Insights
3 min Read
March 16, 2010

That’s One URL of a Pickle

As you may have heard, yesterday was the 25th anniversary of the very first dot-com—Symbolics.com was number one, followed by Bbn.com and Think.com. We’re also just a few days removed from the 10th anniversary of the official dot-com bubble burst. Congratulations, dot-com. It’s been a big week for you.

Dot-org is a slightly different beast. Ten years ago, many nonprofits were still saying, “Gosh, we should really have a website.” Today, of course, a good website is just the beginning of what you need as part of your overall online communications strategy. If you bought the domain for your nonprofit anytime in the 1990s or early 2000s, you probably had no trouble getting exactly the URL you wanted in its dot-org form.

Alas, we’re getting to the point that many of the good URLs (along with all the good names perhaps) are taken. If you started a nonprofit, say, in Boston called the Coalition for Ordinary Kids’ Education, you might be surprised to learn that COKE.org redirects to coca-cola.com. Oh, those clever for-profits, gobbling up all the dot-orgs, too.

So let’s say you’ve incorporated your nonprofit, gotten your 501(c)3 status, and already built enough equity in your COKE name not to change it. (In my hypothetical world, Coca-Cola hasn’t sued your pants off.) What’s an org to do?

The first thing to consider is avoiding your acronym. At Big Duck, we tend to discourage the use of acronyms in general anyway, so maybe COKE should use the full name.

Hey, look! The full name web address, coalitionforordinarykidseducation.org, is available. And no wonder. It’s a terrible option.

Even with a shorter name, COKE could run into URL registration problems. Big Duck wasn’t even late to the website party, and yet someone else had already taken bigduck.com. And because the harpsichordist who owns the site is only interested in selling it to us for gobs of cash, we use bigducknyc.com instead. Easy enough.

Your Coalition for Ordinary Kids’ Education organization has a few options. If you’re really keen on your acronym, perhaps cokeboston.org would work.

You might also decide that a shortened version of your full name would work. OrdinaryKidsEd.org might be a good option. It also might position you as a leader in the educational space for ordinary kids. Well done.

(Perhaps you noticed that I threw some capital letters into that URL. Caps don’t make a lick of difference in the web address itself, but if you need to write it out on your marketing materials, sometimes the capital letters can help something read a little bit better.)

Maybe all of you at the Coalition for Ordinary Kids’ Education have a tagline you like: Get wicked smart. GetWickedSmart.org could well be your winning URL.

The point is, with a little creative thinking, you’ll have some good, strategically sound URL options available to you.

Once you’ve settled on a URL people are happy with, don’t forget to take a step back and look at it from another perspective. There’s an old Web Legend about a company called Powergen, which had an Italia office, resulting in a rather unfortunate web address when they shoved the two words together. Whether any of this is true, or if Powergen even had an Italia office, is a matter of some debate. And I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear that reliable information on the World Wide Web can be difficult to track down.

But fear not, nonprofiteers. Go forth and snag yourself a lovely dot-org with confidence.

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