American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2022):

Revenue: $241,948,484
Expenses: $172,665,114
Assets: $824,812,518

Also Known As:

ACLU Foundation


Susan Herman

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation is the charitable-organization arm of the American Civil Liberties Union, a left-leaning activist organization.

The ACLU Foundation is an affiliate organization of the ACLU and mainly engages in the organization’s litigation and communication efforts1 while the ACLU proper, a 501(c)(4) lobbying organization, leads the organization’s lobbying and legislative work at the federal and state levels. 2


ACLU Foundation affiliates often argue social-liberal advocacy cases and bring civil rights lawsuits within their respective states. In one illustrative example, the ACLU Foundation helped represent Aimee Stephens in a lawsuit against her former employer, R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, for firing Stephens after announcing that she was transgender and would present herself as a female at work. After Stephens’s death in May 2020, Stephens’s estate continued the case, resulting in a settlement of $130,000 to Stephens’s estate and $120,000 to the ACLU Foundation for court and attorney’s fees. 3


The organization’s tax returns for 2018 reported over $205 million in total revenue, over $59 million more in revenue than the previous year. 4

The ACLU Foundation frequently provides grants to state-level affiliate organizations. According to 2018 tax returns, the ACLU Foundation provided the ACLU Foundation of Texas with a $315,000 grant and also provided a $375,000 grant to the ACLU Foundation of Mississippi, among other grants. 5

The ACLU Foundation receives contributions from several corporate supporters. In 2020, after Black Lives Matter-inspired protests across the country, a number of corporate entities pledged to support organizations that promote civil liberties, including the ACLU Foundation. Amazon announced a $10 million donation spread amongst a number of left leaning organizations such as the ACLU Foundation, Black Lives Matter, and the NAACP. 6

In 2020, Conagra Brands Foundation announced that it was partnering with the ACLU Foundation, as well as United Way, for a national employee fundraising campaign called “United For Change” with the goal of alleviating poverty and advancing civil liberties. 7

In addition to corporate pledges, the ACLU Foundation also accepts individual donations. Notably, former hedge fund manager David Gelbaum gave more than $90 million to the ACLU Foundation between 2005 and 2009. 8 Gelbaum, who co-founded Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, a left-of-center dark money organization, has also gifted more than $100 million to the Sierra Club, an environmental activist group. 9

During the 2020 presidential election, the ACLU sent out a press release claiming that it had contributed roughly $463 million to political candidates, committees, and Super PACs connected to the Democratic Party while donating $19 million to those affiliated with the Republican party. This included $1.7 million towards then-president Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. The press release also claimed that contributions from ACLU and its supports amounted to “between 20 and 30 percent of all Democratic fundraising” during the 2020 election. 10

In October 2022, Sherly Sandberg, the former COO of social media company Meta, donated roughly $3 million to the ACLU Foundation for the purpose of, “protecting abortion access” at the state level. 11

According to their 2022 990 tax form, the ACLU Foundation reported Expenses at $186,334,190, Revenue at $201,181,635, and its Total Assets at $785,630,158. 12 In addition, the 2022 tax form showed the ACLU Foundation provided grants towards several state ACLU Foundation affiliates, including $912,000 to the ACLU Foundation of Virginia and $1,709,475 to the ACLU Foundation of Florida. 13


The ACLU and the ACLU Foundation share essential staff and executive leadership members. Anthony Romero is the executive director of the ACLU and ACLU Foundation as of 2024. 14 Romero also serves as a board member for Ariel Investments. He previously served with the Ford Foundation as well as the Rockefeller Foundation. 15

Deborah Archer is the president of the ACLU Foundation as well as its main 501(c)(4) arm the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), replacing Susan Herman in 2021. She has served on the board since 2009 and also serves on the board for the New York Civil Liberties Union. 16


  1. “Difference between ACLU and ACLU Foundation.” ACLU of Colorado. July 05, 2020. Accessed December 16, 2020.
  2. Rep. ACLU Annual Report 2020. American Civil Liberties Union, 2020.
  3. Ring, Trudy. “Funeral Home That Fired Aimee Stephens Must Pay $250K to Estate, ACLU.” ADVOCATE., December 1, 2020.
  4. American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2018
  5. American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2018
  6. “Factbox: Corporations Pledge $1.7 Billion to Address Racism, Injustice.” Reuters. Reuters, June 10, 2020.
  7. “Conagra Brands Foundation Partners with United Way and American Civil Liberties Union Foundation for ‘United For Change’ Campaign.” PR Newswire, October 26, 2020.
  8. “Largest Anonymous ACLU Donor Reveals Identity And Reaffirms Support For Organization.” American Civil Liberties Union, December 9, 2009.
  9. Ludwig, Hayden. “Wellspring Philanthropic: An Ocean of ‘Dark Money’ on the Left.” Capital Research Center. Capital Research Center, December 12, 2019.
  10. “Press Release: ACLU Supporters Contribute $482 Million in Political Giving to Both Parties.” ACLU, August 13, 2020.
  11. “ACLU Announces Multiyear Donation from Sheryl Sandberg to Protect Abortion Access Nationwide.” ACLU, October 4, 2022.
  12. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). American Civil Liberties Union Foundation Inc. 2022. Part I.
  13. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). American Civil Liberties Union Foundation Inc. 2022. Schedule I, Part II.
  14. “Anthony D. Romero.” American Civil Liberties Union, November 7, 2020.
  15.  “Anthony Romero.” LinkedIn, Accessed February 20, 2024.
  16. “Deborah Archer.” LinkedIn, Accessed February 20, 2024.

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Anthony Romero
    Executive Director

Donor Organizations

  1. Aaron and Martha Schecter Private Foundation (SHIFT) (Non-profit)
  2. Angell Foundation (Non-profit)
  3. Annie E. Casey Foundation (Non-profit)
  4. Arcus Foundation (Non-profit)
  5. Carnegie Corporation of New York (Non-profit)
  6. Craigslist Charitable Fund (Non-profit)
  7. Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation (Non-profit)
  8. David and Lucile Packard Foundation (Non-profit)
  9. Diller Foundation (Non-profit)
  10. Educational Foundation of America (EFA) (Non-profit)
  11. Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund (Non-profit)
  12. Falcon Foundation (Non-profit)
  13. Falconwood Foundation (Non-profit)
  14. Fidelity Investments Charitable Gift Fund (Non-profit)
  15. Flora Family Foundation (Non-profit)
  16. Ford Foundation (Non-profit)
  17. Foundation to Decrease World Suck (Non-profit)
  18. Foundation to Promote Open Society (FPOS) (Non-profit)
  19. George Gund Foundation (Non-profit)
  20. Gerbode Foundation (Non-profit)
  21. Gill Foundation (Non-profit)
  22. Global Village Charitable Trust (Non-profit)
  23. Grove Foundation (Non-profit)
  24. Hilda Mullen Foundation (Non-profit)
  25. Hillman Family Foundations (Non-profit)
  26. Huber Foundation (Non-profit)
  27. Hull Family Foundation (Non-profit)
  28. Jacob & Valeria Langeloth Foundation (Non-profit)
  29. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (Non-profit)
  30. John Pritzker Family Fund (Non-profit)
  31. JPB Foundation (Non-profit)
  32. Kaphan Foundation (Non-profit)
  33. Laura and John Arnold Foundation (Non-profit)
  34. Leon Levy Foundation (Non-profit)
  35. Leonard & Sophie Davis Fund (Non-profit)
  36. Lewis Foundation (Non-profit)
  37. Liberty Hill Foundation (Non-profit)
  38. Libra Foundation (Non-profit)
  39. Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund (Non-profit)
  40. Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation (Non-profit)
  41. Make Yourself Foundation (Non-profit)
  42. Mariposa Foundation (Non-profit)
  43. Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation (Non-profit)
  44. Morningstar Foundation (Non-profit)
  45. Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (Non-profit)
  46. NEO Philanthropy (Non-profit)
  47. Newman’s Own Foundation (Non-profit)
  48. NoVo Foundation (Non-profit)
  49. Oak Foundation USA (Non-profit)
  50. Oak Hill Fund (Non-profit)
  51. Orr Family Foundation (Non-profit)
  52. Overbrook Foundation (Non-profit)
  53. Padosi Foundation (Non-profit)
  54. Proteus Fund (Non-profit)
  55. Public Welfare Foundation (Non-profit)
  56. Puffin Foundation (Non-profit)
  57. Rockefeller Brothers Fund (Non-profit)
  58. Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation (Non-profit)
  59. Sagner Family Foundation (Non-profit)
  60. San Francisco Foundation (Non-profit)
  61. Sandler Foundation (Non-profit)
  62. Scherman Foundation (Non-profit)
  63. Schwab Charitable Fund (Non-profit)
  64. Sherwood Foundation (Non-profit)
  65. Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) (Non-profit)
  66. Skoll Global Threats Fund (Non-profit)
  67. Soros Fund Charitable Foundation (Non-profit)
  68. Stainman Family Foundation (Non-profit)
  69. Sunlight Giving (Non-profit)
  70. Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (STBF) (Non-profit)
  71. Tara Health Foundation (Non-profit)
  72. Unbound Philanthropy (Non-profit)
  73. Van Ameringen Foundation (Non-profit)
  74. Vital Projects Fund (Non-profit)
  75. W. K. Kellogg Foundation (Non-profit)
  76. Walter and Elise Haas Fund (Non-profit)
  77. William B. Wiener Jr. Foundation (Non-profit)
  78. Yellow Chair Foundation (Non-profit)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: March - February
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 1967

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2022 Mar Form 990 $241,948,484 $172,665,114 $824,812,518 $166,048,482 Y $213,682,199 $2,459,308 $3,760,159 $3,698,165
    2021 Mar Form 990 $241,839,843 $173,082,558 $735,145,148 $148,331,047 Y $227,368,352 $3,069,802 $2,912,466 $3,690,417
    2020 Mar Form 990 $185,480,203 $141,347,817 $501,661,278 $112,132,890 Y $176,437,112 $6,034,520 $4,904,600 $2,662,716 PDF
    2019 Mar Form 990 $205,432,828 $140,703,350 $496,522,911 $125,028,500 Y $156,940,567 $4,044,444 $4,903,979 $2,910,341 PDF
    2018 Mar Form 990 $146,251,550 $115,464,165 $452,805,832 $110,180,308 Y $134,420,043 $2,695,991 $7,057,609 $2,884,093
    2017 Mar Form 990 $152,178,320 $120,961,465 $400,374,277 $103,148,329 N $140,053,645 $4,139,323 $5,258,513 $2,838,648 PDF
    2016 Mar Form 990 $95,262,843 $84,257,642 $341,682,167 $96,033,380 N $89,472,041 $5,422,660 $5,032,838 $2,401,540 PDF
    2015 Mar Form 990 $94,047,925 $85,678,343 $327,600,267 $85,866,394 N $79,581,425 $3,842,201 $6,324,359 $2,535,104 PDF
    2014 Mar Form 990 $70,273,661 $89,345,364 $323,917,302 $75,288,892 N $55,110,331 $2,504,624 $6,594,948 $2,657,909 PDF
    2013 Mar Form 990 $68,163,629 $74,213,958 $337,785,400 $70,638,510 N $52,043,425 $2,333,073 $5,730,675 $2,550,849 PDF
    2012 Mar Form 990 $80,607,745 $71,535,506 $341,064,393 $68,191,565 Y $58,074,573 $2,374,888 $6,102,731 $2,656,635 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation

    NEW YORK, NY 10004-2400