Curious about the best process to select a name for your new entity? Whether you’re starting a nonprofit or a commercial venture, the challenges and principles of naming your organization are fundamental. The idea is to keep this process short and sweet because while naming is important, you can’t let it get in the way of projecting your vision into reality.
You’re starting a nonprofit because you want to give back to the world – and the best way to honor those people that you need to reach with your organization’s message, is by putting enough thought into your group’s name. You can do that by using the following principles to name your organization. There are four separate steps to take in naming your organization.
(NOTE: This is Item #1 of our 13-Point Nonprofit Startup Checklist PDF; If you don’t have a copy yet, get one here.)
Step 1: Generating names – the “brain dump”. This is simple: Don’t think about it, don’t call your Aunt Gertrude for advice – just get a pen and a legal pad and start writing. Don’t limit yourself. There are no good or bad ideas – just write.
Step 2: Refine your list. Next, you’ll refine your list using my five core naming principles:
Once you apply those five principles, you should have a nice short list of names to move on to step three.
Step 3: The”Poor man’s” focus group. What you’re going to do in this step is simply write down a brief list of friends, family and other local business people or trusted advisers and ask them to say the first thing that comes to mind as they hear the list of names you slowly read off of your list.
Don’t defend, just take notes and listen.When they’ve said their piece, ask questions and listen some more.
Then, go sleep on the results and we promise, you’ll gain insights and ideas that will help you – some of which may have nothing to do with naming your nonprofit organization.
Step 4: Conflict Search. While there’s generally no need at this stage to hire a trademark attorney, it’s advised you determine availability of the names that you’ve got that are kind of in your final list list. While we don’t purport to be lawyers (and do not give legal advice) you likely won’t run into an infringement issue if you are not doing the a similar type of of business under a similar name in the same geography. There are three ways you can search for overlapping name issues;
So let’s recap what we’ve covered here in the process of naming your nonprofit. We covered name generation, refining your list, focus grouping and name search and name availability checking. Those are the four steps for naming your nonprofit. Now you’re ready to make a solid selection for a name and move on confidently through the process of getting your nonprofit launched and into reality.
Here are the next steps if you’re following my format to create your nonprofit in five days. Number 1, just today here we covered naming. The next day, day 2 covers filing your entity at your secretary of state filing service. Day 3 will be your beginning board of directors. On day 4, you’ll get your EIN number and your bank account. Then on day 5 you’ll develop your elevator pitch, which is just the most concise way of describing what it is that your organization does and why it’s important.
BONUS: YOUR ONE-SENTENCE NONPROFIT MISSION STATEMENT
Independent of deciding on what to name your new new nonprofit organization, there’s nothing so powerful as equipping you and your founding fans with this “One-Sentence Mission Statement Formula” – also knows as your “Instant Impact” Statement.
You’re excited about your new venture, so it’s tempting to rattle on and on to anyone who will listen – but this serves neither you nor the listener. Instead, this simple tactic below turns the dynamic around, so that anyone who is remotely interested can’t help but say, “Wow, that’s pretty amazing. How do you do that?” Now you’ve earned interest, trust, and the right to tell them a little more.
When given the opportunity to tell a person or group about your organization for the first time, you say:
“We help ___________________ (the community you serve) by providing __________________(your nonprofit’s general activity or service) so they experience __________________(the result you aim to achieve).”
Want to go big and cast the vision about why this is important? Just add, “…so that __________ (describe how the world will look different)”.
Articulate with clarity, while creating intrigue and attraction to your cause with this PROVEN formula. Try it out now!
These secret weapons help you package your mission in a way that’s irresistible to anyone who might be interested in promoting or supporting your organization (or knows someone who can). It’s like a magnet.