Like most other non-profit membership organizations, the ACLU obtains the names of potential new members by renting the membership lists or subscriber lists of non-profit organizations and publications. Sometimes, instead of paying the rental fee, ACLU exchanges its list with that of another organization. This helps defray the costs of our new member recruitment and allows us to allocate more of our resources to ACLU programs.
Whether by exchange or rental, the lists are governed by very strict privacy procedures, as recommended by the U.S. Privacy Study Commission. All exchanges are made on a "blind" basis, as follows: Lists are never given into the physical possession of the organization that has rented or exchanged them. This safeguard is necessary to prevent one organization from knowing who the members of any other organization are. Instead, the list is sent to a mail house that prepares the mailing without our ever seeing who is addressed. The only time we get possession of a name from one of these lists is when the person receiving our invitation to join responds by sending our return envelope back to us.
If you are receiving a burdensome amount of unwanted mailings, you may wish to consider writing to each of the organizations to which you belong and publications to which you subscribe, requesting that your name be eliminated from lists made available for exchange or rental. The ACLU always honors such requests, and we believe that the organizations with which we exchange or rent lists honor them also, although of course we can't guarantee the actions of outside organizations.