The Rutherford Institute/ John Whitehead

The information on this page was last updated 2/3/2022. If you see errors or omissions, please email: [email protected]


The Rutherford Institute is an international legal and educational organization dedicated to preserving human rights and defending civil liberties. The Institute exists to fight for those who cannot defend themselves, speak for those whose voices cannot be heard, and contend for those who do not have the strength to fight for what has been taken from them. Deeply committed to protecting the constitutional freedoms of every American and the integral human rights of all people, Institute attorneys and staff work to ensure that when people's human rights are violated, they are treated fairly in the courts and are free to express their beliefs without fear of further recrimination or persecution. To further this goal, the Institute defends those in need without charging them for such services. The Institute's multi-faceted approach of integrating litigation and educational opportunities has made it a formidable leader in defending and teaching the Constitution. The defense of civil liberties and human rights through litigation and education are at the heart of the Institute's purpose.

Contact information

Mailing address:
The Rutherford Institute
PO Box 7482
Charlottesville, VA 22906-7482


Phone: (434) 978-3888

Email: [email protected]

Organization details

EIN: 521267484

CEO/President: Mr. John W. Whitehead

Chairman: Mr. John W. Whitehead

Board size: 6

Founder: Mr. John W. Whitehead

Ruling year: 1985

Tax deductible: Yes

Fiscal year end: 06/30

Member of ECFA: No

Member of ECFA since:


Here at The Rutherford Institute, we believe that the best defense against tyranny is an educated citizenry that knows their rights and is prepared to stand up for them. That's why we continue to sound the alarm over threats to our freedoms and help Americans push back against the government's heavy-handed tyranny on almost every front.

Mission statement

The Institute's mission is twofold: to provide legal services in the defense of civil liberties and to educate the public on important issues affecting their constitutional freedoms. The Institute provides its legal services at no charge to those whose constitutional and human rights have been threatened or violated.

Statement of faith

Donor confidence score

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Transparency grade


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Financial efficiency ratings

Sector: Advocacy

CategoryRatingOverall rankSector rank
Overall efficiency rating21 of 10332 of 42
Fund acquisition rating126 of 10352 of 42
Resource allocation rating15 of 10353 of 42
Asset utilization rating123 of 10338 of 42

Click here to read The Rutherford Institute/ John Whitehead's response to our ratings

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Balance sheet
Receivables, inventories, prepaids$21,778$127,707$62,749$74,993$78,799
Short-term investments$20,000$70,000$70,794$24,740$27,691
Other current assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total current assets$363,158$211,080$152,506$132,672$245,291
Long-term investments$0$0$0$82,808$0
Fixed assets$1,842$5,778$10,678$13,886$23,492
Other long-term assets$2,042$602$7,740$7,840$7,940
Total long-term assets$3,884$6,380$18,418$104,534$31,432
Total assets$367,042$217,460$170,924$237,206$276,723
Payables and accrued expenses$28,331$64,079$69,503$65,685$91,903
Other current liabilities$5,325$16,566$15,309$21,255$20,473
Total current liabilities$33,656$80,645$84,812$86,940$112,376
Due to (from) affiliates$0$0$0$0$0
Other long-term liabilities$66,677$65,040$65,040$75,229$105,299
Total long-term liabilities$191,834$93,040$65,040$75,229$105,299
Total liabilities$225,490$173,685$149,852$162,169$217,675
Net assets20202019201820172016
Without donor restrictions$141,552$43,775$21,072$75,037$59,048
With donor restrictions$0$0$0$0$0
Net assets$141,552$43,775$21,072$75,037$59,048
Revenues and expenses
Total contributions$1,232,561$1,419,711$1,406,899$1,627,037$2,420,871
Program service revenue$1,738$5,187$16,754$12,243$14,230
Membership dues$0$0$0$0$0
Investment income$9,740($461)$13,450$11,717($3,692)
Other revenue$16,989$272$668$302$441
Total other revenue$28,467$4,998$30,872$24,262$10,979
Total revenue$1,261,028$1,424,709$1,437,771$1,651,299$2,431,850
Program services$1,107,111$1,334,421$1,416,459$1,542,890$2,371,028
Management and general$35,110$34,569$51,739$61,302$72,641
Total expenses$1,163,251$1,402,006$1,491,736$1,635,310$2,478,925
Change in net assets20202019201820172016
Surplus (deficit)$97,777$22,703($53,965)$15,989($47,075)
Other changes in net assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total change in net assets$97,777$22,703($53,965)$15,989($47,075)


John WhiteheadChairman$229,781

Compensation data as of: 6/30/2020

Response from ministry

The Rutherford Institute is an IRS Code 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia.

John W. Whitehead founded the Institute in 1982 because he saw that the people who needed help the most couldn't afford the legal costs to get to the courtroom. Whitehead envisioned an organization that would work to ensure that when people's human rights are violated, they are treated fairly in the courts and are free to express their beliefs without fear of further recrimination or persecution. The Institute's vision and commitment continue to focus on helping those whose liberties are in jeopardy and making a difference in the world in which we live.

To further this goal, the Institute defends those in need without charging them for such services. Through a national network of over 500 participating volunteer attorneys, the Institute has litigated hundreds of court cases at every level of the state and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court, in defense of our God-given freedoms. Institute attorneys and staff have led the way in defending the constitutional and human rights of all people. The Institute remains committed to protecting the fundamental rights of all individuals to freedom of religion, free speech and freedom from government oppression and intrusion.

As an organization that continues to meet the stringent standards set by the Better Business Bureau for nonprofits, the Institute strives to conduct its ministry and financial affairs with integrity and openness. While The Rutherford Institute welcomes inquiries regarding its stewardship of donor contributions and is happy to supply the public with copies of its annual financial disclosure statements and President's Report upon request, we are concerned that the efficiency ratings promulgated by Wall Watchers may prove unhelpful and potentially misleading to those visiting the site and unfamiliar with the ministries rated.

We note at the outset that similar legal ministries to The Rutherford Institute are not even listed on the Wall Watchers website. Further, we do not believe that dissimilar organizations, with widely disparate missions, operating structures and means of defining effectiveness, can be compared in any meaningful way by a ranking system such as the one you utilize. Should an individual truly wish to learn more about the work and fiscal stewardship of The Rutherford Institute, we would encourage them to visit our own website,, or contact our Financial Coordinator at [email protected]

The information below was provided to MinistryWatch by the ministry itself. It was last updated 2/3/2022. To update the information below, please email: [email protected]


Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead established The Rutherford Institute in 1982. Since that time, the Institute has developed into one of the nation's leading advocates of civil liberties and human rights, litigating in the courts and educating the public on a wide spectrum of issues affecting individual freedom in the United States and around the world. The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose international headquarters are located in Charlottesville, Virginia, is comprised of a small full-time staff and a network of volunteer attorneys across the United States.

Program accomplishments

The following represent program accomplishments of The Rutherford Institute:

  • 2,571 requests for legal assistance were handled by Rutherford Institute staff, and 71 cases involving violations of civil and human rights moved through various stages of pre-litigation and litigation, including 3 cases that were appealed directly to the United States Supreme Court.
  • Institute staff provided training and support to a national affiliate network of over 1,810 volunteer attorneys, many of whom were trained and educated on pertinent case law and provided with research support and funding for court expenses in order to defend cases in their region and field of law.
  • Approximately 2,413 newspaper outlets and press contacts received alerts on Institute cases and breaking news.
  • More than 8,968 radio stations and outlets received and broadcast our public service messages to people around the world, alerting them to issues and cases affecting their freedoms.
  • More than 16,000 individuals signed the Institute's God Bless America petition, urging our leaders in Congress to take a stand to protect the right of all Americans to proclaim, "God Bless America!"
  • The Institute's website,, received more than 10 million hits from individuals seeking news updates, pertinent commentaries and in-depth legal information about the fight for freedom taking place in and out of the courts.
  • More than 10,818 individuals who requested a complimentary copy of the Institute's Pocket Constitution were educated about their right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."