The Brony Thank You Fund is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) public charity. All donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.
It's been a while since I've given a general update on the Fund, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to update everypony on how things are going. The whole Las Pegasus debacle sucked up a lot of time, because although it wasn't officially a Fund project, we were heavily involved in a civilian capacity in the relief auction planning and execution. Thankfully, we're on the other side of that mess, and can refocus on the bigger picture again.
At the moment, we're about 40% of the way to our fundraising goal for the CalArts scholarship. My plan (knock wood) is to be able to hand over a check to CalArts at EQLA 2014. We'll be selling our calendars at the major ponycons this spring and summer, as well as prints. We have two of our posters and one of the SDCC posters yet to auction off. We're also starting to hear from conventions and individuals that want to fundraise for us. It's an aggressive goal, but one I think we can make.
If you missed the comings and goings, Lee Tockar moved into a new advisory board position, freeing a board slot for Sibsy to take. We also appointed our first regional coordinator, Phillip Gotobed, who will be handling the SW area of the US for us.
Update on Our 501(c)3 Application
Way back in June of 2012, while we were deep in the midst of getting the commercial producted, we looked forward and realized that if we were going to be a long-term charity for the fandom, we needed to get serious about our corporate structure. We had already incorporated as a non-profit in New Hampshire, but in order to ensure that there were no long-term financial issues for the officers of the Fund, and to offer the most benefit to our donors, we needed to get US Exempt Organization status. In specific, we needed to become registered as a 501(c)3 public charity/
This is a slow, slow process. Unless you are creating a charity for someone time-critical, like earthquake relief, you tend to get thrown into the "needs development" pile. It's a big pile... We applied last June, and only got pulled out of the stack and assigned to an Exempt Organizations specialist on March 12th of this year. The good news is, according to the IRS, once it's in the hands of the EO specialist, it typically gets processed in 1-2 months. That means that we could get news as soon as the middle of April. Neither the board, nor our counsel, can think of any reason that we should be outright turned down, but you never know. We're crossing our fingers, and hoping to join the ranks of giants like the Red Cross and Toys for Tots soon.
What's That Funny Character Doing There?
No, we're not talking about Pinkie Pie™, as funny as she is on occasion. We're talking about the R in a circle (®) that now appears next to our name at the top of the web site. Does this mean that we're been acquired by Radio Shack? Are we now Kosher (you may be thinking of U in a circle...) Is it parasprites or changelings taking over the site?
Nope, it's the Registered Trademark symbol, and we now own the right to use one. Technically, it's a registered service mark, because we offer a service (charity), not a product. When genuine Coder Brony™ action figures come out, we can register them for a trademark, though. What this means is that we are now the registered owners of the phrase "The Brony Thank You Fund®", and can take legal action against anyone else using it without our permission. Anyone can claim something to be a trade or service mark, just by putting the ™ or ℠ symbol after a phrase or logo (as I did with my name back there), but registering it with the US Patent and Trademark Office gives it a large degree of extra "umph".
So why did we go to the trouble and cost of registering our name as a service mark? In short, to protect ourselves against potential cybersquatters. If someone grabs a domain name similar to yours, things can get messy. For example, using Rule 34, let's assume someone registers bronythankyoufund.xxx. Now that we've all used our supply of brain bleach, how do we defend ourselves against the misuse of our name and potentially fradulent attempts by a bad person to represent themselves as us? The mandatory mediation process that the world regulatory bodies use to resolve these disputes is extremely expensive, but one way to short circuit some of the hassles is to have a registered trade or service mark in place. Compared to the potential cost of mediation, the registration cost was a no-brainer.
I hope that you'll come visit our table if you see us at any of the cons, and keep us in your thoughts as we work toward our current goal.