For some, a foundation's name should simply be descriptive. Others want the name to be more like a corporate brand, powerful and compelling. Some want to attach their family names to their foundations. This guide will help you find which route is best for your foundation.
How to Name a Foundation
A step-by-step guide to coming up with a memorable and compelling foundation name.
Start a list.
Write down any ideas you already have.
You may already have some ideas for a foundation name. If so, go ahead and write them down.
Highlight or star your favorites as you go.
This will make it easy to narrow down the list later, while letting you jot down all ideas that may spark something later on.
The words you add to the list don’t have to be fully formed foundation names. They can be single words or concepts related to what the foundation does.
Perform essential research before you name your foundation.
Revisit the mission.
Reconnecting with the mission of the foundation is a great source for words and concepts that can be used to come up with a good name.
Look at who the foundation is trying to help.
Whether your foundation helps children or foxes, knowing who or what you are trying to help will generate words and concepts you can use.
Talk to members.
This is something you’ll want to do, no matter what, to learn more about the people who are willing to join the cause.
Review words specific to the foundation.
Consider your family name.
Some warn against this but you might like the foundation to carry your family name. It is a great way to build a legacy and to create a family tradition of supporting that specific cause.
Reflect on the foundation's key actions.
Ask yourself: "What will my foundation do?"
Go for emotion.
A good name must evoke an emotion. What emotion do you want people to feel when they hear the name?
Brainstorm region-specific vocabulary.
Try city and state names and nicknames.
Cities and city nicknames can sometimes work well for a local foundation. For example, "Saving Brooklyn," or "The New York Children's Fund."
Consider your street name if you’ve got a location.
A street name can help people find your foundation, make naming easy, and connect it to a neighborhood or sense of place. For example, "Hope on 21st."
You'll want to be sure you'll be at this location for a long time. You don't want to call yourself "2nd St. Foundation for the Homeless" if you have to move to 3rd St. a few years later.
Review local landmarks.
Local landmarks can be another great way to tie your foundation to its location. For example, "Obsidian Cliff Research Foundation."
Create more name ideas from your list.
Combine words from the list.
Try combining various words from your list to see if they form any interesting names.
Think outside the box.
Names can hint to a cause in creative ways. For example, "The Robin Hood Foundation" gets money from the rich to give to the poor.
Metaphors are excellent for names. Think about the marine conservation organization "Sea Shepherd Conservation Society." The word "shepherd" suggests that the organization is a loving protector and guide.
Blend different words in your list.
Take two words and combine them in imaginative ways.
Use a name generator.
NameSnack can help combine your ideas and make associations that you wouldn't have thought of.
NameSnack's AI will prompt you to add different words. You can try adding them all, or go with smaller groups.
Write down any foundation names you like.
NameSnack will also tell you if the domains are available. Check the ones that have domains off on your list.
Review and reflect.
Read through your list again.
See if there are any others that stand out, and mark them.
Set the list aside for a day or two.
Come back with fresh eyes and see which names stand out. Also, see which names you still remember. This may give you a clue as to which ones are most memorable.
Get feedback on your top foundation names.
See what potential members and the public think of the names.
See how your target audience reacts to different names.
Run a social media campaign under a few of the names and see which of them gets the most engagement.
Test the names on friends and colleagues.
Read your names to friends and colleagues, and get their take on your foundation names. Come back a day or two later and see which ones they still remember.
See if the web domain name is available.
Use a site like Namecheap to see which of your top foundation name ideas have related URLs available.
See if the name is already in use in your state.
If the name is already in use for a similar business or foundation in your state, it's likely you won't be able to use it.
Check the names on Google.
Google your favorite foundation names to see if there are any other well-known organizations with the same name, or if there are some associations you hadn’t thought of.
Get the name.
Buy the domain name.
You can do this through sites like Namecheap.
Register the foundation name with the state.
You'll need to register the name in your state once you've chosen it. In most states this is fast and easy, and can be done online.
Consider trademarking the name.
This offers additional protection from other businesses using your foundation name.
Learn more about trademarking your business name.
How do you name your foundation?
- Start a list of ideas you have.
- Revisit your mission and vision, and talk with your members and partners.
- Consider your family name.
- Ask yourself where you are, what you do, and who you are trying to help.
- Combine and blend the words on your list in imaginative ways.
- Use a name generator.
- Get feedback on some of the names.
- Check if the name is available.
- Get the name.
How can I be sure my foundation name is good?
Check it with friends, family, and likely customers. Make sure it's easy to remember, say, and spell. A good name gives a sense of what makes your foundation special and important and evokes emotion.
Where can I find ideas for my foundation's name?
Think about what your foundation will be doing, who or what it will be helping, and who your members are. Try running the vocabulary you come up with through a business name generator like NameSnack.
How can I see if my foundation's name is taken?
Check with your state business name lookup and search for the name and close variants online.
How can I see if my foundation's URL is available?
Check Namecheap for the URL, or domain name, for your foundation. Consider close variations as well.