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The BRIDGE Global Charity Identifier Lands in Australia


Thursday, 12th May 2016 at 11:55 am
Lina Caneva, Editor
A US philanthropic project has started giving global charities a unique identifier number and according to QUT social sector academic Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes the system is already showing the names of Australian organisations that have so far not signed onto the scheme.

Thursday, 12th May 2016
at 11:55 am
Lina Caneva, Editor


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The BRIDGE Global Charity Identifier Lands in Australia
Thursday, 12th May 2016 at 11:55 am

A US philanthropic project has started giving global charities a unique identifier number and according to QUT social sector academic Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes the system is already showing the names of Australian organisations that have so far not signed onto the scheme.

The system called the BRIDGE Basic Registry of Identified Global Entities – has been set up as a collaboration between peak Not for Profit organisations, the Foundation Center, GlobalGiving, GuideStar, and TechSoup.  

The collaborators said that “a unique identifier for social sector organisations is a prerequisite for greater collaboration and sharing of information in the sector”. However few organisations in Australia have even heard about the system.

Launched in February, the BRIDGE assigns a “numerical fingerprint” to philanthropic organisations across the globe. The website said these can be non-governmental organisations, programs, and projects or other entities in the social sector, including schools and churches.

Funded by Google Inc., the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the BRIDGE project has a lookup tool to find global charities. It claims that more than three million charities have signed on world wide.

Professor McGregor-Lowndes from QUT’s School of Business told a charity regulator forum in Melbourne on Wednesday that he was surprised to find a number of Australian charities were already showing up on the BRIDGE numbering system.

“These digital disruptions may come from outside Australia and if they choose to become Navigator/Guidestar comparisons internationally, then Australia would be wise to have financial accounts and reports that were ‘apples to apples’,” McGregor-Lowndes said.  

“The UK has an accounting template for NPOs – called SORP and so does USA and Canada, NZ – Australia just has IFRS standards which don’t reveal a lot and are really not helpful in making comparisons.

“If it is used by international grantors Australia may be at a disadvantage.”

According to the website the BRIDGE project aims to “revolutionise information sharing in order to better understand and track the flows of philanthropic dollars and thereby enhance transparency and effectiveness in the global social sector”.

One of Techsoup’s Australian partners, Connecting Up, said the BRIDGE was in its infancy.

“It’s not about a charity comparison. It gives each charity a unique global identifier number that will enable them to raise their awareness and to assist them to receive global funding and be part of global initiatives that will benefit their charities,” ConnectingUp CEO Anne Gawen told Pro Bono Australia News.

“In this age of digital disruption, changing landscape and globalisation the more Australian charities have the opportunity to highlight their work to global philanthropic organisations the more it will be seen as a positive move.

“The BRIDGE program is simply a database of charities that have a unique identifier. This can be used by philanthropic organisations and others globally to see the good work these charities do.”

She said as more and more opportunities come from global philanthropic organisations to look at things they want to support around the world, Australia can look at the negative or look at the positive and see what can be achieved.

“At this point we are involved with our alliance with TechSoup and it’s an initial conversation that TechSoup has had and the global partners of TechSoup will be involved in the next stage of how we promote it and how do we support it and how it meets the needs of organisations we are working with. And looking at the model and how it works,” she said.

“It’s at the very early stages.”


Lina Caneva  |  Editor |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years, and Editor of Pro Bono Australia News since it was founded in 2000.

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