CaringBridge is a nonprofit organization, having received 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in 2002. CaringBridge does not show advertisements or sell its users' private information, relying instead on donations to fund its business operations.
CaringBridge provides an innovative service that could not be conceived of before the hyper-connected digital age. The nonprofit facilitates private, password-protected social networks for individuals struggling with mental illness, disease or just the pressures of daily life to connect in a safe space with friends and family.
The organization was conceptualized as a small, private website when founder Sona Mehring set up a website at the behest of friends who were having a premature baby. Rather than attempt to communicate with each of her friends' associates individually, Mehring set up the first CaringBridge-style website as a place for the couple to connect out of the public eye.
Mehring then set up the CaringBridge network so others could share in the benefits she saw realized in the lives of that couple as their baby was born. Today's social networks function much the same for many people, but the distinction in the case of CaringBridge that allows it to maintain its nonprofit status is that the company protects the privacy of its miniature social networks and its users vigorously. Regulators decided CaringBridge functioned for the greater good of society in granting it nonprofit status.
While it has retained its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit status as of 2015, the organization is not a private foundation under Section 509(a), a distinction that allows it to carry out its operations with a greater degree of autonomy than the more rigorously regulated private foundation status.