In this article, you’ll find out what a domain name is composed of, why it’s important and how to pick the right one for your website.
Before getting stuck in, we should also mention that GoDaddy is available on the Charity Digital Exchange programme offering a bundle of useful tools for £21. This means you don’t have to stretch your budget too much.
What is a domain name?
A domain name, also known as a URL or web address, is where on the web your site lives. It’s made of two essential elements:
- A top-level domain: Put simply, everything on the right side of the dot. You’re likely to be familiar with many of these, including .co.uk and .org. They’re often referred to as domain name extension.
- A second-level domain: You guessed it, this is everything to the left of the dot. This should usually be the name of your charity.
To offer an example, for our donation programme’s website (www.charitydigitalexchange.org): Charity Digital Exchange is the second-level domain, and .org is our top-level domain. Both of these elements are essential to a web address, whereas subdomains (usually www.) are non-essential.
Why do I need a domain name?
Spending on a domain name is an investment for your charity. If your online presence is important to you (which it should be) a well-suited domain name is a great place to start for a number of reasons:
1. Cement your charity’s position online
When you purchase a domain name, it becomes yours for as long as you renew it. This gives your charity a home online that can’t be taken away (unless you don’t renew it!).
Your website should be the central point for your online presence, which is linked to any social media accounts, event sites or fundraising sites you run. As social media platforms come and go, your website will still be there!
2. Support your charity’s brand
You should aim for a domain that matches what your charity is most commonly referred to as, as this is what people will type to find you. For example, our registered name is Charity Charity Digital but our brand name is Charity Digital, which is what our domain is too.
3. Give more credibility to your charity
Credibility is vital for potential donors choosing whether to give or not. Part of this will be having a website that is fit for purpose, with the information donors want to find, and having a secure payments platform, but having a charity domain can help here too.
It can be a big help to select a top-level domain that showcases your charitable status – either .org or .org.uk (to show you operate in the UK).
4. Give credibility beyond your website
Purchasing a domain name for your charity is the first step to setting up a custom email address. This allows you to send from firstname.lastname@example.org rather than just email@example.com, for example (that’s not my email address FYI!).
It gives a sense of professionalism that’s important if you’re communicating with stakeholders – whether that’s beneficiaries or supporters, which goes beyond having a website set up. Eligible charities can access G-Suite for free or access discounts to Office 365 by registering through Charity Digital Exchange – both of which let you set up custom ‘from’ addresses – once you’ve got a domain name. You can register for Charity Digital Exchange here.
It also shows that you’re invested in your charity and makes you appear more stable. This is a good sign to donors who don’t want to risk giving money to an organisation whose stability they’re unsure about.
Looking for more info?
You can see the domain bundle that GoDaddy provide to charities here (you’ll have to login to access the donation). Here’s an overview of what’s included:
- What you get: Your own domain name, use of GoDaddy’s business-website builder (makes it easy to build simple websites) and search engine optimisation help (which is actually quite useful if you don’t have time to investigate SEO yourself).
- How much it costs: Charities can access the bundle through Charity Digital Exchange for £21.
- How do these services benefit my charity: Each of the services in the bundle aim to improve your online presence; making your site easier to find, professionally designed, more credible and more memorable.
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