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Pacific Legal Foundation

CharityWatch report issued
May 2021

CharityWatch Grade
This rating has been downgraded from A- due to the charity having 3.4 years worth of available assets in reserve.
Program Percentage
Amount spent on programs
relative to overhead.
Cost to Raise $100
Amount spent to raise
$100 of contributions.

Large Asset Reserves

CharityWatch reduces the grade of any charity that has available assets equal to three to five years of operating expenses. Charities with "years of available assets" of more than five years receive an "F" grade regardless of other measurements. In CharityWatch's view, a reserve of less than three years is reasonable and does not affect a charity's grade. These reductions in grades are based solely on the charities' asset reserves as compared to budget. The CharityWatch definition of "years of available assets" includes funds currently available for the charity's use, including investments that the charity has set aside as a reserve but could choose to spend if it wanted to do so. Pacific Legal Foundation's letter grade rating has been downgraded because it has 3 or more years of available assets.

See Our Process to learn more about how CharityWatch considers a charity’s asset reserves and the High Asset List for a list of charities whose ratings have been reduced due to high assets.

Contact Information

Pacific Legal Foundation
930 G Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Other Names


Tax Status


Stated Mission

Litigates nationwide to secure all Americans' inalienable rights to live responsibility & productively in their pursuit of happiness; combines strategic & principled litigation, communications, and research to achieve landmark court victories enforcing the Constitution's guarantee of individual liberty.

View similar charities
Data based on Fiscal Year Ended 06/30/2020

Program Percentage: 76%

The percentage of Pacific Legal Foundation's cash budget it spends on programs relative to overhead (fundraising, management, and general expenses).


Calculated Total Expenses



Cost to Raise $100: $16

How many dollars Pacific Legal Foundation spends on fundraising to raise each $100 of contributions.


Calculated Total Contributions


Joint Costs

Pacific Legal Foundation's rating was adjusted for Joint Costs. If you are a donor who considers direct mail, telemarketing, and other Joint Cost solicitations to be true charitable programs, the below efficiency ratios, which were not adjusted for joint costs, may better reflect your goals.

Program % Cost to Raise $100
77% $15
Accounting rules allow charities to report some telemarketing, direct mail, and other solicitation costs as Program expenses. CharityWatch believes that most donors do not consider a charity's solicitation activities to be the Programs they are intending to support with their donations. We therefore adjust such expenses out of a charity's reported Program expense and add it to Fundraising expense prior to calculating its rating.

Government Funding

0% to 24%

Percentage of cash revenue
coming from government sources


Financial Documents

Entity Document Type Tax ID
Pacific Legal Foundation IRS Form 990 94-2197343
Pacific Legal Foundation Audited Consolidated Financial Statements Multiple
Entity: Pacific Legal Foundation
Document Type: IRS Form 990
Tax ID: 94-2197343
Entity: Pacific Legal Foundation
Document Type: Audited Consolidated Financial Statements
Tax ID: Multiple

Governance & Transparency

CharityWatch evaluates certain criteria related to a charity's Governance and Transparency. Donors may want to consider a charity's willingness to be open and transparent with CharityWatch to be a good litmus test for determining its commitment to public accountability.
Pacific Legal Foundation
meets governance benchmarks.
Pacific Legal Foundation
meets transparency benchmarks.
Provides Financial Information
Audit Accessibility
Governance: Policies
Reports regularly & consistently monitoring & enforcing compliance with a written Conflict of Interest Policy
Reports required, annual disclosure by officers, directors, and key staff of interests that could give rise to conflicts
Reports having a written Whistleblower Policy
Reports having a written Document Retention and Destruction Policy
Governance: Financials
Reports providing copy of tax form to all board members prior to filing it with IRS
Reports that financial statements were audited by an independent accountant
Governance: Board of Directors
Reports at least 5 voting board members
51% or more of voting board members reported as independent
Reports documenting minutes of board and board committee meetings
Privacy Policy
Privacy Policy

  Name Title Compensation
1 Steven D. Anderson President/CEO $525,043
2 John M. Groen Executive VP/General Counsel $332,522
3 James S. Burling VP Legal Affairs $312,424
Name: Steven D. Anderson
Title: President/CEO
Compensation: $525,043
Name: John M. Groen
Title: Executive VP/General Counsel
Compensation: $332,522
Name: James S. Burling
Title: VP Legal Affairs
Compensation: $312,424

CharityWatch Analysts perform an in-depth analysis of charities' audited financial statements and IRS tax filings, and often review other documents such as state filings, annual reports, and fundraising contracts during their evaluations. Below are select notes that CharityWatch believes may be of interest to donors.

According to the Pacific Legal Foundation consolidated audit of June 30, 2020 (Note 2 re: Subsequent events):

"Subsequent events have been evaluated through the [date of] October 13, 2020 [when] the financial statements were issued. As a result of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, economic uncertainties have arisen which may negatively impact income. Other financial impact could occur though such potential impact is unknown at this time."

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