We wanted to let you know that last month, we (Ben's Friends) submitted our application to the IRS for 501 C 3 Non Profit Status. The 501 C 3 status will allow personal donations to be tax deductible and will put us in contention for many Non Profit Foundation Grants. We're very excited about this because it will allow us to start many more communities to help patients! We all know there is a ton of love and support on these sites, and we want to bring it to more people across the world.
For those that don't know, Ben's Friends (www.BensFriends.org) runs 35+ separate support groups for patients with rare diseases. Every month we are helping about 80,000 patients and friends/family members, which is far beyond our wildest dreams when we started six years ago.
To date, the folks behind the scenes have contributed about $30,000 of our own money to keep Ben's Friends going. We've been incredibly fortunate to have raised another $50,000 in donations. So over 6 years we have spent $80,000 total to help tons of people. We've never taken a salary or any form of compensation, this is something we love to do. Ben's Friends could never have succeeded on such a small budget without the wonderful volunteer moderators who make the communities go! Thank you Moderators! Please take a second to thank the volunteer Moderators on your community. They are truly incredible people!
We have a great lawyer who did all the paperwork and is shepherding us through the Non Profit Process, and she is donating all of her time for free (pro bono). We have petitioned for an expedited review (not favorable treatment, just a faster review of our application). If we get that, we could be approved in 3 months, if not, it might take as long as a year and a half. If you have a contact at the IRS, we would love to talk to them. Again, we are not asking for favorable treatment, just a faster process.
We will continue to keep you updated on the process. Thanks for all the love and kind words you send us every day. The people on these networks are so special and we're privileged to be a part of it.
Please let me know if you have any questions. We're all in this together.
Ben Munoz, Scott Orn, Eric Kroll, John Stamler & Haley Gallant
Co-Founder, Ben's Friends