Working with lots of organisations moving away from using personal email accounts and setting up their first websites made us realise that not everyone knows the answer when we ask - Do you have your own domain?  So we've set ourselves the challenge to explain!


What is a Domain?

Every website is uniquely identified by a domain name, which is essentially the web address that you type into your browser. This name is split into two key parts: the Second-Level Domain (SLD) and the Top-Level Domain (TLD).  For instance, in the domain, 'amazon' is the SLD and is the name chosen by the user, and '.com' is the TLD, indicating the type of entity it represents.

There are various TLDs available, such as '' used by charities and community groups, '' for companies, '.charity' specifically for charitable organisations, and even '.london' for London-based entities. Our domain,, reflects that we are a charity and based in the UK.

To secure a domain, you must register it and pay an annual fee.  For example, a '' domain typically costs around £5.99 per annum and it is perfect for most charities, trusts and social enterprises in the UK.

It's important to note that domains are more like a rental; they're not owned outright, so remember to renew your domain to maintain your online presence.  Once you've registered your domain, it becomes the cornerstone of your digital identity, used for both your email and website, anchoring your online activities and communications. So, choose wisely and keep it active!


What is a good domain name?

Selecting the right domain name is a crucial step for any charity or community group looking to establish a strong online presence. It should be a mirror to your mission, embodying your core values and the impact you aim to make. It's the digital identity that connects you with your audience, so it needs to be memorable, easy to spell, and simple to pronounce, ensuring it sticks in people's minds.

Opt for a name that's unique and stands out, incorporating relevant keywords to boost your visibility. Stick to hyphens if you need to separate words, and steer clear of numbers or special characters that can confuse potential visitors e.g. when saying your website address out loud. Nominet is the official registry for UK domain names, offering a Whois feature you can use to search for domain availability. Lastly, think long-term; a domain that's flexible and can grow with your ambitions will serve you well into the future.


Registering a domain

There are multiple options available for domain registration.  Here are some providers to consider - all providing good control of your domain settings via a Control Panel.

Costs £0.99 for registration and £11.99 for the annual fee

Costs £1 for registration and £10 for the first year. (Note that discounts are often available for the first year, and costs may increase afterwards.)

Costs £5.99 for a domain name per annum. Can provide free email and website hosting for smaller organisations


Check payment options on offer - you may to prefer to pay by invoice, but some providers may only take credit card payments.

Depending on what your organisation does, it may be a good idea to consider registering more than one TLD to prevent others from using it e.g. and

Often you can opt for an email address and service at an additional cost. However, you can also move your email/domain to another provider later.  Some domain registration services also provide a basic website-building tool hosted on their platform.



One of the common problems we face is groups losing control or access to their domain.  Often they contact us in a panic as they think their website has disappeared, when really it's just that their domain hasn't been renewed.

  • Make sure someone from your charity or community group registers your domain - rather than e.g. someone who may be developing your website
  • Keep a record of the details and ensure other key organisation contacts can access. Specifically note:
    • Any email addresses you use during registration (e.g. main contact and billing addresses) and ensure these are secure and will remain available to you
    • Which provider you have registered your domain via
    • Who within your organisation registered it
    • Login details to the domain - usually via a Control Panel
    • Which credit card was used (and when this expires)
    • When it needs renewing


Linking a domain to your website / emails
  • Your domain provider will supply you with a Control Panel you can log into
  • This is where you can control and make changes to your domain (point to your website and email services)
  • You can point your domain at a website built using another platform
  • If you register for either the Google non-profit programme or Microsoft Office 365 charity donation programme – you can associate your registered domain with these platforms so you can e.g. send and receive email via their service but with your domain


Other jargon busting

You may also come across the following terms DNS (Domain Name System), IP addresses (Internet Protocol) & Nameservers

  • Think of the DNS as the phonebook of the Internet. We access information online through domain names, like ''
  • Web browsers interact through IP addresses. The DNS translates domain names to IP addresses so browsers can load Internet resources
  • Each device connected to the Internet has a unique IP address and DNS servers eliminate the need for us to remember and use IP addresses e.g.
  • Nameservers – this is the location where you control your DNS


Keeping track of your online assets

In addition to keeping details about your domain as above, do also keep a note of: 

  • Where are your nameservers?
    • This is where you control your website and email locations
    • Typically, these will site with your registrar, but can be moved to a hosting service (often by a web developer)  Be wary as sometimes this may disrupt accessing your emails if not changed correctly
  • Where is your website hosted? Do you have Login details documented?
  • Where is your email hosted? Do you have Login details documented?