In the financial markets, there are rules that if a particular exchange is unable to execute an order, they must route that order to a competing exchange immediately.
This is from a nice blog post by Sean Stannard-Stockton. He points out that in the nascent philanthropic financial markets, there is no obligation to re-route donors to another philanthropic exchange under similar circumstances.
At GlobalGiving, we have informal agreements with a number of other exchanges, and we do refer donors to partners when it makes sense. This helps us meet our pledge to donors that they will be satisfied with their experience at GlobalGiving. It also helps our partners grow, and it generates goodwill for all involved, which pays off over the long term.
Together with a loose coalition of other philanthropic exchanges from around the world, we have been exploring whether it makes sense to develop a formal inter-operability framework. This framework might include common standards and the ability to automatically fulfill donations referred by other exchanges.
Sean is right: making the non-profit social capital market more effective means that this type of collaboration needs to be accelerated.