Non-Profit Hosting and Support
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Take Ownership of Your Non-Profit Domain

Flickr-4450734681One of the things we often see with organizations is that they don’t actually “own” their non-profit domain and website. Sure,  they upload the pictures, write the  articles and do all the things they should be doing to communicate their message,  however, they don’t actually own their website.  On the internet, the names of websites, (aka the domain name), is purchased and registered with one of many companies authorized to sell names.   When the purchase is made, the owner’s name is recorded as the “Registrant”.  This person is the ultimate owner of the domain name. Often,  with non-profit organizations, their website has been donated or purchased from friends or family and the owner is listed as someone who is not employed or affiliated with the non-profit organization any more.

If you do not actually own the name, then you are at at the listed owner’s mercy to renew the payments when it expires, and do the things necessary to keep your internet name active and working   A bigger issue, is that the listed owner could hold your website hostage and not allow you to move to a new hosting provider, or other unseemly business practices.  Fortunately most companies who deal with non-profits are not unscrupulous and will work with you to setup ownership correctly.

Check Your Domain

Before you read any further, the first thing you need to do is find out who owns your domain.  Fortunately this is usually easy to do.  Visit the website http://whois.domaintools.com/ and find out who owns your website right now.  Enter your domain name in the search box, and click the big LOOKUP button.

Here you will see who the registration company is, along with the Registrant, Administrative Contact and the Technical Contact.  The Administrative Contact controls when and how your domain name can be transferred to another party and the registrant is the ultimate owner.  In some cases the information will not not be listed due to privacy settings being enabled.  If this is the case you will have to contact the listed registration company, or whomever you purchased the domain name through.

Update Your Contact Info

Now that you know who owns your website, the next thing you need to do is update the contact information.  There are 3 pieces of contact information you need to ensure are updated.

  1. Registrant – This is the ultimate owner of the domain.  Often a specific name is not associated with the registration, and rather just the name of the business is listed.
  2. Admin – The administrative contact holds the power to transfer the domain name to another party.  When you request to take ownership of your domain, the email address associated with the Admin contact will be used to send instructions and authorization codes.  Having this information is key to a successful domain transfer.
  3. Technical – The technical contact is usually the person or company that manages your website, email and other aspects of your internet presence.  This person may not be  an employee of your organization, but rather a service provider.

If the domain is not yours, then you need to contact one of the people listed in the registration to have the proper information for your organization.  It makes sense to have someone reliable in your organization listed as the Registrant and Admin contacts.  If you are not currently able to edit this information then keep the technical contact as the person who does have this access.  Last thing to remember is that the person who has access to the registrar account will be able to change this information, so you may want to transfer to a different account and registrar.

Next read about how to Transfer Your Non-Profit Domain into your own account.