The ACLU is comprised of 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 that the ACLU have two separate organizations in order for the ACLU to do a broad range of work in protecting civil liberties. This website collectively refers to the two organizations under the name “ACLU.”
Although there is some overlap in the work done by each organization, certain activities the ACLU does to protect civil liberties must be done by one organization and not the other. This is primarily in the area of lobbying. The American Civil Liberties Union engages in legislative lobbying. As an organization that is eligible to receive contributions that are tax-deductible by the contributor, federal law limits the extent to which the ACLU Foundation’s may engage in lobbying activities. Therefore, most of the lobbying activity done by the ACLU and discussed in this Web site is done by the American Civil Liberties Union. By contrast, most of the ACLU’s litigation and communication efforts described in this Web site are done by the ACLU Foundation.
You may make a contribution to either 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. However, each organization will only use the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the specific activities it conducts as part of the overall ACLU mission. A donor may make a tax-deductible gift only to the ACLU Foundation. A donor who chooses to “Join” and become a card-carrying member of the ACLU is making a contribution to the American Civil Liberties Union. Membership dues and other gifts to the American Civil Liberties Union are not tax deductible.