I would encourage every business owner, non-profit organization, individual, or any other domain name owner to renew the domain names they use indefinitely. Whether a domain name was used for a commercial website, private information sharing website, or even if it was simply used as a placeholder, it will almost certainly be bought by someone after it expires.
Every day, I scan the list of domain names coming up for auction as pre-release and pending delete. There are a ton of domain names that get auctioned that seem to have no generic meaning. NameJet, GoDaddy Auctions, DropCatch.com, and other expired domain name auction venues seem to sell hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of domain names each day that had been used in the past. Some domain names are bought because the buyer wants to build a business, others are bought for investments, and others are bought to either monetize with advertising or monetize by using for SEO value. I would imagine that nearly every domain name that has been used will be bought by someone else after it expires.
The cost of a domain name renewal is very small. Most domain registrars sell their domain names for less than $15/year. This is a small amount of money when compared to the potential issues a dropped domain name could cause.
Once a domain name expires and is bought by a third party, there is little the former owner can (and should be able to) do. The renewal fee is mandatory, and if it isn’t paid, someone else can buy the domain name. When someone else owns a domain name, they can pretty much do whatever they want with it, as long as it isn’t infringing on another entity’s intellectual property.
I read too many articles about businesses and organizations who lose control of domain names and those domain names are used by others in a way that may cause reputational harm on the former owner. Many times, this happens by accident – forgotten renewals or changed email addresses lead to expired domain names.
There are businesses and people who willingly drop domain names they no longer need to avoid paying the renewal fee. This advice is for those people: don’t drop your previously used domain names! The downside is far greater than the $15 annual renewal fee. Suck it up and renew your names! Nine times out of ten, nothing “bad” will happen if the domain name is dropped. Someone may park the domain name or use it for SEO forwarding. It’s the one in ten that can cause reputational harm or worse.
With the cost of domain name registration so inexpensive, it makes no sense to me to let previously used domain names expire and available to virtually anyone.