Domain Names 101: Why They Matter for Nonprofits

By: Jason Faber, Product Marketing Manager at CIRA.

What is a domain name?


Often referred to as a “web address” or a “URL”, a domain name is the place where your website lives. Simply put, it’s what people type into a browser to arrive at your site.


Domain names make it easy for your audience to find you online. Think of them as the street addresses of the Internet - unlike longitude and latitude, a street address is easy to read and remember.


Let’s use our friends at TechSoup Canada as an example. Their domain name is Not only does the domain name define the location of TechSoup Canada’s website, but it also tells me what is at that location. As a user of the Internet, I know where I am going and what I’m going to get when I arrive.

What’s in a domain name?

Domain names are made up of two key pieces - a top-level domain and a second-level domain.


The top-level domain (TLD) is everything “to the right of the dot”. These are also referred to as “domain name extensions”. Popular top-level domains include .CA, .com, .org, .net, and many more.


The second-level domain (SLD) is the part that comes before the dot. Typically, this is the name of a company, brand, product, or set of relevant keywords.


In the example below, “TechSoupCanada” is the second-level domain, and .CA is the top-level domain. 



Why Domain Names Matter for Nonprofits

You shouldn’t look at domain names as an additional, unnecessary cost, but rather as an opportunity. Yes, domain names cost money - but they aren’t as expensive as you might think.


Our recent research shows the average Canadian Internet user believes that a domain name costs $131 per year, which is far higher than what the average .CA domain name actually costs. Over the last 6 months, .CA domain names were being sold by for an average of $14 per year, and sometimes can be as low as $1.99 per year.


So they aren’t that expensive after all. You may now be wondering: aren’t domain names for big businesses and corporations? Absolutely not. Domain names are for anybody who is looking to create an online presence - that includes you and your nonprofit. The Internet is an incredible place that allows us to openly share and collaborate on ideas and information. A great domain name is the perfect place for you to start, and here’s why:


Control & Build Your Brand Online

When you secure your own domain name, you ensure that you are owning, protecting, controlling and building your brand online. That’s because when you register a domain name, nobody else can have it; it’s uniquely yours! It not only strengthens your brand, but also makes it easier for people to find you online.


The most obvious choice for your domain name is the actual name of your nonprofit, charity or organization. Go find your nonprofit’s domain name now! If your desired domain name is already taken, try searching for variations by including relevant keywords, like your specific cause, sector, location, or services. When you’ve found one that suits your needs, go ahead and register it! As long as you renew it every year, no one else can have it.

Give Your Nonprofit Credibility

A good domain name gives you credibility, which is more important than ever in the nonprofit world. Unfortunately, there are a lot of spammers out there, and security has become a hot-button issue for potential donors and supporters. You need to ensure they feel they can trust your nonprofit, and a strong domain name can help solidify you as an established, credible, trusted organization online.


Would you donate money to a website with a long and confusing domain name, or one hosted on a foreign or unfamiliar domain? Probably not. Likewise, many nonprofits are still using free email tools like Gmail and Hotmail to send their communications. With your own domain name, you can host your emails on a professional and trusted email address, like Looks a lot more professional, credible and trusted than, right?


The bottom line is a domain name gives you credibility. It signals to Internet users that you are legitimate and invested in your nonprofit, and not just some fly-by-night organization looking for their money.


Connect with your Audience

Canadians spend a lot of time online. In fact, we spend more time online than any other country, and almost double the global average. If your nonprofit is trying to connect and engage with Canadians, you must be online. Hosting your website on a well-chosen domain name can help you get found online.


By including your brand and other relevant keywords in your domain name, you’re making it easier for people to find you in a search. And since the .CA domain signifies your organization is Canadian, your .CA domain name will have a better chance of ranking higher in a Canadian search.


Domain names are one of the most valuable assets a nonprofit can own. Not only will it give your organization more credibility, but it will help you build your brand and connect with your audience online.


Are you ready to register your domain name? Choose your .CA domain name today and brand yourself as uniquely Canadian!


About the Author

Jason Faber 
Product Marketing Manager (.CA) 
Canadian Internet Registration Authority

Jason Faber is the Product Marketing Manager for the .CA domain at CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority. In his role, Jason is responsible for developing and implementing comprehensive marketing plans and strategies to promote and strengthen the .CA brand. With deep experience in marketing, technology and digital strategy, Jason strives to engage and educate consumers to ensure that they get the most out of their .CA domain and overall web presence. Find out if your ideal .CA domain name is available and register it today. Connect with Jason at and on Twitter at @Jason_Faber

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