Donor Alert: 'ACLJ' Is Two Charities Dominated by One Family - 2017-07-19
Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (CASE), which according to its mission "is specifically dedicated to the ideal that religious freedom and freedom of speech are inalienable, God given rights," raised over $51 million in total cash contributions in 2015. More than 70% of that $51 million came via direct mail and telemarketing services provided by professional fundraisers. Perhaps you have been solicited through the mail or over the phone to give to CASE. That name, however, may not be ringing a bell since CASE goes by "American Center for Law and Justice" or "ACLJ" to raise funds (not to be confused with the "ACLU," American Civil Liberties Union, a distinctly different organization).
It is not at all strange for a charity to use a "doing business as" name that differs from its official name, as CASE does by using ACLJ. What is odd – and quite confusing – in CASE's case is that there is another charity that has the official name American Center for Law and Justice. That charity, which describes that it "is committed to ensuring the ongoing viability of freedom and liberty in the United States and around the world," was founded by the televangelist Pat Robertson, who continues to serve as its board president. The officially named American Center for Law and Justice lists "ACLJ - National" as its "doing business as" name on its tax forms, but it also lists the exact same website, www.aclj.org, as CASE. Essentially, CASE and ACLJ - National are both "ACLJ" to the public, and the similarities between the two charities do not end there.
An analysis of the CASE and ACLJ - National financial audits and tax forms brings to light a number of connections that make CharityWatch question how the two charities can be operating as separate entities, or in the least, how they are not being reported as related organizations. A straight-forward connection between the two ACLJs is that ACLJ - National relies on CASE for the vast majority of its funding. In fact, 93% of ACLJ - National's total revenue in fiscal 2016 (ending March 31st) came from grants by CASE. From CASE's side, the more than $16.8 million it granted to ACLJ - National in 2015 represented close to 61% of CASE's cash-based program spending (less joint solicitation costs) for its fiscal year ending December 31st. The fact that almost all of ACLJ - National's funding comes through CASE and not directly from the general public is the reason why CharityWatch provides a rating for CASE, but not for ACLJ - National. Nevertheless, donors to CASE should be aware of its funding commitment to ACLJ - National, which includes a grant agreement requiring weekly payments of $338,500 by CASE (or approximately $17 million a year), according to ACLJ - National's fiscal 2016 audit.