American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, 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. The ACLU Foundation is the 501 (c)(3) arm of the organization.

Ruling year info

1967

Principal Officer

Mr. Anthony Romero

Main address

125 Broad St 18th Floor

New York, NY 10004 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

The Roger Baldwin Foundation of the ACLU, Inc.

EIN

13-6213516

NTEE code info

Civil Liberties Advocacy (R60)

IRS filing requirement

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

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2020, 2019 and 2018.
Register now

Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The ACLU seeks to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

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?

Center for Liberty

The ACLU’s Center for Liberty leads the organization’s work on issues of personal freedom, including lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) rights; women’s and reproductive rights; religious freedom; and disability rights.

Population(s) Served
Adults

The ACLU’s Trone Center for Justice and Equality focuses on reforming the U.S. criminal legal system, including racial bias, sentencing and other policies that have led the United States to incarcerate more people than any other country in the world; the treatment of prisoners; and the death penalty.

Population(s) Served
Adults

The ACLU’s Center for Democracy leads the organization’s pioneering work to protect and advance immigrants’ rights, voting rights, national security, human rights, and free speech, privacy, and technology.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Accreditations

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance 2012

Charity Navigator 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 this 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 this 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.

The ACLU combines litigation with public education, traditional and social media, advocacy, and on- and off-line activism to effect change at the local, state, and national levels. We:

• use litigation frequently and strategically to force attention on systemwide injustice, change hearts and minds, advance civil liberties, and win relief for vulnerable populations. To illustrate, our litigation for years protected hundreds of thousands of long-term, tax-paying U.S. residents—formerly granted “temporary protected status”—from immediate deportation. A recent win finally gave women in Guam access to medication abortion, which they could previously obtain only by travelling 4,000 miles to Hawaii.

• make use of traditional and social media to tell stories of people impacted by civil liberties abuses to generate a shift in public opinion that will help drive policy reform. For example, our years-long successful campaign to win marriage equality for same-sex couples was carried forward by the moving accounts of our clients in the media, a strategy we use today to defend transgender rights.

• mobilize and motivate supporters to advance and defend civil liberties online and in the streets. Most recently, more than 10,000 supporters engaged in weekly actions to support systemic equality, including promoting reparations and student debt forgiveness.

• make use of our 50+ state-based affiliates to conduct nationwide work and generate press; for example, filing “freedom of information act” requests in dozens of states on the same day, or pushing out Know Your Rights materials at state and local events. Our coordinated efforts include more than 200 legal actions responding to COVID-19, including 37 lawsuits to expand vote-by-mail and 83 legal actions to force government authorities to release or otherwise protect vulnerable individuals in jails, prisons, and immigrant detention centers.

• with our allies, coordinate best litigation practices among the many partners who work in our areas of interest so that we can collectively build expertise, sharpen strategies, avoid making bad law, and effect the broadest, highest-impact reforms possible. We are currently working with other leading reproductive rights groups to coordinate strategy to protect abortion access.

• collect and disseminate data and reports on key civil liberties issues, such as family separation, the school-to-prison pipeline, debtors’ prisons, and growing incarceration rates of women, to name a few. To illustrate, our headline-generating research on life-without-parole for nonviolent offenders directly resulted in commutations for almost 900 individuals serving life, and indirectly aided 800 more; our research on the racialized enforcement of marijuana laws across all 50 states continues to drive decriminalization.

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 our affiliate offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Additionally, the national organization and our affiliate network are supported by thousands of volunteer litigators, giving the ACLU unsurpassed influence and clout.

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.
This unique state-by-state infrastructure of affiliates enables us to respond immediately to urgent issues on the local, state, and national levels simultaneously. On any given day, we are engaged in an extraordinary amount of high-impact litigation, advocacy, and constituent mobilization. The national ACLU and ACLU affiliates are involved in some 2,000 cases—lawsuits we pursue because of their importance to advancing or defending freedom. No other non-governmental organization participates in as many Supreme Court cases as the ACLU—typically 25 percent of the Court's cases each term.

In addition to this legal work, our top-notch lobbyists, organizers, and advocacy professionals, as well as millions of volunteers, help advance civil liberties in state legislatures and in Congress via thousands of bills each year—often in partnership with allies from across the ideological spectrum. And our cutting-edge digital and communications teams educate the public across all media channels while conducting public opinion research and developing new messaging that shifts people’s perspectives; for example, we injected phrases such as “Driving While Black” and “Vote Like Your Rights Depend On It” into the public lexicon. As such, the ACLU is always in the news, routinely generating buzz about complex issues the media would otherwise ignore. At the same time, we are comfortable working in the background if it advances our fundamental goal of protecting civil liberties and civil rights.

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” principal. 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 Foundation, Inc.
lock

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.

Subscribe

Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our 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.

Operations

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

lock

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.

lock

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 Foundation, Inc.

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

Susan Herman

Brooklyn Law School

Term: 2008 -

Ronald Chen

Rutgers School of Law

Susan Herman

Brooklyn Law School

Aundre Herron

California Appellate Project

Aly Kassam-Remtulla

Princeton University

Robert Remar

Rogers & Hardin

Ron Tyler

Stanford Law School

Deborah Archer

NYU School of Law

Ronald Chen

Rutgers School of Law

Michele Goodwin

Irvine School of Law

Traci Griffith

St. Michael's College

Mary Hernandez

Invisage Consulting LLC

Jeffrey Hong

Techmana

Anil Mujumdar

Zarzaur Mujumdar & Debrosse

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 05/21/2021

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
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/13/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. 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 help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • 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.