AOL Offers Goodmail Service to Nonprofits

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After nonprofit and advocacy groups including MoveOn.org protested AOL's decision to use of Goodmail CertifiedEmail last week, arguing that it gives preferential treatment to those who can afford it, AOL now says other third party email accreditation services will be offered to nonprofits for free. In addition, nonprofits can still choose to use CertifiedEmail at discounted rates.


On Friday, AOL said qualifying not-for-profit organizations and not-for-profit advocacy groups would "receive the full functionality of AOL's e-mail system, including having images and Web links enabled in mail, and delivery to the e-mail inboxes of AOL members, at no charge to either the sender or the recipient."


"There will be no requirement, ever, for not-for-profits who deliver e-mail to AOL members to pay for e-mail certification and delivery," AOL postmaster Charles Stiles said.


Though AOL has been looking at different solutions for nonprofits since the Goodmail announcement caused an outcry among nonprofits and other e-mail senders, the no-charge decision was hastened by "opponents in recent weeks," AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham told DM News.


"We are making these steps of offering to pay for third-party validation of e-mails because of the confusion that has been created in the marketplace," he said.


MoveOn.org, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, RightMarch.com, Gun Owners of America and 45 other groups held a news conference last week to criticize AOL's use of CertifiedEmail. The coalition's Web site, dearaol.com, said AOL effectively would create a two-tiered system of e-mailers: affluent mailers willing to pay a fee the group calls an "e-mail tax" and other organizations that wouldn't pay and likely would "be left behind with unreliable service."


Nonprofits will have free access to one or more email accreditation services - which AOL is currently reviewing - and can use Goodmail for a discounted fee.


AOL plans to implement Goodmail in the next 90 days, Stiles said, and will issue a statement about the final structure of the nonprofit program in 30 to 60 days.


Meanwhile, it appears that for-profit businesses won't get the "free" status. When asked how AOL is helping business customers, Graham told DM News: "Commercial e-mail senders have the full benefits of being on our regular whitelist and, if we choose, our enhanced whitelist. And they will continue to be offered the option of Goodmail."


Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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