Friends of the Clinical Center 

FOCC is Friends Helping Friends

FAQ Answers

This page contains questions that we are frequently asked about FOCC. Click the question to see the answer. If you have a question that does not appear here, please send it to the Executive Director.

General Matters

What is the Friends of the Clinical Center [FOCC] and what does it do?

FOCC is a non-profit charitable corporation. It was established in 1984. It is located at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Its mission is to provide emergency financial assistance to patients (and family member of patients) who are participating in research protocols at the National Institutes of Health.

How can FOCC help me?

If you are a patient who is participating in an active research protocol at the Clinical Center and if you encounter emergency or extraordinary (non-incidental) financial problems, FOCC might be able to give you or your family members aid with respect to such financial emergency.

What type of financial assistance does FOCC make available?

FOCC provides emergency aid on a case-by-case basis to patients (and their families) during the stressful times associated with participation in a research study. This assistance might be in the form of cash (third party check), property or even services.

Are there priorities among the types of funding requests that FOCC recognizes and prefers or are all requests from patients evaluated equally?

There are no automatic priorities, per se. Each patient and each patient’s circumstances is specifically evaluated for eligibility by the social worker. When FOCC receives a request for funding, it evaluates that request without regard to any priority or preference.

How do I get placed on FOCC’s mailing list to receive information about FOCC and upcoming Events?

There is no mailing list. FOCC does not maintain a mailing list. Rather, most of the information you will need can be found online at this web site. If the information you seek is not present on this web site, you can ask your question or questions by sending an e-mail to the Executive Director, Heidi Grolig. Also, you can suggest that FOCC cover un-addressed topics on this web site (as well as make any other suggestion that suits you) by sending your suggestions to the Executive Director


How is FOCC different from other National Institutes of Health charities?

There are three charitable organizations at the National Institutes of Health:

  • The Children’s Inn
  • Special Love/Camp Fantastic, Inc.
  • Friends of the Clinical Center

The Children’s Inn provides a home-like environment on the NIH campus where pediatric patients and their families are able to stay during times of treatment.

Special Love/Camp Fantastic, Inc. provides quality recreation and other support programs to children (and their families) who have been diagnosed with cancer and/or AIDS. Camp Fantastic is a week long summer camp which encourages the children to act like all kids, not like children who are cancer patients.

FOCC, unlike Children’s Inn and Special Love/Camp Fantastic, Inc., provides emergency financial assistance to help patients and their families with mortgage and rent payments, for example; with utility bills payments; with transportation expenses to and from the Clinical Center; with hotel expenses; and with medical bills associated with participation in research protocols at the National Institutes of Health. FOCC has also purchased special equipment (a reader, for example) for a patient with special sight needs; and, too, has paid the course registration fee for a patient who was about to undergo brain surgery in order to enhance the quality of her life.

What are some examples of needs met by FOCC?

FOCC frequently is asked by patients to pay their home mortgages while they are participating in a protocol. FOCC also pays utility bills and telephone bills as well.

FOCC has also paid the transportation costs for family members who need to accompany the patient to the Clinical Center while the research protocol is ongoing.

In addition, FOCC also pays for medical devices such as wheel chairs, breathing machines, dentures and limb prostheses.

Other types of expenses are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Is FOCC different from the Patient Emergency Fund (PEF)?

Yes. The PEF is administered by the Social Work Department of the Clinical Center. PEF is available to patients and their families for incidental emergency expenses incurred while they are participating in National Institutes of Health protocols at the Clinical Center.

Unlike FOCC, PEF offers funds for basic necessities such as food and incidental day-to-day expenses. FOCC provides emergency funds for extraordinary occurrences.

Does FOCC assist patients (and their families) who are at other hospitals in the Washington, DC metropolitan area or elsewhere in the country?

No. FOCC was established only to help patients (and their families) who are participating in research protocols at the Clinical Center.

How many patients and their families are helped each year by FOCC?

Approximately 60 to 70 patients are helped each year by FOCC.

Governance of FOCC

How is FOCC governed?

FOCC is a non-profit corporation governed by its bylaws.

Under the bylaws, there are up to twenty voting directors who are permitted to vote on FOCC matters; other seats may be designated by the Board of Directors for non-voting directors who otherwise lend their volunteer support and expertise to FOCC.

The Board of Directors votes for and designates FOCC’s officers. The current officers are the President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer.

Does FOCC have a Taxpayer Identification Number for Federal Income Tax purposes?

Yes. FOCC’s Taxpayer Identification Number is 52-1449492.

Income Tax Matters

Is FOCC a tax exempt 501(c)(3) organization?

Yes. FOCC applied to the Internal Revenue Service for and was granted tax exempt status as a charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.

What is a Section 501(c)(3) organization?

Upon application by a charitable organization, the Internal Revenue Service will grant Section 501(c)(3) status in appropriate cases. If an applicant organization is approved for such status, donations made to the organization are deductible for income tax purposes except in specified instances where the law provides limitations on such deductibility.

Does FOCC participate in United Way and the Combined Federal Campaign?

YES!  FOCC is involved in the CFC campaign for year 2010. Please be sure to include our CFC # 85994 to your CFC contributions!

Can I obtain a copy of FOCC’s annual report or tax return?

Yes. The annual report is available on this web site. The tax return (IRS Form 990) for the most recent year of filing is available by request from the Executive Director

Helping FOCC Help Others:  Friends Helping Friends

How do I make a donation to FOCC?

Donations of cash or property can be made in person to FOCC at its office located at the Clinical Center, NIH,Social Work Dept.,9000 Rockville Pike, Building 10, Room 2-3581, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.

Please mail donations to P.O.Box 340139, Bethesda, MD 20827

In addition, FOCC participates with United Way and Combined Federal Campaign. FOCC’s designation number is #85994.

You can make a one time contribution or a monthly paycheck contribution through United Way and Combined Federal Campaign.

Both individuals and businesses can make a contribution to FOCC. Your contributions can be in the name of a friend or family member, can be given for general use, or can be earmarked for a specific use such as support for a particular fund raising event.

May I Donate Property to FOCC Rather Than Cash?                                   

Yes. You can donate any type of property which is capable of legal transfer. For example, you can donate stock; you can donate bonds; you can donate an automobile; you can donate a patent you own; you can donate royalties you will receive; or, you can donate real estate.

There can be immediate tax advantages to the donor who donates appreciated property to a charitable organization such as FOCC. If this interests you, you should consult with a qualified tax accountant or tax attorney.

Can I leave a bequest to FOCC in my will?

Yes. To do so, the person who prepares your will (for example, your lawyer) should write-in a specific bequest to FOCC which names FOCC as the recipient of the bequest. A general bequest to charity will not find its way to FOCC.

My company will match a gift/donation I make to a charitable organization. How do I arrange this?

Most companies that match employees’ charitable contribution have a form to use. Obtain a copy of the form; complete the portion you are to complete; and, send it to FOCC together with your donation.

FOCC will complete its portion of the form and will return it to the company for processing. We also will acknowledge your contribution.

May I specify the purpose for which my donation will be used?

Yes. Your contributions can be given for general use, or can be earmarked by you for a specific use such as support for a particular fund raising event.

May I make a donation in the name and memory of a family member or friend?

Yes. Your contributions can be made by you in the name of a friend or family member.

Are my donations deductible for income tax purposes?

Yes. FOCC is a charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. However, such deductibility is subject to the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code and the Regulations issued thereunder with respect to such matters as limitations on the amount of total contributions made by a taxpayer in any one tax year, for example. If you are in doubt, you should seek the advice of a qualified tax accountant or tax attorney.

Can I help FOCC by volunteering my time?

Yes. FOCC always welcomes volunteers. Indeed, FOCC could not survive without the help of those generous individuals who volunteer their time and assistance to help FOCC.

Some of our volunteers participate in special Events held by or sponsored by FOCC.

If you would  like to learn more about volunteering to help FOCC, call FOCC at 301-402-0193 or send an e-mail with your name and telephone number to the Executive Director

Receiving Assistance From FOCC

How can I learn if I am eligible for assistance from FOCC?

Speak with the social worker who is assigned to you about your emergency situation.

Are there limitations on who can receive aid from FOCC?

Yes there are. You must be a patient participating in an active protocol at the Clinical Center. In addition, you must find yourself with unpaid past-due bills (or with anticipated bills that you will not be able to pay).

If you are in doubt, talk to your social worker about your situation and about your proposed plan to avoid such financial hardship in the future. In fact, if your circumstances are unusual, do not assume that you are not eligible for assistance. Speak to your social worker. Your situation will be evaluated in its own merits. Remember, FOCC is here to help you if it can and if your financial state of affairs warrant emergency financial aid.

How do I actually apply for financial assistance?

If you are determined by your social worker to be eligible, she or he will work with you to complete the application (called a Funding Request form). Be sure to give your social worker copies of all bills that you would like to have paid by FOCC.

How long does it take to find out if I am approved for assistance? 

Once your social worker has met with you to determine that you are eligible to apply for emergency financial assistance, and once you have delivered copies of your bills to the social worker so she or he can complete the application for assistance (called a Funding Request form), your social worker will submit the Funding Request form to FOCC for approval.

Typically, FOCC will render its decision within three business days of having received the completed  application. Occasionally, however, FOCC will request additional information before it can make a decision on your behalf.

The goal of FOCC always is to render its decision and to make funds available to approved applicants as quickly as circumstances permit.

If my Funding Request is approved, will FOCC deliver funds directly to me?

Not quite.

If your request for assistance is approved, FOCC’s check will be delivered to your social worker for redelivery to you.

The check will be payable to the third party (for example, your telephone company) for which you submitted the bill to FOCC. If there are bills for more than one third party (for example, a bill from the telephone company, from your electric company and from your milkman for the delivery of dairy products, respectively), FOCC will prepare a separate check and deliver them to you (via your social worker) to reflect the bill from each of the above creditors.

Can I apply to FOCC for assistance more than once?

Yes, but assistance can only be approved once in a twelve month period. A new request can be submitted annually, twelve months after previous funding approval was received. If your request was disapproved, you can always apply again for assistance on a new, as-needed basis. In each instance, your social worker will evaluate your situation to determine if you are eligible to apply to FOCC.