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What Might a BRIDGE-Enabled World Look Like?

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For several years, we’ve been talking about the benefits to the philanthropic sector as the BRIDGE number becomes widely adopted as a standard for identifying global philanthropic entities. The primary focus of BRIDGE has always been to enable interoperability. Different information technology systems and software applications will be able to communicate, exchange data, and use the information that has been exchanged to add value and generate new insights. We’re excited that BRIDGE may someday provide the interoperability backbone on which organizations can exchange information based on a shared set of standards.

BRIDGE’s partners have already initiated several proof-of-concept data projects that show what is possible through BRIDGE. These projects hint at a future where philanthropic and nonprofit organizations are able to develop entirely new ways to exchange information and ideas in order to build great things together.

Since 2013, Foundation Center, GlobalGiving, GuideStar, and TechSoup have worked together on BRIDGE. They’ve created a link between their databases of social sector entities (NGOs, schools, foundations, charities, churches, etc.) using the BRIDGE number and its associated APIs. Nearly 3 million BRIDGE numbers have been issued so far.

We thought it might be helpful to share the details of a few interoperability efforts that are underway. We hope these projects will spark the imagination of others who work with nonprofit data.

Here Are Some Interoperability Projects in Development:

BRIDGE as a Search Tool

Foundation Center, the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide, has been developing several new uses of the BRIDGE system. In the near future, BRIDGE numbers will be displayed on the profiles of organizations found in Foundation Center’s database of grantmakers and grants, Foundation Directory Online (FDO). BRIDGE numbers will also be displayed in Foundation Maps, a data visualization platform that shows philanthropic funding flows around the world.

Users will be able to search by BRIDGE number. New API methods will enable the ability to query data using the BRIDGE number and other search criteria, such as a nonprofit’s top funders. These changes will make it easier to identify specific organizations across Foundation Center’s tools — including freely available ones like FDO Quick Start — and partner platforms.

Soon, a grantseeker who comes across a prospective funder in FDO will be able to search Foundation Maps by that grantmaker’s BRIDGE number. A grantseeker can see what other organizations a grantmaker has supported and where. Similarly, a donor using Foundation Maps to identify nonprofits in a particular region can soon find grantee BRIDGE numbers and conduct additional research at GlobalGiving or GuideStar.

BRIDGE for Funder Insights

GuideStar, the world’s largest hub of US nonprofit information, is also working with Foundation Center on a project. It will create an API that uses the BRIDGE number to retrieve a list of top funders to a given nonprofit, then incorporates that information into the organization’s GuideStar Nonprofit Profile. This API will provide quick and streamlined funding information to professionals around the sector, saving time.

Currently, organizations with a confirmed ID in GuideStar’s database have their BRIDGE number automatically displayed in their Nonprofit Profile as a field under the summary tab. The summary tab is visible to all site users.

When nonprofits who do not have a BRIDGE number claim or update their Nonprofit Profile, GuideStar will call upon the BRIDGE API to immediately issue one. Then GuideStar will automatically insert it into the profile. Additionally, GuideStar plans to include BRIDGE numbers as a searchable field in future releases.

BRIDGE as a Process Streamlining Tool

GlobalGiving, a crowdfunding community for nonprofits worldwide, is testing ways in which it can use BRIDGE APIs to improve the speed and accuracy of its onboarding process. GlobalGiving’s project will make it easier to import grant history and data from third parties. The organization hopes this will reduce the amount of work a nonprofit has to go through to begin raising funds on its site. GlobalGiving is also exploring how it might better integrate its validation processes with TechSoup.

These projects are only the beginning. As we continue over the coming months and years to develop proof of the BRIDGE number’s value to the nonprofit sector, we expect to see additional uses and applications emerge. More to come.

The preceding is a cross-post of an August 11 article that was originally published on the BRIDGE registry.  You can access the lookup tool at bridge-registry.org. For more information, contact the BRIDGE organizers or sign up to receive future milestone announcements from the BRIDGE project.

Topics: BRIDGE