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Nonprofit Domain Names

  • Web Sites need a good domain name

  • Register new or buy an existing domain

Nonprofit organizations need a good domain name to establish a presence on the Internet as much as any for-profit business. While people often use search engines like Google to find information on the Web, most marketing by nonprofits is still conducted offline. By simply including in that material an invitation to learn more about the organization through a memorable domain name, people can take action going online to support your charitable cause.

What is a domain name?
A domain name is a series of letters, numbers or both that directs a visitor to your Web site. Generally, the easier your domain name is to remember and associate with your charity, the more likely it is someone will find the information they need about your nonprofit. An easy to remember domain name is one that consumers associate with your organization because it matches a name by which you are known, a service you provide, or is descriptive of your charitable mission.

As a nonprofit, should the domain name be a .org, .com or what?
Many nonprofit organizations are found at the .org tld (top level domain). While this was the initial intention for an orderly Internet, today anyone can register a dot org domain name. Other top level domains include .com, .net, .info and .biz in addition to many country codes (for example: .de = Germany, .fr = France, .uk = United Kingdom and .us = United States). One issue with the dot org registry is that many people, and Americans in particular, have been conditioned to use dot com (.com) when typing a web address and often do so accidentally. There is no reason, other than cost or availability, that a nonprofit canít use a dot com name either with or without having registered the corresponding dot org. Some are choosing other extensions like .info or .us - for the United States - as it is difficult to find the exact domain name you need due to the high number of current registrations in the dot com and dot org registries.

What does a domain name cost?
A domain name can cost as little as $10 or so to register new although almost all easy to remember and relevant domain names already have been registered. Many good domain names, however, can be obtained from domain resellers on a secondary market but not for $10. Often good domain names sell for premium prices but can be worth it for the value it brings to an organization. Nonprofits will spend an enormous amount of money on a single mailing or advertisement to achieve a low response rate compared to how little they would consider paying for a premium domain name with long-term value. Good domain names in the .org tld can be obtained for $500 to $5,000 but the price of some dot org domain names can reach much higher. As the Internet increasingly is used for outreach, advocacy and fundraising, nonprofit organizations will begin to realize the value of an easy to remember domain name.

Why is a memorable domain name valuable to a nonprofit organization?
There are several reasons.

  • When advertised, an easy to remember domain name helps people find your Web site which is an inexpensive way to offer in-depth information, automated donation services, volunteer recruitment and more.
     

  • An easy to remember domain that is relevant to the organizationís name or mission provides a level of instant credibility and professionalism.
     

  • Every time you send email, you market your brand or service.

How do I register a new domain name or buy an existing one?
It is easy to register a new domain name. Most domain registration Web sites have a search function that will allow you to try all sorts of word, letter and number combinations to find a domain name that is available for registration. Some include additional services like a free or low-cost Web site builder that can help an organization create a basic Web site without needing special skills. If you can type and click a mouse, you can create a Web site with these programs. A domain name registrar called Enom has a good selection of services that are offered free or at low cost with domain name registrations. There are many resellers of Enomís services that charge just $10 to $15 dollars for domain names.

How do I buy or make an offer on a domain name someone has already registered?
To buy an existing domain name can be a challenge. There are online marketplaces including Sedo.com or Afternic.com with searchable databases of domains for sale. Some domains are priced, others are listed for offers, and each site has a system for making an anonymous offer for a domain name. Another way to purchase a domain name that is already registered is to contact the domain registrant directly to make an offer. If the domain is being used, it is unlikely it will be for sale. If it is not being used, a decent offer may produce a sale. You can find the contact information for a registrant by checking through a process called a whois search. Simply enter a domain name and a record of registration information will be provided.

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