Running a successful nonprofit organization is connected in large part to how well the community, state, and/or nation knows your brand and is knowledgeable of the cause. One must be able to build a brand around their nonprofit and get its name out in the public in order to raise awareness, generate donors and volunteers, and run flourishing advertising campaigns. Today, the Internet is generally one’s go-to source of information and therefore websites are critical for any organization. One’s website though is deeper than the words and pictures that are displayed on your screen. A powerful website starts with the domain name, considering this is how one will get to your organization’s site. Therefore, picking the right domain name is imperative for the long-term results of your nonprofit.

The obvious choice in a domain name is to choose the name of your organization. Therefore, if you are just starting a nonprofit organization you should determine a name before moving on to the website. Using your organization’s name as the domain helps in building the brand and will most likely be the first thing your audience will type into their address box if they do not know the website name off-hand. Keep in mind though, that short and simple is better in this specific instance rather than lengthy and informative. A short, simple, and sometimes catchy domain name will stick in the mind of your audience better and make them more inclined to visit your website on their spare time and become more informed on your organization.

If you run into an instance where your organization’s name is already occupied by another domain and you do not have the option to change your organization’s name, there are other options. Uniqueness is key in building a domain name and if your organization’s name is already taken, this is your chance to let your creativity shine. Brainstorming five or so keywords that best represent your organization’s mission and/or goals is where you can start. Use this list to pick out the strongest words and add prefixes and suffixes to them in order to create a descriptive, yet unique domain name that will strongly represent your nonprofit. When settling on a domain name that is separate of your organization’s name, it is vital to keep in mind other popular domain names that are already established and that your choice is not too similar in order to avoid confusion.

After you have an established domain name, you must ascertain an extension. As a nonprofit organization, the .org is recognized and trusted and is therefore will give your organization a greater reputation, as well as be a considerable factor in search engines. Do not settle though with just the .org and take the next initiative by acquiring the .com extension as well. People still default to .com when typing in a web address, so this will help them find you!

In choosing your domain name, there are several things you should not do. Leaving out hyphens, numbers, homophones, repeating letters and rejecting the latest trends are all important things to keep in my mind when naming your nonprofit organizations’ domain. Numbers, such as two and four, can cause confusion with the words “to” and “for” and potentially lead your audience to the wrong site. Repeat letters, i.e. a word ending with one letter and then the next word beginning with the same letter, can give opportunity for typos, once again potentially leading the audience to the incorrect site. In addition, following the latest trends may be beneficial for your organization today, but will not always be relevant and therefore does not make for a surefire strategy.

A domain name is one of many representations of your organizations and therefore should not be determined lightly. A domain name can be very impactful in the growth and success of your organization, which is what all nonprofits strive for. Remember that simplicity and conciseness are key, but creativity can never be doubted as well, as long as the name is relevant to your organization you can be certain that it will help your organization grow.