AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION INC

Daring to Create a More Perfect Union

aka ACLU   |   New York, NY   |  www.aclu.org

Mission

Founded in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, multi-issue, 1.5 million+ member public interest organization devoted to protecting the civil liberties of all people in the United States. Recognized as the nation's premier public interest law firm, the ACLU works daily in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Ruling year info

1970

Principal Officer

Anthony D. Romero

Main address

125 Broad St 18th Floor

New York, NY 10033 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

13-3871360

NTEE code info

Civil Liberties Advocacy (R60)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Working with our expert lobbyists, organizers, and volunteers, we seek to generate the movement and popular support to beat back threats to, and secure expanded, civil liberties protections. We are contesting the continuing attempts to claim Election 2020 was “stolen” and thus to allow partisan state legislatures to override the vote in 2024, as well as challenging the wave of voter suppression, anti-abortion, and anti-trans legislation in the states. We prioritize opportunities to fix what’s broken. This includes tackling obstacles to systemic equality and racial justice, from police brutality, to gerrymandering, to basic economic barriers like evictions and student debt. We also leverage new openings to pressure the Biden administration to reunite separated immigrant families and restore the asylum system, and to combat discrimination by strategically using the Justice Department and federal agencies to advance social justice.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Justice Division, National Political Advocacy Department

Cut mass incarceration, curb police abuse, reform drug laws, abolish capital punishment, and overhaul conditions of confinement via advocacy with policy makers, grassroots organizing, and political work to influence the positions of candidates and elected officials.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Defend immigrants’ rights, seek racial justice, and protect the rights of people of color and stigmatized groups via advocacy with policy makers, grassroots organizing, and political work to influence the positions of candidates and elected officials.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Defend voting rights and democratic institutions, expose and curb abuses in the name of national security including mass surveillance, and protect privacy and free speech via advocacy with policy makers, grassroots organizing, and political work to influence the positions of candidates and elected officials.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Protect and expand religious freedom, LGBT rights, gender justice, religious liberty and disability rights via advocacy with policy makers, grassroots organizing, and political work to influence the positions of candidates and elected officials.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Facilitate immediate and high-impact response to crises and opportunities on the federal, state, and local level—mobilizing our base of 8 million online activists, social media followers, and dues-paying members.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Accreditations

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance 2012

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Average number of dollars given by new donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The average dollar amount given by donors who gave their first gift to the ACLU during the fiscal year (note that 2017 = FY2018, 2018 = FY2019, and 2019 = FY2020).

Number of new donors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

The number of donors who gave their first gift to the ACLU in the Fiscal Year (note that 2017 = FY2018, 2018 = FY2019, and 2019 = FY2020).

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

We seek to defend and expand Americans’ freedom to vote and to have their vote count, promote systemic equality and racial justice, ensure that LGBTQ people can live openly without discrimination and enjoy equal rights, protect First Amendment rights including free speech and the right to protest, defend and expand the rights of immigrants, protect women’s right to determine whether and when they have a child, advance systemic reform in institutions that perpetuate discrimination against women, end mass incarceration and racism in the criminal legal system, end discrimination against people with disabilities, and hold the U.S. government accountable to universal human rights principles in addition to rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Working in tandem with our litigators in every state—who are involved in some 2,000 cases annually—we advance our civil liberties agenda through political work, which includes intensive and expert lobbying, organizing, and voter education. Our strategies include:

• Grassroots organizing: People Power, our online platform to mobilize over 630,000 ACLU volunteers, has thus far empowered volunteers to launch successful campaigns, for example those to enact pro-immigrant and pro-voting rights legislation.

• Voter education and Get out the Vote work in election campaigns: We promote candidate accountability on key civil liberties issues, often framing the terms of the debate—as when we’ve made voters aware of candidates’ stances on immigrants’ rights.

• Ballot initiatives: We have a significant record of success; in 2020 alone we helped secure: payday lending reforms in Nevada; marijuana legalization in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota; digital privacy in Michigan; and the defeat of an abortion ban in Colorado.

• Lobbying at the federal, state and local level: Our expert lobbyists, organizers, and communications professionals work to help sway Congress, tackling literally hundreds of bills per year. Our policy strategists also work directly with our 53 affiliates to monitor proposals in the state legislatures, block bad measures, and push for progressive legislation. Recent wins include beating back regressive voting, protest, abortion, and anti-trans bills throughout the country. We helped secure federal criminal law reform (the First Step Act) and are currently leading bipartisan efforts to gain passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

These political strategies work hand-in-hand with our separately-funded, tax-exempt work. For example, after we failed to beat back Georgia’s new and terrible voter suppression law—which would even criminalize giving water and food to voters languishing in line—we filed suit, highlighting the ways the new law targets people of color, the poor, and people with disabilities.

See also “Capabilities” section below.

Founded by a handful of visionary activists, today the ACLU’s strong leadership oversees a high-impact organization that encompasses 1.3 million dues-paying members, 5 million online activists , over 6 million social media followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, 550 national headquarters staff, and 1,200 staff at affiliate offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Our high-impact work across issues provides crucial support to the many progressive movements whose ideals and achievements are now under attack. Our impact is amplified by our affiliate structure; among civil liberties and civil rights groups, only the ACLU has a staffed presence of litigators, organizers, and lobbyists in every state.

Our political arm builds on our legal strength, national reach, credibility, and influence with the public, policymakers, and the media. We have a grassroots network of eight million members, activists, and social media followers who engage in advocacy efforts. We routinely generate news and feature stories on complex issues that would otherwise be ignored or obscured by the media.

The ACLU is uniquely positioned to effect meaningful change through political work. Our millions of members and supporters, expert knowledge of the issues at the national and affiliate level, presence in each and every state, and reputation and partnerships form the foundation for a political strategy that is unmatched.

Few organizations have a membership that is as engaged and passionate as the ACLU. Since 2017, the ACLU has harnessed much of this power by training and activating members and supporters through our People Power program. Unlike many political advocacy programs, People Power is literally powered by a grassroots volunteer base. People Power is complementary and integral to the work of ACLU staff who are in the court rooms and legislatures nationwide.

Because of our work in legislatures and courtrooms, the ACLU is uniquely situated to understand the impact the policies elected officials support and promote have on peoples’ everyday lives. We can draw upon the local expertise of our affiliates, and the subject matter expertise of our legal and policy staff, to respond immediately to crises and also identify political opportunities where we can have most impact.

Voting Rights: We challenged the “poll tax” designed to prevent black Americans from voting decades before a constitutional amendment abolished the practice in 1964, the same year we won the Supreme Court ruling establishing the “one person, one vote” principle. In the 2020 election, we successfully expanded ballot access during the pandemic and challenged partisan manipulations of the vote count. We continue to challenge voter suppression, with current litigation in Georgia and elsewhere.

Immigrants’ Rights: The ACLU’s first exposé in 1920 spotlighted the government’s illegal crackdown on immigrants, and we challenged the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Today we’re fighting policies targeting asylum-seekers and helping to reunite thousands of families previously subjected to the Trump administration’s family-separation policy.

Free Speech & Privacy: Since the 1920s, the ACLU has been involved in virtually every landmark speech case to reach the Supreme Court. Our work includes defense of unpopular speech. We also lead efforts to defend the free speech rights of protesters and journalists, targeted by police in the recent waves of protest against police brutality. In protecting privacy, we challenged massive NSA surveillance, and won a landmark Supreme Court victory for digital privacy, requiring police to get a warrant for cellphone location data.

LGBTQ Rights: We defended the play “The Children’s Hour” against censorship of its “lesbian content” in 1936 and 50 years later won a Supreme Court ruling establishing that gay people have the right to seek government protection from discrimination. In 2015, we won a landmark Supreme Court victory that affirmed same-sex couples’ constitutional right to marry. Now we’re fighting a backlash against transgender youth, targeted by state legislatures.

Reproductive Freedom: We defended birth control pioneers in the 1920s, including winning a reversal of Mary Ware Dennett’s conviction for sending sex education information in the mail. In the 1960s and 1970s, we fought contraceptive bans and laid the groundwork for Roe v. Wade, and today our litigation serves as a critical backstop against almost nonstop efforts at the federal and state levels to restrict abortion rights.

Criminal Justice Reform: In the 1960s, the ACLU was key to two landmark Supreme Court decisions that guaranteed criminal defendants’ right to counsel and right to remain silent, respectively. Today we are immersed in a nationwide effort to challenge racism and police brutality in the criminal legal system and to end mass incarceration. Recent wins include system overhauls in high-incarceration states; helping to decriminalize marijuana, most recently in New York and New Jersey; and working to end the death penalty in 23 states so far, most recently in Virginia. We are currently seeking to replicate pioneering reforms that remove police from dealing with mental health crises and traffic infractions.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

Financials

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION INC

Board of directors
as of 7/16/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Deborah Archer

New York University School of Law

Term: 2021 -

William Aceves

No Affiliation

Mark Adams

No Affiliation

Li Yun Alvarado

No Affiliation

Deborah Archer

No Affiliation

Phil Bereano

No Affiliation

Ronald Chen

No Affiliation

Ruth Colker

No Affiliation

Cherie Dawson-Edwards

University of Louisville

Susan Estes

No Affiliation

Tim Fox

No Affiliation

Bruce Gilchrist

Hogan & Hartson

Michelle Goodwin

UC Irvine Law School

Madan Goyal

No Affiliation

Traci Griffith

No Affiliation

Susan Herman

Brooklyn School of Law

Mary Hernandez

Invisage Consulting LLC

Aundre Herron

California Appellate Project

Jeffrey Hong

No Affiliation

Donita Judge

No Affiliation

Arthur Kaplan

No Affiliation

Hamid Kashani

No Affiliation

Aly Kassam-Remtulla

No Affiliation

R. Samuel Paz

No Affiliation

Robert Remar

Rogers & Hardin

Freddy Rubio

Rubio Law Firl, P.C.

Margaret Russell

Santa Clara Law

Leslie Seymore

No Affiliation

Sara Shephard

No Affiliation

Peggy Strine

No Affiliation

Ronald Tyler

Stanford Law School

Jeralyn Wendelberger

No Affiliation

Ron Wilson

No Affiliation

Tedd Adams

No Affiliation

Patrick Anderson

Patrick N. Anderson & Associates, P.C.

Bruce Barry

Owen Graduate School of Management Vanderbilt University

Jillian Brevorka

Brevorka Law Firm, P.C.

Rosa Brown

No Affiliation

Michelle Brown-Yazzie

No Affiliation

Frank Calabrese

No Affiliation

Grace Chan

No Affiliation

Leticia de la Vara

No Affiliation

Melanie Deas

No Affiliation

Roni Jo Draper

Brigham Young University

Darlene English

No Affiliation

Nancy Fannon

Marcum LLP

Greg Hasty

No Affiliation

Nadia Hussain

No Affiliation

Kim Jordan

No Affiliation

Jeffrey Knetsch

No Affiliation

Kyle Sharon

No Affiliation

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 07/16/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/13/2021

Policies and practices developed in partnership with Equity in the Center, a project that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.