ACLU Announces $335 Million Civil Rights/Civil Liberties Fundraising Campaign, Largest In American History
More Than $258 Million Already Raised In Unprecedented Effort To Expand The Impact Of ACLU Affiliates Nationwide And Protect Civil Liberties For Future Generations
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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today announced the public phase of the largest fundraising campaign on behalf of civil rights and liberties in American history. The $335 million “Leading Freedom Forward: The ACLU Campaign for the Future” is an unprecedented effort to build the organization’s infrastructure by increasing funding to key state affiliates nationwide, dramatically enhancing advocacy capabilities and securing the ACLU’s financial future for generations to come.
The overwhelming success of the campaign so far and its future aspirations will be celebrated tonight at a gala dinner for ACLU supporters at the organization’s 2008 Membership Conference, where campaign co-chairs Quinn Delaney and Nadine Strossen and ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero will make this announcement and thank early campaign supporters.
The campaign has already raised more than $258 million – over $102 million in cash and pledges and $156 million in planned gifts – highlighted by 21 contributions of $1 million or more from the ACLU’s staunchest supporters and several of the world’s most noted philanthropists. These include two gifts of $12 million, one from George Soros, through his Open Society Institute, and one from the Sandler Foundation. Other leadership contributors include the Leon Levy Foundation, which donated $5 million, and Delaney and her husband, Wayne Jordan, who donated $4 million.
“Now is an extraordinary moment for the ACLU, a time when we are positioned both to restore constitutional liberties that have been taken away and extend freedoms to those in our society who have been denied rights for far too long,” said Strossen, who is nearing the end of her 18-year tenure as the ACLU’s president. “Our vision is not simply to regain lost ground, but to push the frontiers of freedom, making equality, justice, and fairness a reality for all Americans.”
“This campaign is an unprecedented investment that will truly leave a lasting legacy. It will strengthen our affiliates in key states of this country where civil liberties are in greatest peril, and where there is potential to make great gains that will resonate for years to come,” said Delaney. “Our steadfast supporters have heeded our call to raise their level of financial commitment. Now we are asking a wider audience of Americans who believe in the sanctity of civil liberties to help us build for the future.”
A major goal of the campaign is to substantially increase the ACLU’s presence and effectiveness from coast to coast by significantly increasing the programmatic and institutional capacity of its affiliates, particularly in states where civil liberties violations are most egregious and opportunities for change most promising. These states include Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Montana, Mississippi, Michigan, Missouri, and Tennessee.
Moreover, smaller affiliates located mainly in the South and in the country’s heartland will be bolstered by increased resources that will enable them to hire full-time attorneys, launch new advocacy programs, and expand communications and public education initiatives.
“At a time when our country faces turbulent economic conditions and an uncertain political future, the ACLU is poised like no other advocacy organization to reclaim lost liberties and build a rights bulwark in battleground states where fundamental freedoms are most threatened,” said Romero.
The ACLU will also expand core programs and introduce new initiatives at both the national and local levels. The ACLU has made great strides recently, for example, by combining litigation with public education and advocacy at the federal, state, and local level through its “Safe and Free Program,” which helped combat post-9/11 warrantless spying by the federal government on innocent Americans, exposed the torture and abuse of detainees, and led to the enactment of hundreds of anti-Patriot Act resolutions across America.
The ACLU, in partnership with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, has also formed the John Adams Project to provide expert teams of civilian defense lawyers to assist the under-resourced military defense counsel assigned to Guantánamo detainees. The ACLU will continue to vigilantly monitor military commission proceedings to expose their fundamental deficiencies with the ultimate goal of shutting down Guantánamo and trying these cases in either the civilian justice system or in traditional military courts where constitutional protections apply.
The ACLU has taken its affirmative agenda to the state and local levels by, among other causes, championing marriage equality in California and gay rights in Tennessee, working to restore voting rights for ex-offenders in Florida, advocating for migrant workers’ rights in New Mexico, fighting the introduction of “intelligent design” curricula in Pennsylvania, defeating the use of national identity cards in Montana, overturning abortion bans in Mississippi, and ending profiling of Iraqis and other Arabs by law enforcement in Michigan.
The campaign is also intended to ensure the ACLU’s permanence and financial stability through the purchase of headquarters facilities in New York, Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and by securing commitments for more than $200 million in future income through planned gifts.
“While our local chapters across the country have achieved remarkable results, this campaign will provide them with the means and the tools to take the fight for civil right and liberties to new levels,” said Strossen.
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The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.