As of 2013, there was over 10 million web addresses registered that used an .org domain name. To put that into perspective, as of 2013 there were 250 million registered web addresses worldwide. Within a two year period, the number of web addresses registered doubled and each year, there is a dramatic increase in the demand for unique IDs on the web.
This should begin to explain why there are so many different domain name extensions now available. With each new dot us, dot org or dot info approved by ICANN, the number of possible addresses increases. ICANN, the regulatory and management committee for Internet addresses is in a scramble to try and create a means to keep more addresses coming and to try and impose some sort of order on the addressing.
The .org domain name type was one of the first additions to the dot com standard that had been used for decades. What went right and what went wrong with how dot org was implemented has served as a model for all other name extensions.
ICANN intended the .org domain name to be used primarily by non-profit organizations, hence the use of org as the identifier. When dot org came into being in 2003, it was listed with the Public Interest Registry, which is a part of the structure that provides VeriSign, to manage. The hope being that PIR could help verify that companies truly had a non-profit status before being issued a dot org name.
A means was seen as needed to differentiate between a company that was trying to do business on the Internet and one that was providing an information service or was raising money for a non-profit cause. Most major non-profits already had a dot com registered, but newer and smaller ones felt that their purpose was getting lost in a sea of advertising and, with the rise on online spammers, it was too easy for a “fake” site to be generated that hoodwinked visitors into giving money to hustlers.
Other countries adopted the model with a few slight variations to indicate that the service organizations were specific to their borders (.org or .or). Given how other attempts at making categories via extensions and allowing companies and services to self-elect to take part in the system when registering have not been that successful, one would expect the same story from the dot org family. But a surprise was in store for industry watchdogs.
When ICANN did a survey of the types of websites using the .org domain name they found that for the most part, the original intention and mission of the dot org idea had held true. Unlike other extensions, like dot triple x that was intended for adult content and now is becoming about extreme supports, there seems to be something about the intention of dot org that almost everyone is respecting.
You will find sports teams, religious organizations, charities, fraternal and social groups, medical groups and other non-profits using the name. Even commercial businesses, who have dot coms, tend to register a dot org name for their projects or departments that are community or crisis oriented. Most notably, the open-source community has wholly embraced dot org. Open source is a kind of social movement to provide free software and technology that reveals its inner workings so that people can collaborate on making it better.
Although there was an initial attempt to verify and regulate the .org domain name registration process, the regulation of it is now self-determined. Anyone can register a dot org name. There are no registration restrictions. But is it a good choice for you? Dot org has remained true to its original intent to be service and non-profit oriented. If you try to use it for a for-profit site, the social backlash could make it a problem.
Alternatively, the dot org names allows for what is called second level registrations. If you have a commercial site (for instance a dot com) and want to create a separate site that is about the grants and charities you are a part of, you can register a sub-domain to the dot com that uses dot org. This keeps the sites connected and within the same range of results in a search engine but prevents you from being perceived as taking advantage of the social perception of dot orgs being only about helping.