Naming Your Nonprofit

Naming Your Nonprofit

April 7, 2015 Lynette Garet Business Basics 0 Comment

5 Tips on Choosing the Perfect Name to Brand Your New Nonprofit

The name of your new nonprofit is a huge decision and where your brand begins. After all, the name of your organization is the first thing that people will hear or see, and first impressions mean everything. This is not a choice to rush into, and weight must be given to several important factors prior to making the full commitment. Here are five tips to help you create and choose the right name for your nonprofit organization.

The first step for any successful creative endeavor is to have a lengthy brainstorming session. Write down everything and anything that pops into your head as you consider your organization’s mission, values and vision. Nothing is bad at this point – record it all, and keep a notebook with you for about a week to give yourself plenty of time to jot down any inspiration that comes to you in the middle of the night, or while out running errands. You never know when genius may hit.

Think strategically.

Once you have a decent list from your brainstorming session, make another list: this one detailing the strategic criteria that your name should cover. Some areas to consider:

  • Meaning: Your name must reflect your mission and values as an organization.
  • Singularity: The name you choose must not be taken by any other business, nonprofit or brand. A quick internet search will help you narrow your field.
  • Growth potential: Your name needs to be able to grow with your organization without pigeonholing you.

Narrow down the field.

Take your big brainstorming list and, with the above points in mind, begin to narrow down your choices. Throw out anything too cutesy or with strange spellings (a Z in place of an S, for example), and work toward a shortlist of between five to 10 names. Run these by possible board members or others involved, and shorten the list further if possible.

Make a decision – but sit with each possibility first.

When you finally short-list your options to just a few, live with each for a few days as though this is the name you’ll be moving forward with. Practice using the name in conversation, in written correspondence and maybe even mock up a logo using the different names. This test run should be just the thing to help you settle on your final moniker.

Check online.

Once you’ve settled on the perfect name, do one final check that any domains online you’ll require are, in fact, available. You’ll want to be sure that your nonprofit’s entire name is open and purchase the domain, plus any associated names, before you do anything else. Creating a website domain for your organization up-front will also secure you trademark ownership, without having to formally register as well. Also be sure that the name is absolutely unique to your group; no one should be using it in any other form, profession, nonprofit or otherwise.

The name you choose will be with your nonprofit for, hopefully, many years to come. While it’s important to trust your gut with what just feels right, it’s equally as important to cover all your bases to be sure you’re making a smart decision. A good nonprofit starts with a good name, and with the correct choice you’ll be off on the right foot and ready to tackle your mission.

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