannot simply be bought.

Addressing representatives of the NGOs at the launch, Osama Manzar, founder, Digital Empowerment Foundation, said, “NGOs must have a face on the internet to increase visibility for the hard work that is done. This will help you raise the required funds.” In a sense, this would be a cleaning up of the NGO world, he said. Jeri Curry, CEO, Enset, the non-profit domain registrar of PIR, said, “If you cannot be found, you cannot be part of the conversation.” Ms. Curry said that the need for an exclusive domain came from within the sector.

NGOs must consider switching to the domain because it is validated, she said. “The .ngo domain says we are here, we can be found and we are credible. It raises visibility of the sector,” she said.

For NGOs to grow, it is important to keep up with the times, including becoming digitally equipped, said Anjali Schiavina, Chairperson, CII-Indian Women Network Puducherry and Managing Director, Mandala Apparels Pvt. Ltd., a social enterprise.

Amitabh Singhal, board member, Public Interest Registry, said that when .org was launched, it had automatically become the domain for all NGOs. There are around 10 million .org websites, he said. Getting the .ngo domain would provide a package of services, including ease of receiving donations with a ‘donation button’. “.ngo is a further validation of the good work you are doing,” he said.

Gayatri from the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs said that Rs. 20,000 crore was available for Corporate Social Responsibility funding and as per the Companies Act, 2013, a total of 16,000 companies have to set aside funds for CSR. She added that India was the first to mandate such a provision, and that the .ngo domain would address the trust deficit between corporates and NGOs.

Switching essential

NGOs must consider switching to the domain because it is validated, she said. “The .ngo domain says we are here, we can be found and we are credible. It raises visibility of the sector,” she said.

For NGOs to grow, it is important to keep up with the times, including becoming digitally equipped, said Anjali Schiavina, Chairperson, CII-Indian Women Network Puducherry and Managing Director, Mandala Apparels Pvt. Ltd., a social enterprise.

Amitabh Singhal, board member, Public Interest Registry, said that when .org was launched, it had automatically become the domain for all NGOs. There are around 10 million .org websites, he said. Getting the .ngo domain would provide a package of services, including ease of receiving donations with a ‘donation button’. “.ngo is a further validation of the good work you are doing,” he said.

CSR funding

Gayatri from the Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs said that Rs. 20,000 crore was available for Corporate Social Responsibility funding and as per the Companies Act, 2013, a total of 16,000 companies have to set aside funds for CSR. She added that India was the first to mandate such a provision, and that the .ngo domain would address the trust deficit between corporates and NGOs.

Mr. Manzar said that there are around 31 lakh NGOs in India at present, with only around 2,90,000 of them filing Income Tax returns. “It is important to get online, file returns and let the government know what you are doing.”

He said NGOs should have their websites before it is made mandatory by the government.

“We want maximum NGOs to get online. This offers a simplified, low cost and efficient way of doing it.”

Elango Rangaswamy, founder, Trust for Village Self Governance, said, “What prevents NGOs from becoming transparent? Being transparent increases chances for funding. He asked NGOs to tap into the power of information. “.ngo is going to be a great opportunity for NGOs.”

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