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NY Times: Why It Was Worth $49,000 to Become Brooklyn Org

In the News

James Barron

Published in: The New York Times’ “New York Today” Newsletter

Good morning. It’s Tuesday. What’s in a name? We’ll find out about a Brooklyn nonprofit that rebranded itself after buying a model URL. We’ll also meet the cousins behind one of the state’s first licensed marijuana dispensaries.

The Brooklyn Community Foundation says it has channeled $12.2 million to other nonprofits in the borough this year, the most in its 15-year history. It has also changed its name after spending $49,000 on a new web address —

“I definitely think that was money well spent,” said Jocelynne Rainey, the president and chief executive of the Brooklyn-centric group, now known as Brooklyn Org. “We decided to purchase because we believe we are so deeply Brooklyn that we wanted our URL to be Brooklyn.”

It’s a 21st-century answer to “What’s in a name?” is shorter and simpler than the group’s previous URL, Brevity and zip count online, and Brooklyn Org is betting that the new address will find more eyeballs.

Rainey said that the changes were also about “removing that word ‘foundation,’ because of what people believe a foundation is,” which she said Brooklyn Org is not — and was not under its prior name.

“We are not a top-down philanthropy or foundation that makes decisions on what we believe Brooklynites need,” Rainey said. “We make decisions based on what Brooklynites tell us are the needs in their communities.”

That is a challenge, even though, Rainey said, “there is so much more wealth in Brooklyn” now compared with what there was a few years ago. Brooklyn Org raised $1 million at its gala on Oct. 12.

Rainey, who said that Brooklyn Org was “unapologetically Brooklyn,” has long maintained that Brooklyn nonprofits are too often overlooked in the larger picture of New York. Brooklyn is home to just under 30 percent of the nonprofits in the city, but receives only 7.6 percent of the charitable funding distributed annually. In January, Brooklyn Org gave $100,000 grants to five nonprofits as winners of its annual Spark Prize. The recipients included the Workers Justice Project, which had campaigned for higher wages and better conditions for delivery workers.

“What we’re trying to do is cast a wider net,” she said, reaching to communities like Bay Ridge and Cypress Hills that have both needs and potential donors. Brooklyn had the city’s second-highest poverty rate, at nearly 18 percent, according to a report by the state comptroller’s office in December 2022, behind the Bronx (almost 25 percent) and ahead of Manhattan (16 percent), Staten Island (nearly 11 percent) and Queens (10 percent).

The new name “is just us saying we are a Brooklyn organization,” Rainey said. “I don’t know that every Brooklyn resident saw the foundation as something they could get involved in.”

“If you walk out your door and you say, ‘Oh, my gosh, there’s an issue with sanitation,’ then you would think, ‘I’m going to call Brooklyn Org and see who in my community does that kind of work, and can I support and how can I support them,’” she said. “We want people to think of us as a resource.”

She said people could call 311, the city’s help line, “but we know nonprofits in Brooklyn. There are nonprofits in Brooklyn that are doing that work.”

She said that Brooklyn Org was looking to support nonprofits “that are not yet at a level where we can give them grants but what we can do is give them capacity-building support, help them to identify board members, support their events.”

Rainey said the group secured its new domain name after a colleague noticed that was available; a spokesman for Brooklyn Org said a domain broker had claimed the URL and wanted to sell it for $60,000. The foundation negotiated a reduction of $11,000.