What I think

This is Part 3 in a three-part series about the new .ngo and .ong domains. To learn what those are, take a look at Part 1: “ What are these new domains, anyway?” To read the reactions of other influential blogs and organizations, check out Part 2: “ What Others Are Saying.”

So we know that .ngo/.ong domains are reviewed for trustworthiness but does that matter? We know that they’re for branding your organization but does everyone know the NGO acronym? Is anyone using the OnGood social network or is it just the next Google+?

Here’s what I’m thinking, broken down by the major selling points.

Branding: Wait & see, unless you’re global

When it comes to branding, I think that these domains will eventually become popular and widely recognized but not immediately. If it were me, I’d buy the equivalent .ngo  domains for my .org websites to prevent confusion from another organization buying it, but I wouldn’t start using them beyond redirecting visitors to my .org website. ((And of course, for those who do want to use the .ngo domain, make sure to redirect your .org domain to it.))

The possible exceptions are if you’re a giant nonprofit with enough influence to begin using .ngo now as a “trendsetter” or smaller NGO doing international work. In the United States, the NGO acronym is associated with nonprofits that do international work, so those organizations may find a .ngo domain more memorable and meaningful to supports.

We’ll know within a year or two if these domains are going to catch on or not. If they do, having one will be an online indicator for any legitimate social good organization.

Reach: A new source of visitors

The new OnGood Network is now online! Here’s the profile of one of my favorite local nonprofits, the Washington Trails Association. You can see that they’re currently redirecting to as many early adopters are.

I think there’s the potential that the OnGood directory may end up being more valuable than the .ngo domain itself. Since the domain requires a verification process, both human users and tech services like Google will be able to use inclusion in the directory as a signal that certain organization’s and their websites are trustworthy. At worst, it seems OnGood will join the small group trusted nonprofit directories like CharityNavigator and GuideStar linking to social good organizations.

This indicator of trust may be even more important for smaller organizations and international organizations. While it’s still early, the site Alexa is showing that the United States accounts for the most traffic to OnGood.

Donations: Expensive but flexible, global donation platform

The OnGood Network also comes with integration of a donation “widget” for easily accepting donations online, powered by Ammado. However, this service is fairly expensive. It took me a while to dig up the relevant policies, but here’s what I know as of June 2015 about costs for using this tool:

  • Ammado charges 5% of all donations for their services.
  • An additional fee of around 2.5% is charged by most credit cards for processing the fee.
  • When required, currency conversions are handled by the credit card’s banks for all currencies except USD, EUR, GBP, and JPY. That conversion generally costs 1.5%-2% of the donation.
  • In rare cases a “partner fee” may be charged  I do not understand what this is or why it is charged.
  • There are no signup/setup fees, per-transaction fees, or monthly fees.

If I’m doing my math right, then, expect to only get about 90% of each donation made in currencies other than your own and 7.5% of donations made in your currency.

That’s a lot of fees, so why would you use it then? I think there are still some good reasons:

  1. Donor Convenience: If a donor is viewing your profile on, this gives them an immediate way to donate.
  2. Donor Trust: Here in Seattle, each year we have a day of giving for nonprofits that are part of the Seattle Foundation (almost all are). All of these donations are run through a single processor (Click & Pledge). Over time, I’ve seen many nonprofits use Click & Pledge because it’s well-known and trusted in Seattle. The same may happen for OnGood/Ammado.
  3. International Donors: I’m not familiar with handling international donations, but this makes it pretty darn easy. Particularly for smaller, international organizations, this could be the fastest and easiest way to get up and running for online donations.

If you already have an online-giving platform—anything from a PayPal link to custom credit-card processing on your website—I doubt the OnGood donation widget will reduce giving from that platform, so why not happily accept 90% of donations you might not get otherwise?

Wrapping Up

So put me down for cautiously optimistic. I see lots of upsides, though none seem guaranteed yet. But if you can afford the setup time and extra ~$65 a year for the domain, I don’t see a reason not to grab your domain now so you’re ready if and when it catches on. Let’s all hope it does!

What Do You Think?

You know what it is. You’ve heard the experts. You know what I think. So what are you thinking? Time to go and grab your .ngo domain?

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