Donating to the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU Foundation: What is the Difference?


The ACLU comprises two separate corporate entities, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation. Although both the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation are part of the same overall organization, it is necessary to have two separate organizations to enable us to do the broad range of work necessary to protect civil liberties.

Supporters of the ACLU can choose to make a contribution to the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU Foundation or both. A contribution to either organization will be used to support, promote and defend civil liberties.

Both organizations support the ACLU's extensive litigation, communications and public education programs. However, certain important activities carried out by the ACLU cannot be supported with tax-deductible gifts. This is primarily in the area of lobbying, because federal law limits the amount that a tax-exempt organization like the ACLU Foundation can spend on lobbying.

As a matter of necessity, the American Civil Liberties Union has engaged in more and more legislative lobbying in the past several years. Our work fighting the Patriot Act, our efforts to stop FISA regulations passed by Congress, to oppose a National ID card and to advance important voting rights legislation are just a few examples of work that can only be funded through non-deductible membership gifts to the American Civil Liberties Union. Therefore, we strongly encourage donors interested in supporting the broad range of the ACLU's work to consider making the largest possible non-deductible gift that they can afford to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Donors who wish to make a tax-deductible gift can do so by contributing to the ACLU Foundation. Many donors choose to make membership gifts in support of the American Civil Liberties Union as well as tax-deductible gifts to the ACLU Foundation.

To make a non-deductible membership gift in support of the ACLU's litigation, education and lobbying efforts, click here. To make a tax-deductible gift to the ACLU Foundation, which will fund litigation and public education work, click here. If you'd like more information about tax-deductible contributions, please contact us via or by phone at (212) 549-2550.