Mission: The Mockingbird Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving access to music education for America’s youth. Each year, the Foundation awards grants to dozens of music education programs, and funds those grants through a combination of publishing, fundraising, and the curation of Phish.net, one of the earliest Internet fan communities.
History: Mockingbird started as an all-volunteer non-profit in 1996 by fans of the band Phish to raise money for music education for children. The original impetus was the compilation of the most factually accurate and delightfully literary book on Phish’s music available, with contributions from as many fans as possible. We’ve done that, in three highly successful editions, as well as taken on a wide range of projects, including an album, art, special events, and branded merchandise.
Purpose: The Mockingbird Foundation has no salaries, paid staff, office space, or endowment — thus distributing all possible funds to charity. No member or volunteer benefits financially from the Foundation in any way, and all proceeds from Mockingbird projects are donated to tax-exempt organizations. The Foundation’s primary purpose is charitable, out of love for and thanks to Phish for their inspiring music, and has now distributed more than $1.2M to more than 380 grantees covering all 50 states.
Virtual: Borne from a Usenet newsgroup, and started in a mailing list, Mockingbird now incorporates a wide of tools and media, and publishes content from Phish.net in print form, to other sites through a set of APIs, and to various mobile apps through strategic partnerships. Yet it still exists almost exclusively online, using the Internet for publicity, fundraising, all internal communications, and even to develop, produce, and distribute intellectual property
Formal: Though the Foundation exists almost exclusively online, it is a formally recognized nonprofit, with 501(c)3 tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. Donations are thus tax-deductible, and contributions are applied to the next round of regular grants. We attempt to remain as transparent as possible, and welcome you to review these formal Foundation documents:
- 501(c)3 “Determination letter” from the IRS
- 2007 Confirmation of 501(c)3 Determination
- Articles of Incorporation
- Bylaws (last revised 4/8/19)
“It’s nice to see how a real charity works.” – MusicDish