By Rebecca Dunn
One thing my husband, Bill, and I have come to understand about IJ is that when it faces a challenge, it rises to the occasion and exceeds expectations. IJ’s work over the past year to engage hundreds of IJ donors to meet the $10 million Bill and Rebecca Dunn Liberty Defense Fund challenge grant is no exception.
Bill and I have long believed that IJ is uniquely positioned to make a powerful impact on the course of our nation’s history. We know that unless government abides by the Constitution, our liberty will be at the mercy of politicians and government officials. And the best way to ensure that government is constrained by the limits placed upon it by the Founders is for courts to play their essential role, as Madison wrote, “an impenetrable bulwark against every assumption of power” by the legislative and executive branches.
That’s where IJ comes in—it files the right cases at the right time, and it litigates them with an inspirational joie de vivre. IJ is enormously effective, winning nearly three out of every four cases it files. So Bill and I worked with IJ in 2014 to come up with a challenge grant that would further increase IJ’s effectiveness as the “National Law Firm for Liberty.”
Our goal was twofold. First, we wanted to broaden IJ’s base of support. Specifically, we wanted to encourage new donors to give to IJ, existing donors to increase their support and lapsed donors to renew their support. A second and equally important goal was to encourage other IJ donors to make new challenge grants for the benefit of IJ. We saw the impact that similar challenge grants had at IJ and other organizations so, as part of our challenge to IJ, we asked that it share a copy of the Dunn Liberty Defense Fund grant agreement with other similarly situated donors to encourage them to issue their own challenge grants.
IJ announced the challenge grant at its Partners Retreat in Palm Beach last October, and IJ’s donors really stepped up to the plate! In less than a year, more than 250 donors had signed on, raising more than $15 million in new and increased support for IJ when combined with the matching funds from Bill and me as trustees of Dunn’s Foundation.
What this means is that IJ is well-positioned to serve as a leading legal advocate for liberty, and it will be able to sue more overreaching government officials than ever before.
Providing our challenge grant to IJ was an enormously rewarding experience. Bill and I are grateful to IJ for playing such an integral role in ensuring America lives up to its promise as a place where people from all walks of life can enjoy the benefits of freedom. We are also grateful to our fellow IJ donors for providing IJ with the financial wherewithal to succeed at this vitally important mission.
Rebecca Dunn and her husband Bill are Palm Beach philanthropists who have been IJ donors since 1994.