30 Years of .org

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To mark the 30th anniversary of the first .ORG domain registration on July 10, 1985, we want to celebrate the history and share the stories of just some of the millions of great organizations that have channeled their passion online.

Because it’s a nonprofit, because it’s one of the original top-level domains, and because its focus originally was on non-profit organizations in the domain name space, .ORG has a kind of natural birthright as a thought leader and spokes-organization with a degree of conscience.

We hope you enjoy learning more about all these wonderful .ORGs, sharing your favorites and even submitting your own. Thanks for your support, and have fun!


The .ORG Story begins in the early days of the Internet, in late 1983.

“Although .ORG’s growth in the mid-1990s did not approach that of .COM, the opening of the Internet had an undeniable impact on the domain. The advent of commerce on the Internet helped further establish .ORG’s identity as the home for non-commercial organizations, while the lifting of the NSF’s acceptable use policy enabled them to engage in marketing, advertising, and fundraising. It was during this period that many longstanding organizations—such as the Red Cross, the United Way, PETA, and the NAACP—first became .ORGs, in a wave of registrations that served to solidify public perceptions of .ORG as the home for such groups.”

“As the decade neared its end, though, the story began to shift. Almost imperceptibly, the Internet had become ubiquitous. It is what society relies on, daily—for the transfer of billions of dollars between banks at the end of the day, for health services, for transportation, for emergency communication. Macro economies depend on it, as does the security of nations. What originated as a government research project has become, over the course of a few decades, the central nervous system of an increasingly interconnected world.It was during this transformational decade that .ORG became the registry it is today, operated and maintained by PIR in the public interest.”

“ISOC’s bid had carried the day; on January 1, 2003, it would assume the responsibility for maintaining and operating the .ORG registry. Now it had just a few months to establish a new company—PIR—from the ground up, and plan, with Afilias, for what would be the largest transfer of a registry in the Internet’s history. The Internet Society had made the decision to set up PIR as a related and separate entity for the administration of .ORG, so that ISOC could maintain the distance necessary to continue its own mission. PIR was established as a separate, non-profit membership corporation, of which ISOC is the sole member, with a separate board of directors appointed by ISOC. With their line of credit, a loan from Afilias, and pro bono support, St. Amour set about staffing the new organization—selecting a board, hiring a temporary financial person and a technical administrator, and embarking on a search for the first president.”

“In PIR, the Public Interest Registry, .ORGs have a home that reflects their commitment to doing good. A not-for-profit, PIR
is chartered by the Internet Society (ISOC) to administer the .ORG registry for the benefit of its registrants and the Internet as a whole. PIR’s proceeds go towards improving the stability and security of the .ORG registry and supporting ISOC’s mission of promoting the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world.
It’s an approach that’s consistent with the Internet’s roots as a collaborative venture for the common good—which is fitting for a domain that’s almost as old as the Internet itself, with an overlapping history. It’s a history, shared in the following pages, that involves many of the same innovators and institutional players who have shaped the online world in the past quarter century and more.”

From 2004 to 2007, .org doubled in size, expanding from three to six million registrants.

After a few years of relative stasis in the size of the domain, .ORG embarked on a sustained period of significant growth early in the PIR era. From the beginning of 2004 to the first quarter of 2007, .ORG doubled in size, expanding from three milliontosixmillionregistrantsregistrants.Between2007and 2010, PIR roughly doubled its staff as well, with an increased emphasis on marketing the domain and expanding .ORG’s worldwide reach.

There is a growing trend, coinciding with the rise in corporate social responsibility campaigns, of commercial enterprises that are based primarily on .COM sites also registering .ORG domains to serve as the home for their charitable and philanthropic initiatives. To offer one example among many, Hyundai Hope on Wheels, a charity founded by Hyundai Motor America and its dealers to fight pediatric cancer, has been housed on its own dedicated .ORG site since 2008. Even the biggest .COM, Facebook, has registered Socialblood.org for its campaign to connect citizens of the same blood group and quickly locate emergency blood donors.

Another emerging trend along these lines has been the use of .ORG sites for corporate crisis communications, as in the case of product recalls, when important information needs to be disseminated to the public in a forum that engenders trust.

PIR builds partnerships such as these through programs with its registrars to offer special pricing in developing markets. The goal, insofar as is possible, is to remove cost barriers to going online, so that organizations can experience firsthand the benefits of a web presence. The Digital Empowerment Foundation, for example, offers programs that provide a domain name and the tools and guidance to build content and upload images, at little or no cost. For small organizations considering going online but uncertain about the prospective return on their investment it is, says Wolak,“a way to take the gamble out of the equation.”

On June 24, 2012, .ORG hit the 10 million mark with the registration of the domain jadforum.org.

We are very happy to celebrate 30 Years of .ORG – congratulations to all the wonderful organizations who have joined us along the way – Happy 30th .ORG!


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Are you the owner of administrator of a .org domain and want to be included in our special user gallery? Submit your site for consideration and inclusion.

Please read and review our Terms of Use before submitting.

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