How to Choose a Name for Your Political Action Committee
Having a strong name can help your PAC stand out from the crowd, giving you an immediate, built-in advantage.
So, you’ve decided to start a political action committee and change the world. Outstanding! Stepping forward as a leader is a crucial first step.
Now comes the work of doing, and Priority #1 is choosing a strong and memorable name for your new organization. A political action committee is not unlike a business, and choosing the right name can be the difference between success and failure.
(Note: If you’re a billionaire who’s trying to spend an overwhelming amount of money through a benign and generic sounding SuperPAC, this article is not for you.)
Below, we’ll share a few tips for how to choose a name that’s strong, memorable, and — dare I say it? — fun. (Yes, politics can be fun.) Let’s start.
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Table of Contents
Tips For Choosing a Strong Name
- Keep It Short
- Think Outside the Box
- Consider Social Media Usernames
- Choose a Memorable Domain Name
- Make Sure It’s Not Taken
1. Keep It Short
Lots of the establishment political committees have long, boring names (e.g., The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee). But don’t be fooled. Names like this are bad and will cause you trouble in the long term. They’re forgettable and easily mixed up.
Instead, you want a short, easily remembered name that conveys the heart of your mission and your message. But finding one can be challenging, especially when traditional PAC names conventions have become the punchline of inside-the-beltway jokes.
Here are a few ways to get your gears turning:
- Focus on “Action Words:” Traditionally, PAC names have been descriptive nouns laced with platitudes (e.g., Citizens for a Brighter Tomorrow). To get a different, punchier vibe, focus on verbs instead (e.g., Swing Left).
- Create New Words: Think about the most memorable consumer brands and tech companies. Often, they just made up a new word that sounded vaguely like what they wanted you to feel. Surprising as it may seem, it can work.
- Choose an Insider Term: Are there specific words or phrases that have meaning to your community, but not to the larger world? That might make a great name. For example, MoveOn.org got their name because they just wanted to “move on” from the Bill Clinton impeachment scandal. But the name lived on even after that moment passed.
2. Think Outside the Box
Right out of the gate, you should write down a list of the names of 5–10 organizations operating in a similar space that you hope to occupy. These organizations can be in your ideological lane, or not. What’s important is that you’d consider them comparable in mission and focus.
Then, try to identify similarities between these organizations’ names. What do they have in common? Are there any unifying themes? Etc.
Try to come up with a name that feels authentic to you, but does not fit in the same schema as these other organizations. You have to be different to stand out.
3. Consider Social Media Usernames
Once you’ve come up with a list of potential names, it’s time to go shopping for usernames.
It does little good to invest in a robust and memorable brand name if you won’t also have memorable social media URLs.
Services like Namechk allow you quickly check for available usernames across a range of social media services.
If your dream name is taken across the social web, you should probably consider another option.
4. Choose a Memorable Domain Name
By now, you’ve chosen a name for your organization and identified that your ideal usernames are available. Your next step is to make certain that you’re able to get a memorable domain name.
.com you were hoping for is unavailable, that’s no reason to give up. There are other options!
Use an Alternative TLD: The reason that everyone defaults to
.comis that it’s the most widely known. But there are lots of TLDs to choose from, and it’s likely you’ll find one that works well for you. (Notice that this website is hosted at a
.digitalTLD, even though we own the
.net, as well.)
Get Creative: You may still be able to secure a .com if you add a modifier to your domain name. For example, if
mypac.comis unavailable, you might try
TLDs to Consider:
- other country-specific TLDs.
Modifiers to Consider:
I recommend using Google Domains to purchase your domain.
5. Make Sure That It’s Not Taken
As a final step, before you officially register your PAC with the Federal Election Committee (or relevant state agency), you’ll want to be sure that the name isn’t taken. The easiest way to do that is to visit fec.gov/search and search for it.
This is probably also a good time to mention that before you file your PAC with the relevant government agency, you should probably engage a qualified attorney to help handle all of the compliance work.
Nothing in this article should be construed to be legal advice, and you should absolutely confer with a qualified attorney to make sure your Statement of Organization is compliant and that your PAC’s name is legal.
Examples of Great PAC Names
- Swing Left
- End Citizens United
- Committee to Defend the President
- Need to Impeach
- Progressive Turnout Project
- National Democratic Training Committee
- Ditch Fund (Ditch Mitch)
1. Swing Left
Swing Left was founded with a single goal in mind: flip, or “swing,” the House of Representatives from Republican to Democratic control. Their name is evocative, and its meaning has evolved along with its mission. When you hear “Swing Left,” it’s immediately clear who they are and what they’re doing. That’s exceptional branding.
Founded in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which permitted unlimited sums of money to be spent on federal elections through new independent expenditure-only committees, End Citizens United’s mission is clear: reverse the decision, and restore limits on election spending.
The Committee to Defend the President took its name in the wake of President Trump’s 2016 election and is among the largest independent expenditure committees devoted to defending his agenda and securing his re-election. Their fundraising pitches write themselves: with a name like that, donors have no doubt about their mission or whose side they’re on.
Billionaire Tom Steyer founded Need to Impeach in order to make the case that, well, we “need to impeach” President Trump. Like End Citizens United, the organization’s name doubles as a slogan/messaging tool. You literally cannot discuss the organization without accidentally repeating its core message. It’s brilliant branding.
ActBlue is a political action committee that works as the default payment processor for Democratic campaign contributions. But as their name implies, their mission is larger than just providing payment processing software: they exist to encourage and empower Democratic grassroots voters to take action in support of “blue” (Democratic) candidates.
Founded in 2019, WinRed is the Republican establishment’s response to ActBlue: a universal payment processing platform to harness and amplify the small-dollar fundraising power of the Republican grassroots. But WinRed, in contrast to ActBlue, is not philosophically about encouraging organic grassroots action as it is about helping Republicans win — and their chosen name clearly communicates those values.
The Progressive Turnout Project is an independent expenditure effort designed to encourage Democratic grassroots activism and increase left-wing voter turnout. You probably guessed that from their name, which is essentially a distilled mission statement.
Remember how, at the start of this article, I said to avoid long, wordy, establishment-sounding names? This is an exception because the name clearly states the organization’s focus, alignment, and mission: to provide free campaign training to every Democrat everywhere.
When MoveOn first launched in the late 1990s, its name was a direct reference to its message: that it was time to “move on” from the Clinton scandal and get back to the work of governing. 21 years later, its name still resonates because it’s short, memorable, and doubles as the domain name.
The Ditch Fund — or, as most people know it, “Ditch Mitch” — is a PAC solely dedicated to defeating Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his bid for re-election. Both Democrats and Republicans refer to the senator as “Mitch,” so the phrasing of “Ditch Mitch” has both an immediate clarity and a sort of fun rhythm to it. It’s punchy, clear, and a call-to-action.
What’s in a Name?
Choosing the right name for your political action committee can seem like a big job, and it is. Take it seriously! Your organization’s official name will appear on every piece of communication you create or publish: on every webpage, on every advertisement, and on every fundraising solicitation. If at all possible, try to make it clear, fun, and memorable.