- Application for the .org Top-Level Domain -
The .ORG Foundation

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' (ICANN) decision to place the .org registry under different operation than the .com and .net registries has far-reaching, positive implications for the future of a well-diversified .org community. The .Org Foundation applauds ICANN for its commitment to preserve the stability of the .org Top-Level Domain (TLD) while transitioning the .org Registry to an organization that is responsive to the community that it serves. ICANN has taken a leadership role in using Internet technology to make the .org community more successful. Internet technology has the power to strengthen the nonprofit community by bringing people together, extending the nonprofit community's reach, and narrowing the digital divide that exists between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.

The .Org Foundation Mission Statement:
The .Org Foundation was established to efficiently serve the needs of .org registrants and the wider Internet community, via the Domain Name System (DNS), to be the most accountable registry provider possible for the .org community and to, secondarily, foster self-sufficiency for nonprofit organizations worldwide through the use of Internet technologies. We intend to insure that the management of the .org domain is in the hands of the .org community it serves. We believe that technology has the ability to strengthen the nonprofit community by bringing people together, extending the nonprofit community's reach, and leveling the field between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. We believe that technology, and specifically the DNS, can be one of the most powerful tools nonprofits can use in the pursuit of their missions.

Support from the Global .Org Internet Community:
We have shared our mission and received committed support from various commercial and noncommercial organizations including Washington State Governer Gary Locke, Microsoft, Corp., Boeing Community Affairs, Digital Partners, Washington State Representative Laura Ruderman (member of the State Technology, Telecommunications, and Energy Committee), The Grameen Technology Center, The Microcredit Summit Campaign, Seattle Network, and Women in Digital Journalism. We anticipate more support as our bid for the .org registry and our mission of commitment to serve the .org community becomes more widely know.

The .Org Foundation's Commitment to Serve the .Org Community:
The .Org Foundation is committed to providing affordable registry services with the highest level of service responsiveness, functionality, and reliability. Additionally, the Foundation has a deep commitment to the financial viability of nonprofits and their need for increased access to Internet technology. The Foundation is committed to facilitate the advancement of this goal by providing and facilitating technology grants to the nonprofit community.

The .Org Foundation is structured to be a reflection of the nonprofit community it serves. Included in the Foundation's Governance Plan is an At-Large mechanism that is built from bottom-up, self-organized, local nonprofit community institutions and other organizations. This At-Large community will have the authority to elect two At-Large Board Members per year, for the first five years of operation of the Foundation, to the board of directors of the Foundation. The goal is to have the majority (2/3) of the board comprised of geographically dispersed members from the .org at-large community. Voting, which will be used to elect the directors and to decide other matters, will be restricted to .org registrants and accomplished by .org registrants online via an extension to the EPP interface. This structure puts the control of the Foundation into the hands of the elected representatives of the community that it serves.

The Differentiation of the .Org Top-Level Domain (TLD):
A key objective of The .Org Foundation is to differentiate the .org TLD from TLDs intended for commercial purposes. The .org registry will remain open and unrestricted to any registrant. The Foundation will promote and attract registrations from the global noncommercial community, to minimize defensive and duplicative registrations. One main area of focus will be clarifying the .org TLD through a whois self-identification mechanism and through marketing communications activities. The Foundation will develop the messages and the identity that will promote and clarify the .org TLD as the global noncommercial TLD. We will partner with other .org entities willing to promote the .org TLD message and the services provided by The .Org Foundation in support of the .org community. And we will also develop channel partnerships with .orgs currently supporting nonprofits with technology issues to disseminate the message of the .org TLD as the TLD for the global noncommercial community.

The .Org Foundation Organizational Implementation:
The .Org Foundation will provide a means for nonprofit organizations to utilize the Internet to become more effective. The Foundation will create mechanisms to facilitate technology grants to the .org community. The .org registry income stream, the ICANN endowment and a matching fund will facilitate this mission. The Foundation will seek funds from the ICANN endowment only to the extent that third parties contribute matching funds to the Foundation. The charge of the Foundation's development department will be to seek matching funds, including technology and infrastructure donations, to be reinvested in the .org community.

The .Org Foundation will create a website to array the existing Internet technology services, currently available to nonprofit organizations, into a single cohesive location. This will include a searchable directory listing of registrants who are technology grant makers, grant seekers and technology service providers that choose (voluntarily provided information collected via an extension to the EPP) to be listed. These listings will contain an optional link to the website of the organization and a central repository for .org content (e.g. best practices). The website will provide a central forum for nonprofit organizations on a variety of topics including how The .Org Foundation itself functions, and it will ensure that the voices of the .org community that The .Org Foundation serves will be heard by all. This website will be actively promoted to the .org community by the Foundation's marketing and communications activities. Pending polling announcements will be displayed in the registry's whois output, and on the registry's website, and the vote for a particular domain may be displayed in the registry whois output as well. The Foundation will not use the whois information to initiate contact, via email or otherwise, directly to registrants.

The .Org Foundation is committed to establishing a broad variety of mechanisms for serving the needs of the .org community reflecting as much diversity as possible. To address the issue of representation and inclusion of the .org community in the operation and policies governing the .org registry the Foundation will implement the following:
  • Regularly scheduled "Open Forums" to discuss the needs and concerns of the .org community.
  • Quarterly .org community meetings, physically or by telephone conference
  • Annual .org community Congress (rotating locations to all regions) held to discuss and establish policies and structures for the support of the .org registry and the .org community. The intention is to have stakeholders from the .org community give input and influence in the direction and oversight of The .Org Foundation.
  • Establish a Governance Plan that designates a specific number of Board Members be nominated by and elected from the .org community with the intention to have stakeholders from the .org community give input and influence in the direction and oversight of The .Org Foundation.
  • Implement an EPP polling mechanism that will provide a voice for the .org registrants, the EPP interface will be extended to allow each registered domain to cast a vote on nominated candidates for Director for The .Org Foundation Board and other initiatives put forth by The .Org Foundation Board or the .Org At Large Supporting Organization for input from the .org community.
Structure of Technical Implementation:
The .Org Foundation is committed to developing a structure that fully addresses the requirements of the .org registry agreement, this proposal, and the criteria for assessment determined by ICANN. To that end we considered building our own infrastructure, instead we have identified and contracted with eNom, Inc., an accredited ICANN registrar, to be the registry service provider to perform the technical implementation of the registry operator's policy.

If this proposal is accepted, to help ensure fair access and to remove a potential conflict of interest, the registry service provider will immediately refrain from making further registrations in the .org registry. It will maintain existing .org names it sponsors until they can be transferred to another ICANN accredited registrar. After this transition is completed, the registry service provider will become de-accredited as an .org registrar.

To help ensure broader competition for registry services, and to remove a built-in advantage gained by the initial registry service provider, the Foundation stipulates that the contracted registry service provider is prohibited from providing any registry services other than those specified in the services table listed below. For example the contracted registry service provider will not provide email forwarding, await list service, or special fat whois notification services. Additionally, The .Org Foundation contemplates no other domain name related registry services, other than those outlined in this proposal, at this time. Using matching funds, the Foundation does plan to offer philanthropic services and other non-domain name related services for noncommercial organizations.

If in the future, The .Org Foundation innovates other domain name related registry services or requires a registry service related to the technical operation of the registry, an RFP process would be used to select the additional service provider in cooperation with the existing service provider to provide the new service to the registry operator. This will allow innovation and improvements without building-in a competitive advantage to the initial registry service provider. Compliance with future related IETF BCPs and RFCs, and ICANN policies will be maintained with no additional cost for the duration of the contract.

Also, to ensure competition and quality service at the lowest cost offered by The .Org Foundation the registry service provider contract will be re-bid every two years beginning on the third year anniversary of the delegation. The initial registry service provider will not be prohibited from being allowed to compete to perform similar services for other registries.

The initial registry service provider will provide the following registry services, and only these services, on behalf of The .Org Foundation with equivalent access to all ICANN registrars, who, as currently, will be the only paying customers to the registry operator:

Service Fee to Registrar
Registrations (including adding years to a name, or "renewing" a name) including IDN names $4.95/name/year
Re-registrations (registration of deleted names using dialy mini-sunrises) $4.95/name/year
Registrar to registrar transfers none
Transition from RRP to EPP with extensions none
Real-time zone file updates/DNS none
Fat-registry whois database service similar to other EPP registries none
Compliance with future IETF RFCs, BCPs, and ICANN policy none
Billing, 24/7 customer service, maintenance of the registry database, bulk access to zone files, name server registrations, registry data escrow, and other registry functions that are currently provided. none

The registration fee and ICANN endowment will be used to help operate the registry at cost and with the current level of reliable service provided by the current operator, and to provide improvements to that service, such as real-time DNS zone updates and the EPP .org voting mechanism, for the registry. Any matching funds (anticipated) or surplus funds (not anticipated) will be used to benefit the .org community, in the manner the .org community, via the Foundation, sees fit.

In summary, The .Org Foundation in conjunction with the registry service provider will provide the same stable registry technical service that is currently provided for .org registrars, registrants, and the Internet user community, with the following improvements:
  • Transition to EPP from RRP, providing many benefits, the biggest one may well be authorization codes to facilitate transfers, the basis of competition.
  • Better handling of deleted names, with the same fairness and cost as re-registering deleted names today.
  • Real-time zone file updates for faster domain provisioning and so that zone file errors can be detected and corrected faster.
  • Free transfers. To help encourage competition among registrars and freer choice for registrants, after the transition to EPP, transfers will be free, and will not add a year (complies with RFC 2832)
  • Self-categorization. The .org registry will be open and unrestricted to any registrant, just as it is today: non-profit, for-profit, organization, individual, etc. Registrants can continue to decide if the .org TLD is appropriate for them and there will continue to be no eligibility requirements, though we propose the following new feature: After the EPP transition is complete, registrants will be given the opportunity to declare whether or not they are a commercial for-profit, or a non-profit organization, an individual, etc. and if they are non-profit, are they a grant making, or grant receiving (or both) organization. This non-required information will be displayed in the whois output, gives an added benefit for non profit organization to select the .org TLD, reinforces the original purpose for the .org TLD, allows grant-making .orgs to connect with grant receiving organizations via a registry (or 3rd party) supplied search, and will allow the registry to disburse excess and matching funds/resources back to non-profit organizations that the registry primarily serves. The information will not be used to settle disputes amongst registrants.
  • EPP polling mechanism. To provide a voice for the .org registrants, the EPP interface will be extended to allow each registered domain to cast a vote; in much the same way as whois information is modified today. Since transfers are free, registrants who wish to vote can easily choose which registrar to utilize that provides the voting capability to registrants. Validation of registrant identity by the registrar is the same as for changing name servers for a domain, for example. Votes will be published in the whois output for the domain. The foundation board will get a report, for example, showing how many domains who declare themselves to be a non-profit organization, voted "for" the resolution.
The .Org Foundation Founders:
The .Org Foundation has assembled a high-powered experienced team of people to ensure that the operation of the .org registry is done thoroughly and professionally.

Executive Director: Mr. T. Drayton, is an international technology entrepreneur and co-founded HomeGrocer.com as well as five other start-up companies. Mr. Drayton won the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Pacific Northwest. Mr. Drayton holds a Bachelor of Commerce and MBA degrees and teaches a course on creating new ventures at the University of Washington Business School's Program for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Operations Director: Ms. Melessa Rogers, is a seasoned nonprofit management professional. She was Director of Operations for RESULTS, Inc., a leading hunger and poverty grassroots advocacy organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. She launched and managed a software company for five years that provided fully integrated software developed solely for nonprofits. She has an associate's degree in Computer Science and a B.A. in Communications and worked in the corporate sector as a systems analyst, project manager, and software developer for more than ten years.

Information Technology Director: Mr. Robert Duffy has led technology initiatives that launched three Internet based companies over the last five years including Count Me In, Inc., an online registration and registration management hosted service that services the nonprofit community. Mr. Duffy has over nineteen years of development, consultant and management experience within a variety of industries including the nonprofit sector. Mr. Duffy has a B.S. in Applied Mathematics and Operations Research from the University of Tulsa.

Development Director: Ms. Sheila Richardson is a respected market development consultant. She was founding Marketing Director of Powder Magazine and was Business Development Officer at Solthree Software, Inc., Director of Marketing and Business Development at Entegra Consulting, Inc. and has consulted several software, technology and digital media companies. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards, is a past president of the board of the 911Media Arts Center and was the founding development director of the Digital Media Alliance, now part of the WSA. She is a Seattle native and a Phi Beta Kappa, Cum Laude graduate of the University of Washington.