How the ACLU Became Central to the #Resist Movement

January 30, 2017 Robyn Mendez

Over the weekend, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) received $24,164,691 from 356,306 online donations. To put this surge of donations into perspective, the ACLU raised a total of $4M last year.

In one weekend, the ACLU raised 6x what they raised in all of 2016.

This massive increase in donations is a reflection of how passionate people are feeling in these divided times. No matter where we fall in the political spectrum, it’s important for us as fundraisers to keep an eye on the issues and the news so that we’re ready to act when donations might be spurred.

Here’s How the ACLU Became Central to the #Resist Movement:

1. News Broke About the Executive Order

In this case, the President of the United States issued an executive order banning immigrant entry into the U.S. from specific countries, which resulted in immigrants being detained at U.S. airports and other airports across the world. This sparked outrage and triggered protests at airports nationwide.

2. The Organization Became Affiliated With the Cause

The ACLU immediately responded—ready to take on any civil liberties violationsand demonstrated quick results on the front lines.

According to their CEO, it was the ACLU lawyers who filed the lawsuit that was upheld on Saturday night, blocking Trump’s ban on Muslims. And they’ve proudly displayed this message on the front page of their website and across social media channels like Twitter and Facebook.

3. The Call to Action Was Clear

During a time when so many were wondering how they could contribute to the cause in a meaningful way, the ACLU provided an easy solution.


ACLU Donation Button


Their call to action is simple: You want to join the fight? Donate now.

During times of crisis, it’s paramount that you make it easy for supporters to take action. Think, also, about how you can tie the call to action to the overall message of the movement. In this case, the ACLU let supporters know that by donating they are directly contributing to the fight for immigrants’ rights.

4. Influencers Were Mobilized

We’ve heard from experts about the importance of influencers before, but at an increasing rate we’re seeing just how crucial they can be for your cause during a time of crisis. A little over a year ago, social media expert Austin Graff shared about his experience building an influencer program at International Justice Mission (IJM).

Not only did we reach out to our existing influencers asking them to sign and share on social media, but we got in the weeds and researched which IJM followers on Twitter had significant followings of their own. We then tweeted at them and got their e-mail addresses. Literally, hundreds of new influencers shared about the campaign. And they did it all for free. – Austin Graff

And today we’re seeing just how impactful these high-net-worked individuals have been to the spreading of ACLU’s message. Sia tweeted a $100K matching donation to get her fan-based motivated and then Rosie O’Donnell followed with an additional $100K matching donation.

help our queer & immigrant friends. send me your donation receipts for the @aclu & I will match up to $100K #RESIST

— sia (@Sia) January 28, 2017

and i will match your 100K donation sia – #resist

— ROSIE (@Rosie) January 29, 2017

Then  Sarah Paulson promotes  the ACLU in her SAG award acceptance speech.

The primary lesson at this point is preparedness.

The ACLU had the systems and infrastructure in place to move quickly. It was the weekend, but their lawyers, development staff, and marketing team were on the front lines fighting for their cause and ready to mobilize all those who wanted to fight with them.

The #resist movement is far from finished, and it will be important for this sector to watch how the surge in giving impacts the ACLU’s mission and also charitable giving over all. As we saw with the #IceBucketChallenge, the donations didn’t move the needed for charitable giving as a whole, but we did see that incredible things can happen when an army of generous and caring citizens come together for good.

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