If you’re using self-hosted WordPress, you’ll need a domain and a webhost.
What They Are
A domain is like a signpost for internet browsers to your website. When someone enters your domain—like example.org—it tells the computer how to find the host for the website they want to visit.
Nonprofits most-often use the .org “Top Level Domain” (TLD), but you can technically use many other TLDs like .com or the new, only-for-nonprofits .ngo TLD.
A domain uses “Domain Name Servers” (DNS) settings to make those “signpost” directions and must be registered with a domain registrar who you pay for the right to own and use that domain. Your settings are stored on “nameservers”, and also contain the records that route email messages to your email service of choice.
Your host provides the server (a specially-configured computer connected to the web) that contains the actual files—like WordPress’s files and your site’s images—and databases—where WordPress stores your content—that make up your website. (For an overview of all the files WordPress uses, check out The Building Blocks of WordPress!)
Depending on how your website is set up initially, the DNS settings, registration, and hosting can be provided in any combination by 1, 2, or even 3 companies.
How Much Do They Cost?
You can find domains ending in .com or .org for $10-$12/year, though some very short or in-demand terms may be more expensive. The new .ngo domains are more expensive, going for $50/yr or more with some domain registrars.
Hosting varies in price much more, and, generally speaking, you get what you pay for. Entry-level “shared hosting” (where you and many people use the same server) can start at $4/mo ($48/year) but can be as high at $10/mo or $15/mo depending on the quality.
A relatively new type of “WordPress-optimized” hosting ranges in price from $7/mo to $25/mo or more.