Would a church be interested in buying the .com & .net versions of their .org domain?
January 31, 2012 9:59 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for advice about selling a domain name to a large church organization.

I own the .com and .net versions of a word that a state-level church diocese uses as a main site. They have the .org. How would I go about finding out if they'd even be interested in buying them from me? Would they even want the .com and .net if they already have the .org and they're just a church and not some aggressive online space-marketing thing?

I hope I don't sound greedy, and I'm sure they'd love for me to donate both of them but the only reason I'm considering this is because I really need money more than a couple idle domains right now. I'm not domain squatting. It's just a coincidence, and I registered the names long before I knew about the existence of this organization.

Do you think I'd have better luck (and better price) on the open market? Is this a fruitless pursuit because of something I'm overlooking or am unaware of? I know very little about this topic other than skimming some old AskMes just now.
posted by distressingly thick sheets to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just because they are a church, it does not mean they aren't consumers. Churches pay for all sorts of stuff just like everyone else.

Send a letter to their administration and give them a heads up that you are looking to sell and offering them a first crack at it. If the cost is reasonable, they may take you up on it so it doesn't get domain hijacked for some nefarious purpose. Greed doesn't have anything to do with it. You have a product, they may have a need or wish to acquire that product. Run a WHOIS, get the admin contact, send an email.

Now if it was a deal where you swooped in on an expired domain and were holding it hostage, that would be another issue.
posted by lampshade at 11:08 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, just contact the domain admin and make an offer. They may not be interested, but they might.
posted by valkyryn at 11:51 AM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

IANAChurch, but I've worked for a few religious organizations (of which I was not a member of the faith in question) and therefore may (or may not) have some small amount of useful insight. FWIW, I am not looking or wanting to instigate an anti-church or anti-religion rant or inquisition, even though some of my comments may seem negative - I worked for these organizations not merely for a paycheck but because I believed in the goals they were working for in the community, even though I might not agree with the faith, and I still feel good about that work despite the often-disillusioning facts I learned along the way.

First: Don't assume that because it is a church, they will treat you charitably. Church-as-business is a very different thing from church-as-supportive-community-structure, and they are very often mutually exclusive. In fairness, there's a certain cutthroat attitude that comes with trying to accomplish miracles on an often shoestring budget - but the accompanying sense of moral justification can be less than flattering, and less than pleasant to deal with. A church might bend over backward to help a person in need - and the same day, fire an employee for needing time off to deal with a similar need. There can be totally different standards in place for seemingly similar situations, in ways that are non-intuitive or just flat out seem wrong - and the disconnect between expectations and behavior can be absolutely blindsiding, the first time you encounter it. This may not be your experience with the organization at all... but it's not a bad idea to be somewhat prepared for the possibility.

Second: It is entirely possible that they have no idea what a dotcom or a dotnet is, that they barely know what a dot-org means or represents, and any web presence they might have is (despite the level of seeming sophistication) the sole creation of someone's husband, wife, or child. It's also entirely possible that they're deeply web-savvy and know exactly what the benefits of obtaining the domains are - but may play dumb in hopes of cutting a better deal. Weirdly, the organizations of my experience seemed to fall into one or the other extreme, with no middle ground... your experience, of course, may vary.

Third: Operating under the assumption that you are not associated in any way with the group in question - try to find a reliable member of the church, if at all possible, to serve as a go-between. Uhhh... I'm working hard to find a way of phrasing this that isn't a slam... okay, how about this: any group, not just a religious one, tends to draw sharp lines around "us" and "them", and view outsiders as being somehow less than/inferior to those who "belong". The behavior is by no means a function of religion - but I have seen it manifested very strongly in every religion with whom I've had any contact with in groups of any size, and in subgroups of those religions, and subgroups of subgroups, et cetera, ad nauseum. Bottom line: most groups, you are better off dealing with as a member thereof, if at all possible, rather than an outsider.

All this having been said? My basic advice would be exactly what lampshade said. The only reason for my comment is... remembering the things that made my head spin when I first encountered them, and how inexplicable they seem even after encountering them repeatedly, and sharing that feeling with friends who've encountered the same things. Again: this is not intended as a slam against any church or religion, or churches or religions in general, merely a statement of my own experience where it might prove relevant or useful; I've tried to express myself in a way that wouldn't bruise any feelings - and I sincerely apologize if I've failed.
posted by mie at 11:56 AM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

Along with the issues Mie presented above, I think the key is that churches, while an organization, are really a collection of individuals and you need to find the right person. (I work for a church and if you spoke to me I'd get on my committee ASAP to get the domains bought pronto. If you contact the bookkeeper, she may just toss the letter in the bin.)

Also, in my experience churches do not generally move quickly. If you're looking for fast money, you may do better elsewhere.
posted by unlapsing at 6:54 PM on January 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was in a very similar situation: coincidentally owned the .com form of a large non-profit's name and had done nothing with it. I just wrote to their director of communications and ended up selling it to them for $500. One piece of advice: we used the formal domain ownership transfer process at Network Solutions and it was a surprisingly long time (months) between when they paid netsol and netsol paid me. Netsol did not disclose this anywhere in advance, even in the fine print. So be sure you research people's experiences with whatever process you're using to actually transfer ownership.
posted by kalapierson at 5:31 AM on February 1, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the info, everyone.
posted by distressingly thick sheets at 6:41 AM on February 1, 2012

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