As far as why we need it, I have some thoughts on that that I'll share.
Note: these are my thoughts as me, an individual, and not speaking as a rep. for the board or the org.
It's been my experience that the non-profit community is more likely to take an organization more seriously if they've gone through, and succeeded at, the 501c3 application process. It gives you an air of legitimacy, and lets others know that you're serious about what you're doing, and are willing to put in the time and effort it takes.
It also says something about self sufficiency. I think it's great that there are other orgs out there, like springboard for the arts, or school factory, that are willing to handle things like accepting donations or grants. Thing is, they take a cut, a percentage. Why not get our 501c3 status, and keep all the money that people give us?
Last, there are tangible benefits. Specifically, I know Frattalone Ace Hardware has specifically said that once we get our 501c3 status, our members will be able to show a card, and have their purchases for materials used at the space be tax exempt. I for one don't want to leave 7% sitting on the table if I can avoid it. Also, other organizations, companies, and corporations or more willing to give if you're a non-profit. I can speak specifically to Barnes and Noble, and Starbucks. If you call them looking for a donation, a tax break, an event, or anything, the first question they ask is, "Are you a non profit?"
Our mission is to make, share, and learn. All the other places I can think of that do this either have, or are pursuing, non profit status. If it can help us do that, why not us?