Creating your own website is becoming easier and more accessible everyday. We believe building a website is an important step for your nonprofit!
One of the simplest but most important aspects of a website is the domain name.
So, how do you choose a domain name? It’s simple! We will go over all the details of domain names and how to decide on the best option for your website.
We will answer these questions:
- What is a Domain Name?
- What is it Used For?
- How Do I Check the Availability of a Domain Name?
- How Much Does a Domain Name Cost?
- How Can I Reserve My Domain Name?
- What is Some Good Advice When Choosing a Domain Name?
What is a Domain Name?
A domain name is your unique address that will allow users to find and access your website. For example, our domain name at AssoConnect is assoconnect.org
The address of your website, called the “URL”, is structured like this:
Sub-domain (ex: www)
Domain name (ex: mynonprofit)
Extension (ex: .org, .edu, .com)
The domain name of your site is stored with a domain server. A domain server is the server that will provide storage space and make your website accessible. Some examples include Hostgator, Wix, GoDaddy, and AssoConnect.
What is the Domain Name Used For?
Many people have gotten into the habit of using search engines like Google to access a website instead of typing the website in themselves. For example, "Facebook" is one of the most searched keywords on Google.
This begs the question: Why would I pay something like $30 a year for my domain name to be "mynonprofit.org" rather than something much cheaper, that could look something like “www.abcd.xyz”?
While it is a valid question, a good domain name still goes a long way! It is important for three following reasons:
- The domain name is one of the top criteria for search engines to determine the referencing of your site. For example, if you want your website to show up when people search "clean water for Africa", your domain name should be related. This way, it will be much more likely to appear. For more info about optimizing your website for search engines, read this article.
- The domain name also guarantees the credibility of your site. A visitor expecting to land on the website of a nonprofit that provides clean water in Africa will probably not be reassured by a domain name such as ‘www.abcd.xyz’. It may seem untrustworthy, which can negatively affect your reputation.
- If you have business cards, posters, flyers, or anything else that you want to include your contact information on, you should add your website URL on it. It is much more professional and practical to have a reliable and understandable domain name for people to visit for more information.
Check the Availability of a Domain Name
Now that we know what it is and why it is important, it is time to check the availability of the domain name you want.
A good place to start is to simply type the domain name you want to use, for example, www.mynonprofit.org, into your search bar.
If it is not available, you can always try with a different extension. For example, maybe mynonprofit.org is taken, but mynonprofit.com is free.
You can also check out Google Domains to search available domain names! It will give you pricing, options, and even insights on advantages and considerations on the name you choose.
Unfortunately, sometimes the domain name you want is already taken. It is possible to buy an existing domain name, but it is more difficult.
By using Google Domains, you can find out who owns the domain name and try to contact them to offer to buy it. Sometimes, businesses have bought domain names that are no longer in use and are willing to sell them.
How Much Does a Domain Name Cost?
According to Hostgator, a domain name will usually cost $10-$12 a year, but prices can vary. For example, if you are planning on buying a domain name from someone else, it can get much more expensive.
We suggest you try your best to find a domain name that is not already being used. It will save you the hassle!
How Can I Reserve My Domain Name and be Hosted Online?
We suggest you do a bit of research to decide which hosting provider is the best fit for you. After you contact the provider you choose, voila! They will be able to guide you through the different steps.
With AssoConnect, you can choose your domain name or transfer an existing one, and it is all linked up to your AssoConnect platform. For more information regarding domain hosting, check out our article about Content Management Systems (CMS).
How to Choose the Right Domain Name for Your Nonprofit
Ideally, the domain name of your nonprofit's website should have the following characteristics:
1: Be Related to Your Nonprofit
We suggest that you opt for simplicity and efficiency. Your domain name should contain the name of your nonprofit, or at least be directly related to its activity.
It should also be concise! Something like "cleanwater.org" will be better than "nonprofit-providing-clean-water.org" because it will be simpler to type in and easier to remember.
2: Easy to Pronounce and Remember
Being memorable is an important strategy when it comes to choosing your domain name. If the name of your nonprofit is too long, maybe try and find an acronym that you and your members often use.
For example, the Public Broadcasting Fund uses the URL "www.pbs.org".
3: Leave Out Punctuation
Using punctuation can complicate your domain name. Underscores, dashes, hyphens, and other punctuation marks will make it harder to verbally communicate your URL and will be harder for a user to enter.
We suggest you keep it simple and avoid punctuation if possible!
4: Have a "Classic" Extension
Especially for nonprofits, it is better to stick to the traditional .org, or use the reliable .com. These URL addresses inspire more confidence with users.
The .org extension is the bread and butter for nonprofit organizations. It is usually used for non-commercial organizations, so even people who do not know about your organization will understand it is not a for-profit organization.
It is a great way to gain credibility right off the bat.
5: Have More than One Extension
It may be in your best interest to buy more than one extension attached to your domain name.
If you set up a redirect, someone who types the wrong extension will still be redirected to your page. For example if you have the .org and .com extension, the user will always end up on your page as long as the domain name is correct.
It is also a good way to ensure no other entities can use your domain name with a different extension.
We hope you now have some more insight on how to choose a domain name for your nonprofit. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions, and if any of our tips helped you!
Once you have established your domain you are ready to start the process of adding content to your website. Be sure to understand the purpose of your website and get some inspiration from the best nonprofit websites!
AssoConnect is trusted by over 15,000 nonprofits.
Try it free for 30 days!