25 Years of Community and Philanthropy on the World Wide Web

This month marks the 25th anniversary of World Wide Web, a platform that has forever changed the way we communicate, congregate, find and share information. For the non-profit community, the World Wide Web has done that and more by providing a platform where organizations can serve the greater good without boundaries.

Twenty-five years ago, British computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee proposed a system where data could be shared between computers, creating a Web of information. The Internet was not new at the time, but Berners-Lee suggested that specified sets of technology would make it more assessable and useful to the general public. Those specifiers include ones we still use today like Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) which enables the retrieval of linked resources from across the Web.

While much has changed over the past the 25 years, one thing about the World Wide Web remains the same: as Berners-Lee said, "this is for everyone."

The Web is universal and can work with any device, any language and any culture. There is no hierarchy and there are no royalties. Most importantly, it is built upon open standards and collaboration. It aims to serve the public interest.

Others who aim to serve the public interest, like the more than 10 million.org users have been able to further their pursuit of the greater good because of the Web. Non-profits in particular have been radically impacted by the reach, knowledge and access it provides.

Take online giving for instance, which has seen double-digit growth in recent years. One example is #GivingTuesday (www.givingtuesday.org) -- a daylong national effort to help charities raise money online during the holiday shopping season. While the movement lives online and offline, it relies heavily on the Web to mobilize communities, charities, businesses and individuals to participate. In fact, during its second annual initiative on Dec. 3, 2013, online donations processed by Giving Tuesday partner Blackbaud rose 90 percent compared to 2012, and garnered more than $19 million for nearly 4,000 nonprofits.

The Web has also made it possible for the individual to support disaster relief efforts, even when on the other side of the world. For example, when Japan was struck by a devastating tsunami, when a building collapsed in Bangladesh, and when dozens of competitors and spectators were victims during the Boston Marathon attacks, people from across the world turned to Websites like www.japansociety.org, www.ifrc.org and www.onefundboston.org respectively to take action.

As the not-for-profit operator of the .org domain, we at Public Interest Registry have witnessed the impact of the World Wide Web and how it's helped nonprofits and businesses, groups and communities, and families and individuals further their work on behalf of the greater good. In fact, the .org domain was established four years prior to Berners-Lee's proposal, and in the 25 years since, Public Interest Registry has remained committed to the philosophy of the World Wide Web by operating an open domain that brings people together.

Since its inception in 1985, .org has empowered and mobilized more than 10 million websites, serving as a reliable online home for organizations and individuals to communicate with their core audiences about a shared interest, passion or cause. As our name implies, we believe in acting in the public interest and we aim to provide an online platform where anyone has a voice.

As the Web celebrates its 25th anniversary, we look back and remember the proposal dubbed "vague but exciting" that ultimately transcended miles and barriers to make us a global village and further the philanthropic efforts of millions. Happy Birthday, Web! #web25

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