A Dozen Years Later Investment in IJ Pays Off
By Chip Mellor
When we started more than 12 years ago, IJ was a very different organization. Meetings of the entire staff could comfortably take place in my small office. We had one case and one donor. We had no publications, no website and no organizational name recognition. No systems were in place, so doing almost anything involved an adventure of uncertain outcome.
But we did have lots of entrepreneurial energy and a passion for our work. That energy and passion remains undiluted, but so much else has changed.
Today, IJ is an institution far more sophisticated and efficient in its operation than Clint and I ever dared dream. From staff meetings in my office, we now have conference calls bringing together state chapters and our Clinic on Entrepreneur-ship. We have grown from one donor to more than 9,000, with no single donor providing more than seven percent of our $6.5 million annual budget. Our caseload has mushroomed not only in quantity, but also in impact. Our publications and website have won numerous awards. And the response of bureaucrats when we come to town testifies to the hard-won name recognition and national reputation we have earned.
In hindsight, the path to where we are today may seem pretty smooth and straight. But of course, it wasn’t at the time. We had to take calculated risks, not the least of which was pitting our bright, idealistic, but very young staff against powerful and entrenched interests. Despite urgings from some to hire more experienced or senior people, we were convinced that in the long run, growing our own talent, immersed in the IJ Way, would yield a strong organization with advocates for liberty second to none. Today as you read Liberty & Law, peruse our website or witness IJ attorneys featured in national media, you can see this was a risk well worth taking.
The investment of our donors made possible the growth and transformation of IJ. For that we are enormously grateful. We encourage all of our friends and supporters to visit our headquarters in Washington, our state chapters in Washington state and Arizona, or our IJ Clinic on Entrepreneurship in Chicago whenever you are in the neighborhood. You’ll experience first hand the pulse and strength of the organization. And you’ll meet the people who have grown with us—the people you read about and the folks who work tirelessly behind the scenes.
In the meantime, we need your support to take IJ to new heights. Please, today, make a year-end contribution that will enable us to take full advantage of all IJ has to offer in the fight for liberty.
Thank you and Happy Holidays!
Chip Mellor is IJ’s president and general counsel.
Institute for Justice Functional Expense Snapshot FY92-FY03 Download in PDF