Choosing Your Non Profit’s Name

One of the most important decisions you’ll ever make is your choice of organization name. A good name can create the perception of integrity, professionalism, or dependability. It could be your organization’s biggest asset. A poorly chosen name can discourage potential donors by making your organization appear farcical, or even offensive.


What’s in a name

If you haven’t thought of any names yet or the names you’ve come up with aren’t suitable, the first step is to relax – hardly anyone comes up with the perfect name straight away.

Take some time to play with concepts, ideas and words to find a name that fits your organization and its intended reach. Running ahead with a name that isn’t really appropriate will result in additional costs further down the track.

There are some handy tools to get you started:

  • A basic thesaurus or dictionary – This will give you endless options and allow you to gather words together to create potential names.
  • Free or low-cost naming programsThere are a number of computer programs that will calculate names for you on the basis of keywords you enter from a database of common words and phrases.

Draw up a list of words and names that appeal to you, as well as a list of words applicable to your organization. Try different words and combinations, then create a short list of potential names for your organization.

Make it memorable

Being creative can help your organization stand out, but its name also needs to be easy to spell and remember. If a potential donor types in your web address, it only takes one misspelled letter for a browser to declare they can’t find the server – or worse, take them to the site of another organization.

Think about how your name sounds when spoken and whether it’s easy to spell when searching for you online. Short, simple names are easier to remember for word-of-mouth referrals. Avoid texting-style abbreviations or slang unless you’re sure this will suit your target audience.

Using humor

You might be tempted to play on words or incorporate humor in your business name. Whether this works or not will depend on the nature and size of the organization, whether you need to portray a professional image, and what appeals to your target audience.

If you’re at all uncertain about the name:

  • Canvass the opinion of close friends
  • Run a poll
  • Get some professional advice from a marketing expert.

Invoke an image or positive connotation

This can be tricky but try to think of a name that invokes an image or a feeling, preferably related to what your organization offers. These names are both easier to recall and link a positive feeling.

Reference what you offer

Names that reference what you offer are also better for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Internet advertising. If someone’s searching for a product or service you provide and it’s part of your organization name, your results will be more prominent in search engine results. You’ll have a competitive advantage over organizations with more abstract names.

Testing the waters

Testing the waters is a good way to gauge responses before taking the plunge.

  • Ask family and friends to comment on the name – they might point out some issues.
  • Ask existing networks or a sample segment of your target audience for feedback.
  • Ask a marketing professional for advice before you make a final decision.

This is also a valuable way of generating a profile for your business that could result in future sales –once, of course, you decide upon your organization name.

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