Posted by: Don Linnen | 19 May 2009

A Bridge Too Far?

In Dallas, the much touted DonorBridge opens to the public tomorrow. Communities Foundation of Texas, the Institute for Urban Policy Research at UTD, and the Center for Nonprofit Management with support from The Dallas Foundation will publicly launch this new online tool.

Think of it as a master connector. If it works, it will link nonprofits, donors, and supporters. There’s no reason to believe it won’t work. The smart folks at Blackbaud, a savvy software and services company, are behind the technical end of this.

Since early this year, hundreds of Dallas area nonprofits have spent thousands of hours establishing their digital footprints on DonorBridge. Will it pay off or is it a bridge too far?

In 1977 their was an epic film about WWII in which the Allies tried to shorten the war by taking several bridges deep in enemy territory. One Allied advisor at the time suggested that the operation was to aggressive. Too big. Too optimistic. He said, “I think we may be going a bridge too far.”

What about DonorBridge? Is it too aggressive? Too big? Too complex? Too optimistic? Will people really use it?

DonorBridge is unique for North Texas – maybe for the nation. It’s consolidating regional nonprofits into a one-stop “shopping” experience for donors. It’s trying to simplify the confusing milieu of information and numbers regarding nonprofit management, governance, effectiveness, programs, and stewardship for anyone who cares.

It is a big bridge. That’s necessitated by the number of nonprofits in the Dallas area. What we really need is a simple bridge – an effective means of crossing the information gaps quickly and easily.

Who will use DonorBridge? According to Paco Underhill, 60% of the wealth in America is held by people 55 and over. Will the “old dogs” use it, or will it only be the “kids” who shop online and are comfortable with Twitter, Facebook, and text messages?

DonorBridge is a terrific step to bring some consolidation to the sometimes baffling array of overlapping choices we have locally. But like much new construction, its benefits may be best realized by future generations – givers who find the simplest ways to cross the bridge.

Hats off to the builders of DonorBridge. Your efforts today will make a difference in the world tomorrow.

Who knows? Tomorrow may come sooner if we can teach old dogs some new tricks.

And remember this – the Allies failed in their attempt to take a bridge too far. But they won the war.

The nonprofits are fighting wars worth fighting. DonorBridge is one more tool to help win those wars.

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