5 Steps to Choosing a Domain Name that Drives Website Traffic

When it comes to raising money, many nonprofit organizations stick primarily to print and one-on-one marketing. However, advances in technology have brought on a changing of the times. The internet has expanded rapidly, and 82% of donors today first check an organization’s website before making a charitable gift.

If your nonprofit organization (NPO) doesn’t have a website, it can be difficult to demonstrate credibility and gain donors’ trust. The first step in building a profitable website for your cause is choosing an impactful domain name that represents your brand and mission.

So, what is a domain name? A domain name is a website title or online address made up of a series of letters or numbers, which directs visitors to your organization’s website, such as firespring.org. Registering a domain is easy to do and cost effective in helping establish your NPO as a credible and worthwhile cause online.

Interested? Check out these five steps to choosing a domain name for your nonprofit organization that will drive website traffic and potentially boost donations to your nonprofit.

1. Keep it simple.

When choosing a name for your nonprofit domain, keep it as simple as possible. You want something easy to say and remember for potential constituents. Most brands and NPOs alike generally choose the name of their organization, but if you have an exceptionally long or intricate name, you may want to simplify it for your domain name. For example, the American Cancer Society’s domain address is cancer.org. That’s much shorter and easier to remember than americancancersociety.org.

Volunteers and donors should be able to look at your domain and associate it with your organization’s name, service and/or mission. An easy-to-remember domain name (sometimes referred to as a URL) helps people find your website and demonstrates a level of reliability and professionalism.

2. Avoid repeat letters.

Your domain name should not only be simple, but should avoid repeating letters at the beginning and end of words. For example, an NPO titled “Nonprofit Today” wouldn’t want nonprofittoday.org as their website domain. Repeating letters such as the “t” confuses visitors looking for your site. These small details are hard to remember for constituents and bog your brand down in minuteness.

Instead of nonprofittoday.org, the organization could instead choose something similar, catchy and easier to recall, such as todaysnonprofit.org or nonprofitoftoday.org. Stay focused on the brand name and mission, while making the domain name as simple as possible for visitors.

3. Steer clear of numbers.

Numbers in a domain name create a confusing experience for viewers visiting your website. The question always remains: Is the number spelled out or in numerical form? For numbers like two or four this gets especially complicated. 2? Two? Too? To? Do your best to avoid numbers entirely in your domain name and keep it simple for website visitors.

For example, instead of a domain name like nonprofit4you.org, try yournonprofit.org. No numbers means less uncertainty and more traffic for your site.

4. Choose a domain extension.

Now comes the challenging part: the domain extension. Should you choose .org? .com? .net? Since its creation, .org remains the most trusted and credible domain extension for nonprofits. In fact, most NPOs utilize .org sites making up 4.5% of all websites. However, other domain extensions can make sense for your organization as well.

Many Americans are conditioned to use the .com extension (used by 49.1% of all websites) out of habit when searching for a site online. As a nonprofit, you have the ability to register with either and, if possible, you could even register with both or multiple domain extensions.

Registering multiple domain addresses under the same name and linking (or redirecting) back to the same website ensures your organization has a secure web presence. No matter how people search for your NPO, they will go to the right site. Search different domain extensions and decide whether or not registering multiple works for your organization.

Other extensions worth researching are .ngo and .ong. These stand for “non-governmental organization” in English and romance languages such as Spanish or French. Launched in May 2015 by the Public Interest Registry, these extensions work similarly to .edu or .gov.

Unlike .org, .ngo and .ong extensions are solely for legally recognized nonprofit organizations. While any enterprise (charitable or not) may register as .org, only organizations approved as a valid nonprofit group can register as .ngo. These domain extensions communicate your organization’s credibility, trustworthiness and legality, and are worth considering when choosing a website domain name. For more information on .ngo and .ong domain extensions, check out the Public Interest Registry’s reasoning.

And now, ICANN, the nonprofit managing the release of new generic top-level domains, provides a few more options for your consideration:

  • .academy
  • .camp
  • .clinic
  • .club
  • .college
  • .community
  • .coop
  • .faith
  • .gallery
  • .healthcare
  • .help
  • .hiv
  • .institute
  • .lgbt
  • .museum
  • .organic
  • .rehab
  • .school
  • .science
  • .support
  • .theater
  • .training
  • .university
  • .world

5. Register your web presence.

Once you’ve generated multiple possible domain names for your organization, begin the registration process. Domain names vary in price, depending upon the extension used and name availability. When researching costs and availability, remember investing in your web presence will only strengthen your organization’s website, therefore increasing lead generation, volunteer base and donor engagement.

You may want to check out different domain name registration sites such as RegisterGoDaddy or Public Interest Registry. Or, keep it simple and work with Firespring, who will handle your entire website and domain name registration for you.

When building your nonprofit organizational site, a domain name integrates into creating a strong internet presence. Stay ahead of the game with know-how by following these five easy steps for choosing a domain name which drives engagement and traffic to your site. By hosting a secure website, your organization will raise awareness and grow your cause online.

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