Last Friday President Donald Trump signed an executive order to prevent citizens and refugees of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, spurring protests in airports across the country as well as a surge in donations to groups including the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center, and the International Rescue Committee. The executive order bars citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for ninety days, and suspends entry for Syrian refugees indefinitely. Consequently, refugees already in transit to the United States were detained upon arrival.
The ACLU has been a prominent figure in opposition to the new administration’s immigration policies, and saw an immediate mobilization from donors after the order was enacted. Over the following weekend, the ACLU received more than $24 million from over 350,000 supporters, with close to two-thirds donating to the organization for the first time. Executive Director Anthony D. Romero referred to the surge as “the Trump effect,” telling The New York Times that Trump’s latest order “has hit a live nerve with the American people.” At one point during the weekend, the ACLU website crashed from the outpouring of donations.
This event continues the trend observed since the November election, with many nonprofits experiencing an all-time high in their fundraising efforts as they posture to oppose the new administration and brace for anticipated changes. Some of these concerns have already come to fruition, as Trump signed a spate of controversial executive orders within his first week in office regarding refugee entry, the construction of a border wall, a federal hiring freeze, and support for the Dakota Access and Keystone Pipelines.
Groups such as the the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Sierra Club, and the ACLU are working to escalate their advocacy efforts, enabled by the rapid increase in giving. The Council on American-Islamic Relations is launching a $5 million defense fund against ethnic and religious discrimination and deportations. The Sierra Club has begun funding legal opposition to rollbacks on environmental regulations. And the ACLU plans to hire up to one hundred new employees in 2017.