The Importance of Domain Name Selection for Non-Profits
A well-designed, user-friendly website is an important part of marketing and fundraising for your nonprofit organization. Whether your campaigns take place online, offline or a blend of both, donors often check out an organization’s website before making a gift.
Along with having a website that is clean, uncluttered and easy to navigate, you should have an URL that matches your brand. Putting some thought into your domain name—even thinking beyond .com or .org—can help you look polished and digitally savvy and even raise more money.
Your domain name tells the world who you are and what you do
There are millions of nonprofit organizations out there, most doing very meaningful work. If you want to stand out to your potential donor base, have a website name that is simple, straightforward and easy to remember.
Ask yourself a few questions before you register your domain. Is it easy to pronounce? Easy to spell? Does it render well in print advertising or on business cards? Or will your long and complicated domain name make you look like you are late to the party, or worse, yet, fly-by-night? All of those things matter when you’re choosing a domain name.
Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta use www.BornThisWay.foundation for their nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering teens and inspiring bravery. The name is easy to say, write and remember without any hyphens, misspellings or extra numbers. As an added bonus, the URL is the organization’s full name—it doesn’t get easier than that.
If you borrow a page from Gaga’s book and use one of the hundreds of newer domain name extensions now available, you can be creative—use a .foundation, .agency, or .services domain name extension to tell people exactly who you are and what you do.
Greyhound Pets of America Indianapolis is a chapter of Greyhound Pets of America, a national non-profit organization. Its hyper-specific website, www.GreyhoundsofIndy.dog leaves little to the imagination, including its name, mission, and location in its URL. The same is true of the Delaware rescue group, www.PawsofTomorrow.dog.
The Innovative Finance Foundation (IFF) uses www.if.foundation for its network dedicated to funding sustainable development and ending extreme poverty. With a domain name that is short, simple and straight to the point, the IFF has been able to undertake research, advisory activities, design, and campaigns to create innovative finance products to fund health, education, nutrition, sanitation and the environment.
Your domain name is free advertising for your organization
Your domain name is a digital front door. And if your marketing budget is limited, a creative domain name can serve as free advertising for your organization. In addition to some of the more generic choices like .group or .life, some organizations are using very specific domain names that address what they do or what they serve.
“In many cases, your domain name is your first impression. It’s your ‘calling card’,” said Kim Livengood, the owner of a public relations firm using the name www.TheEclipse.agency. “As they say, you don’t have a second chance to make a first impression.”
Internationally, organizations are grabbing up creative domain names to help stand out from the online noise.
AlterNatives develops markets for the products created by women widowed by political violence in Guatemala. They use www.AlterNatives.boutique to sell their goods, and the proceeds support charitable causes. The organization’s .boutique domain name tells people what they can do on the website—shop. It’s a clear call to action, no advertisement required.
In Costa Rica, The Jaguar Rescue Center uses www.JaguarRescue.foundation as the online hub for its center that helps for ill, injured and orphaned wildlife animals.
Your domain name helps people find you
Another organization that uses their domain name to make a strong first impression is Life.Church, an online church that meets in locations around the United States and globally online.
The church’s embrace of technology can be seen clearly in all of its online and offline marketing initiatives, including its new name and website, www.Life.Church, a change made in October 2014 to align the organization’s online and offline presence. In fact, if you Google “online church” you’ll find Life.Church in the #1 spot on the first page of search results.
According to Bobby Gruenewald, the church’s Innovation Leader, the .church website enables them to present a unified front when communicating with parishioners and potential members, immediately making their mission clear to anyone who encountered them online.
“The name has really helped provide consistent messaging,” Gruenewald said. “We’re placed here, in this moment of history, to take advantage of all the technology tools available today. What we do is authentic to who we are.”
If your organization is thinking about refreshing its digital presence, now may be the time to consider what a new domain name extension may bring to the table.
Maris Callahan is the director of public relations for Donuts Inc. and name.kitchen, where she does media relations, content marketing, and social media. She lives in Chicago with Brad, her significant other, and their chihuahua Henry. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.