By Melanie Hildreth
If you invested in gold in 1991, you’re probably pretty happy today. (In fact, maybe you retired early and are reading this on the beach.) What about if you began donating to IJ in 1991? What do you have to show for it today?
To start, you would have helped save more than 16,000 properties from eminent domain abuse, improved property rights laws in 43 states, helped 810,000 children get into school choice programs, earned 20 awards for public relations that share the message of liberty and had five cases heard before the U.S. Supreme Court—two cases this year alone.
More than that, though, you would have been part of building an entirely new way of litigating public interest cases that results in success for individual liberty, against steep odds, 70 percent of the time.
After 20 remarkably successful years, IJ has a lot to look forward to, and our donors can rest assured that the funds they give to IJ will be used wisely and effectively in the next 20 years and beyond.
Here are a few ways we take care of your investment in IJ:
We are principled. We are guided by the principles of liberty laid out in the Constitution and articulated by thinkers like Jefferson, Hayek, Friedman and Rand. We never succumb to political expediency or jump on the bandwagon of popular causes to earn extra attention or money. This dedication to principle allows us to have an impact that far exceeds our size.
We maintain the same open and honest relationship with our supporters that we have among our staff and with our clients and the media. We want you to know the organization you are investing in, whether it is with year-to-year support, a multi-year pledge or a gift through your will or trust. You are always welcome to stop by our offices to see in person what you are helping make possible.
Our board of directors ensures that candidates for membership on the board demonstrate the highest dedication to our mission. Board membership has remained select and consistent, and attendance at board meetings is exceptional—it is rare for a member to miss a meeting. In addition, every member is active in IJ’s governance, approving each case we file in addition to overseeing our growth and finances.
We hire staff who internalize our mission and culture; this is particularly true of our senior staff. As a result, people who come to IJ tend to stay and make a career here. For example, the average tenure of our vice presidents and senior attorneys, to date, is 12.2 years. This continuity helps ensure consistency in the way we pursue all aspects of our strategic litigation.
We are accountable. We strive to answer donors’ questions and always report on the expenditures of funds (including here in Liberty & Law). Each year, IJ is audited by an independent auditing firm. Our Form 990 and audited financial statements are available on our website. And we have earned nine consecutive 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator; this puts us in the top one percent of charities evaluated, and indicates that we consistently execute our mission in a fiscally responsible way that, according to Charity Navigator, “outperforms most other charities in America.”
Your investment in IJ is secure, and it is paying dividends. Our first 20 years have demonstrated that you can feel confident that the organization you support today is going to be here and advancing individual liberty for years to come. Thank you for being part of our success.
Melanie Hildreth is the Institute's director of donor relations.