Best Buddies International, Inc.

Rating: 4.56 stars   18 reviews

Issues: International

Location: 100 Southeast Second Street Suite 2200 Miami FL 33131 USA

Mission: The mission of Best Buddies is to establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Results: MILESTONES: 1989-2010 1989 – 1993 Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Best Buddies® becomes America’s first national, social and recreational program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Best Buddies Fine Art is conceived, featuring masterpieces by Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg. Best Buddies hosts the first unified Leadership Conference, training both college student leaders and people with intellectual disabilities, by providing intensive training in public speaking, management, public relations, team building, problem solving and leadership skills. Best Buddies launches Best Buddies Citizens with the goal of pairing adults with intellectual disabilities with their non-disabled working peers. 1994 – 1998 Best Buddies launches Best Buddies Jobs, a supported employment program, targeting high-paying, white-collar jobs for people with intellectual disabilities in Florida, California, and Massachusetts. Best Buddies establishes Best Buddies High Schools, with the goal of pairing special education students in one-to-one friendships with high school volunteers. Best Buddies Middle Schools’ pilot program is launched, reaching out to an even younger age group with the hope that inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities will have a lasting effect on societal norms for the next generation. 1999 – 2006 e-Buddies® is launched as a cutting-edge online friendship program. Maria Shriver writes a landmark book about friendships with people with intellectual disabilities titled, "What’s Wrong With Timmy?" with proceeds benefiting Best Buddies. Best Buddies launches most successful fundraising event in its history, the nationally televised inaugural Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle, chaired by California First Lady Maria Shriver, a 100-mile bike ride along the Pacific Coast Highway. For the first time, Best Buddies has programs in all 50 of the United States and on six continents. 2007 – 2010 Best Buddies International and German luxury car manufacturer Audi launch five-year, international partnership. Best Buddies celebrates 20 years of friendships and jobs. In honor of its 20th anniversary, Best Buddies updates it mission statement to: To establish a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). For the first time, Best Buddies has programs in 46 countries around the world. Best Buddies Ambassadors becomes Best Buddies seventh formal program, promoting leadership and self-advocacy among people with IDD.
Target demographics: Best Buddies serves people with and without IDD, though our primary beneficiaries are people with IDD. Participants include middle and high school students, college students, and community members with and without IDD. According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (formerly AAMR), an IDD is a state of functioning that begins before age 18 and is characterized by significant limitations in both intelligence and adaptive skills, which are those skills necessary for functioning in everyday life. We primarily serve children with mild to moderate cognitive difficulties, Down’s syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury, Fragile X Syndrome, and autism spectrum disorder.
Programs: Best Buddies Colleges matches adults with intellectual disabilities with college students and creates one-to-one friendships between them.  In the past, individuals with intellectual disabilities have not had the opportunity to have friends outside of their own, often isolated, environment.

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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I have been volunteering with Best Buddies for a decade now and I will never stop because I find the mission of Best Buddies so powerful and empowering. Best Buddies does not ask volunteers to be just mentors, tutors, or anything like that; instead, volunteers are asked to be friends. The great thing about friendship is the give-and-take nature of it. I have received much more from my experience with Best Buddies and from my buddies than I ever expected. If you choose to get involved with Best Buddies, you'll never regret it and you might never be able to stop.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I have had an E-buddy for almost 8 years now, and have developed a beautiful friendship with a woman I would not have otherwise met. Best Buddies is an organization that strives to build and cultivate love and friendships…what more could we want out of life? I love being a part of such a positive team, and highly recommend getting involved in this organization.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Possibly pair buddies in the same geographical location so they have an opportunity to meet and socialize together.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Best Buddies was my first job out if college in 1994 and the experience, opportunities and friendships that it created for me had shaped the way I feel as a professional in the world. It also directed me toward getting my graduate degree in nonprofit management. Being there for what was the beginning of this tremendous organization is a source of pride that I will always carry with me. The mission is simple and beautiful and the work that has been accomplished is inspirational. I will always love Best Buddies and feel connected to it in a special way.
Holly Snyder Goshin

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I have seen Best Buddies change peoples' lives in big way. I attended Leadership Conference in 2013 and heard directly from individuals with intellectual disabilities ("Buddies") that Best Buddies changed their lives.

One young man, a Buddy, told me that because of the Best Buddies jobs program he has a job and he has been performing for years at that job and he loves it. He also said with Pride the he is Good at it. He is grateful for that job and the purpose it has given him and that is why he was studying to be an ambassador so he can tell other people his story. By telling his story he hoped other people could get jobs also. When he understood that I was a volunteer, he thanked me. That changed my life.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Grow it to reach more people

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 1 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

Best Buddies, while in theory and some would argue practice is a good organization is NOT what you think it is. Think twice or maybe three or four times before giving ANY money to this organization or participating it the elaborate parties, bike rides etc. There are many more, well-deserving LOCAL organizations out there. Having been involved and watching the organization from a national standpoint I am deeply disappointed in the way they USE people with disabilities to get to fund six figure salaries in the corporate office. NOT ONE DIME of any money raised by the states stays in the state. It is all funneled to corporate for salaries, benefits etc. Individual chapters must raise their OWN money locally to conduct the mission of the organization at the local level. Many chapters have little to no support by the so-called program managers and the state director's main job is to raise more money for national. The chapters like I said in essence can be great but in practice the organization in my opinion is a scam that preys on the innocent. Don't let them try to tell you that the money goes back to the states, it doesn't except in salaries etc. It rarely if ever benefits a person with a disability directly. It pays the salary for the program manager to 'help' the chapters form friendships with people with disabilities. Noble effort but so much more could be done. Yes they 'may' help students get to Leadership conference but they first force them to create a fundraising page for the organization and get donations from friends and family members. Many students get more than they need to go to LC and raise extra money (in the name of disability support). Comparatively very few students with disabilities benefit from LC. Again, innocent students being duped into thinking their money is benefitting the charitable purpose. Chapters have to conduct fundraisers to pay DUES to national to fund their so-called leadership conference in Indianapolis every year. What is so sad to me is that the students involved love the organization but anyone on the inside can see that it is a self-serving organization that USES the students and buddies to line their own pockets. Find a local organization where the money stays local and give give give to them. Or if you love the organization at the local level DEMAND that your state office be independent of national and be able to keep the money local to fund the chapters and state activities. Always do your research. I am going local to serve and will NEVER serve on the board of a national organization and especially not give a dime ever to Best Buddies again. I think if you look closely too, you will find that the turnover in state directors is evident that something is amiss in this organization. Once really good people find out how it is operated and start to ask questions they are suddenly gone. The whole thing is really disgusting.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

close it down as it exists now -

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

No

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A little

Will you tell others about this organization?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 1 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

Wow, a close look at the financials is quite interesting. The organization spends an enormous amount of money on events, galas, etc...; but raises little money. A total of $ 312K was spent in 2010 on fundraising fees, and over $ 1.8M on fundraising expenses! That means their parties are awesome. The CEO makes nearly 300K a year, plus the financials note that they pay the CEO's annual membership at the Fisher Island Club. What's that you ask? Well according the Fisher Island Club website, it is the "Tropical Island Oasis with Private Beach, Golf, Tennis, Spa & Marina." It goes on to state that, "If you are looking for a world of exceptional luxury and pleasures, look no further. This exclusive private island paradise offers you world-class resort amenities including a seaside golf course, Mediterranean inspired tennis club, luxury spa, stunning beach club and marina along side luxury hotel accommodations and unrivaled service. Fisher Island Club is where only the most extravagant of lives come to vacation, play and live." Wait, there is more. The biggest expenses for Best Buddies in 2010 were the American Express at $ 588,511.00 and over $ 300K for their swanky corporate headquarters in downtown Miami. Hey, you can't the CEO to leave the private island and go to some mediocre office in Miami, do you? No, that wouldn't do at all. the Miami Tower "is the city's premier business address, the 47-story Miami Tower is also know for a world-class array of upscale amenities and personalized tenant services." I am glad to see everyone is going "first class." The most staggering line item is that the organization raised over $ 4.3M in 2010; but incurred direct expenses of $ 6.9M!!!! That is a loss of over $ 2.6M!!!!

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I have been involved with Best Buddies for 7 years, and now I am employeed in the Company. I truly believe that we are capable of having a socially inclusive world, but this would not happen without Best Buddies and the overwhelming support of the community, our participants, and our volunteers. I am a strong believer in the Best Buddies mission. Also, as a sister of a brother with Autism it is so important for individuals to have a place to turn to for friendship, an employment. My hope is that one day Best Buddies will work itself out of buisness and we will live in a totally inclusive society. This is a fabulous organization.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have developed wonderful relationships with a lot of people. I have had to opportunity to be paired in a one-to-one friendship with multiple people.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Give all schools in Allegheny County a chance to start the program in their school

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I support Best Buddies because I truly believe in the importance of friendship - that basic human need to be included, loved, appreciated, and respected. Best Buddies reinforces that people with intellectual disabilities should be viewed as equals, as co-workers and as friends. Every day my friends help me to enjoy life to it's fullest and Best Buddies creates environments and changes attitudes so that children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities can experience the same.!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've met one of my best friends through Best Buddies!

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Start a BB chapter in every high school in Allegheny County

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

My daughter inspired me to join best buddies, by befriending a class mate with IDD. She saw her friend as a classmate and peer, something that doesn't happen often enough. Best Buddies mission is to promote that kind of social inclusion and I'm regularly and consistently moved by the magic that happens through Best Buddies. The joy, zest for life, and real friendship on display at every Best Buddies event is enough to make me a devoted supporter for life!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Witnessing the impact on individuals with IDD and on students who participate.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I look forward to the day when we can expand our programming to more schools and to members of the community.

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Rating: 5 stars  

My name is Ikea Glover. I'm 22 years old and I'm from wilmington, delaware. I'm disabled and my family is disabled also.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Doing some activities for the disabled people.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Help with the other disabled people to walk outside.

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