Nonprofits count and rely on public support, that’s a fact. So, to grab attention and engage supporters, a nonprofit corporation should have an appropriate name for the start. What is this name? How to choose a corporate name when launching a nonprofit? How to come up with a relevant and functional nonprofit moniker? Keep on reading, and you’ll find out everything you should know about naming a nonprofit corporation. This type of business calls for a bit of a different approach. Does it look somewhat scary and off putting to you? We’ll help you out with that.
What’s in the Name?
As the business entity name suggests, nonprofits are created not for earning profit but for serving people and providing products or services for free. Exempt from paying federal and state taxes, nonprofits are open to donations and sponsor contributions to be able to help others. Nonprofits reinvest any funds they get back into their activity. Managers and members of nonprofit corporations receive neither wages nor dividends. They work rather as volunteers. Normally, nonprofits are charitable funds, religious organizations, educational centers, refuges, shelters, and alike.
To function and raise funds, nonprofits widely need public support and seek to create their own community that will help them in word and deed. With that, a company name means a lot for nonprofits. Any business name is a sort of sartorial statement or an identifier that makes a company recognizable in a competitive business environment. The more so for nonprofits. Committed to a specific mission, these organizations need a name that will reveal that mission and appeal to donators and supporters. Thus, a poor name can appear limiting and restricting in this concern. This is especially true for beginner nonprofits that only start their way and need maintenance much more than companies who have been long enough in the nonprofit business.
Picking a proper name for a nonprofit from the start is highly important since it will take you time and effort to familiarize everyone with your company and build your brand. So, it’s not reasonable to rush into naming your company with a random name and then have to change it at some point. Not only will renaming a nonprofit take you a legal hassle but also you’ll have to do a rebranding and launch a totally new marketing campaign to promote a new name. There are a few solid reasons for changing a nonprofit name, though. They are as follows:
- The current name doesn’t reflect your company mission anymore;
- The nonprofit name strongly resembles the name of any other organization from your industry, thus hindering your marketing endeavors and looking confusing to the public;
- The business name includes a name of a person who is no longer a member of your corporation;
- Your nonprofit name contains a reference to some social group, location, or service you don’t cover anymore.
Nonprofit Name Types to Consider
While creating a name for a nonprofit, you need to be pickier and more focused on what that name should declare. Though there is no one-size-fits-all plan for inventing a perfect name for any nonprofit since companies vary in structure, operation, activity type, and final mission, there are a few common approaches based on different nonprofit name types that you can use to guide your creation process.
- An informative or descriptive name. Describing what a nonprofit organization is meant for is one of the most common approaches to establishing a name for a nonprofit corporation. A Shelter for Homeless Women or Girls Choir of Brooklyn sounds clear and needs no further explanation. This type of nonprofit name often incorporates a geographic name, which is a reference to some district, county, city, area, or state. Yet, you need to be careful with geographic names since they are restricting in a way by binding your company activity to a certain locality;
- Individual’s name as a part of the company moniker. Following this approach, a company name is built around the name of its founder. Most often it’s a celebrity or some influencer well-known to the public. A popular name that has already become a buzzword is a strong marketing tool that will make an organization familiar to the public almost immediately. On the negative side, though, the same name could be a limiting factor over time in case there appear some “dark spots” in a founder’s reputation;
- Meaning is the core. Such names as GreenPeace, Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders are recognizable around the globe. What these names have in common is that they convey the meaning of the company’s activity. Though not saying it directly, they imply it, and each name is directly linked to the mission of the company it belongs to;
- Typical or generic names. Such names are normally built around some simple yet powerful words and phrases. Usually, they evoke some string associations or contain a call for action. On the negative side, though, these names might appear too common since many organizations use the same words. Besides, a typical name gives no idea about the company’s major missions and what the company is doing exactly;
- Original names. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, MercyCorps, all these names look fancy. And they are really unique since they were created by applying a smart approach. You can come up with a catchy and original name for your nonprofit by concocting two meaningful words or their parts in a fancy combination or by introducing foreign words, words with Latin roots, and by resorting to older historical meanings of some words. Using these approaches, the name will attract attention and might sound similar to powerful meaningful words, thus giving some suggestions about the company’s mission and objectives.
Tips on Creating a Name for Your Nonprofit
Even when you have clear business goals and a detailed business plan to achieve them, you might feel bewildered and frustrated when it comes to naming your future nonprofit corporation. Now that you know the approaches to nonprofit names and why a proper name is so important for this type of business entity, take a look at our quick naming tips that will help you come up with a really good moniker for your aspiring socially important venture:
- Before you start brainstorming, ask yourself a few simple questions. Those are “What do I do?”, “ Whom am I going to help?”, and “ Who will provide that help?”. These are the keystones of a socially-oriented organization that clarify your company’s mission, target groups of people to work with, and who’s engaged in the whole process. Depending on what you want to highlight, each of those aspects could give you a hint for a future company name and even become its part;
- Consider the main concept. Usually, a nonprofit organization is dedicated to some specific problem related to certain people, environment, social issues, etc. Think about what most matters for you and how it will resonate with the public;
- Use concrete and meaningful words. While originality might be the name of the game when naming commercial companies, nonprofits call for meaningful names. They have to make a statement and describe your mission. While unique and fancy names might easily grab attention and catch eyes, they need hefty marketing resources to become popular and recognizable. Given the purpose of a nonprofit, a more straightforward and clear name is preferable;
- Be specific. Avoid vague phrases and too generic words. Be specific to provide clear references to the area of your nonprofit activity;
- Lean toward simplicity. Easy to say and spell names are easier to remember. Avoid using technical and professional terms in your company name. Pick their simple and well-known synonyms instead. If your business name tends to be rather long, try to invent a version that will convert into a memorable acronym.
Overall, before jumping into any name option, consider your short-term and long-term business goals, outline your brand, set up your marketing strategy, and do some research to determine the right direction for your naming endeavors.