Since it was founded in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union has “worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States” through litigation (civil action through the court), lobbying (influencing various government entities in a number of ways), and community activism/involvement.
The ACLU does not receive any government funding and does not charge any of its clients for legal representation.
You may provide support through one or both of the ACLU’s two separate organizations:
- The ACLU Foundation has a 501(c)(3) classification and donations made to it are tax-deductible. Because of its tax status, the ACLU Foundation is not able to be directly involved in government actions so the funding is limited to defense/litigation, communications, and support of public education programs.
- The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) itself has more flexibility in the work it is able to do since the funding it receives through the public is not tax-deductible, relieving it of the restrictions imposed on 501(c)(3) organizations and allowing the union to take part in lobbying and being involved in legislation. Contributors to the ACLU are card-carrying members.
In addition to the two separate organizations you have the option of supporting, there are several ways to support each of them.
- Donations: If you are becoming a member of the ACLU, you can opt for a one-time donation or a monthly donation. If you are making a donation to the ACLU Foundation, your only option is a one-time donation. You can also decide to join/support your local ACLU affiliate – there is one in every state.
- Gift Memberships: You can pay for someone else to join the ACLU by specifying a secondary recipient (same information as above). You may also do this in memory of (or in honor of) someone else.
- Gifts of Stock: Transfer stocks or other securities to the ACLU Foundation electronically or by physical delivery. The gift is tax-deductible as long as you’ve held it for a minimum of one year.
- Partner with the ACLU in the Crystal Eastman Leadership Society by making a tax-deductible gift of $1,000 or more.
- Through Your Will: Leave your estate, a percentage of your estate, or a specific dollar amount from your estate to the ACLU through designation in your last will and testament to support justice and equality for future generations.