First Liberty Institute

The information on this page was last updated 5/7/2024. If you see errors or omissions, please email: [email protected]


First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious liberty for all Americans. We believe that every American of any faith-or no faith at all-has a fundamental right to follow their conscience and live according to their beliefs.

Our nation's Founding Fathers established this right as our First Freedom nearly two and a half centuries ago, and we intend to keep it that way.

Contact information

Mailing address:
First Liberty Institute
2001 West Plano Parkway, Suite 1600
Plano, TX 75075


Phone: (972) 941-4444

Email: [email protected]

Organization details

EIN: 751403169

CEO/President: Kelly Shackelford

Chairman: Mark Cover

Board size: 12

Founder: Kelly Shackelford

Ruling year: 1973

Tax deductible: Yes

Fiscal year end: 06/30

Member of ECFA: Yes

Member of ECFA since: 2008


Religious freedom is the first freedom outlined in the First Amendment of the Constitution, and for good reason: it is the foundational right that all others are built upon. And if this cornerstone freedom ever falls, all other freedoms would be at risk of tumbling as well. That's why protecting and defending it is so important-because to fight for religious freedom is to fight for the future of all freedoms.

As our second President John Adams once said: "A constitution of government once changed from freedom can never be restored." Many in today's society are moving against this "constitution of freedom," and it is our duty to not only safeguard this liberty today-but to equip the next generation to defend it tomorrow.

Mission statement

Our mission is to defend and restore religious liberty in our schools, for our churches and houses of worship, inside the military, and throughout the public arena.

Statement of faith

Donor confidence score

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Transparency grade


To understand our transparency grade, click here.

Financial efficiency ratings

Sector: Advocacy

CategoryRatingOverall rankSector rank
Overall efficiency rating695 of 111220 of 41
Fund acquisition rating662 of 111325 of 41
Resource allocation rating609 of 111322 of 41
Asset utilization rating619 of 111220 of 41

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Balance sheet
Receivables, inventories, prepaids$827,312$859,738$1,158,541$126,701$503,057
Short-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Other current assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total current assets$21,686,229$20,715,995$14,718,534$10,591,274$7,554,150
Long-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Fixed assets$216,341$37,548$95,558$201,115$237,367
Other long-term assets$2,793,109$488,060$387,089$292,493$23,344
Total long-term assets$3,009,450$525,608$482,647$493,608$260,711
Total assets$24,695,679$21,241,603$15,201,181$11,084,882$7,814,861
Payables and accrued expenses$871,854$182,868$269,172$401,010$318,393
Other current liabilities$0$0$0$0$0
Total current liabilities$871,854$182,868$269,172$401,010$318,393
Due to (from) affiliates$0$0$0$0$0
Other long-term liabilities$2,330,616$0$0$0$0
Total long-term liabilities$2,330,616$0$0$0$0
Total liabilities$3,202,470$182,868$269,172$401,010$318,393
Net assets20232022202120202019
Without donor restrictions$20,978,975$20,605,674$13,656,483$10,231,282$7,262,322
With donor restrictions$514,234$453,061$1,275,526$452,590$234,146
Net assets$21,493,209$21,058,735$14,932,009$10,683,872$7,496,468
Revenues and expenses
Total contributions$23,962,072$25,904,532$18,765,951$14,475,924$11,814,181
Program service revenue$18,693$45,002$0$25,716$20,000
Membership dues$0$0$0$0$0
Investment income$356,135$24,778$47,999$120,977$98,208
Other revenue$0$0$0$187,727$0
Total other revenue$374,828$69,780$47,999$334,420$118,208
Total revenue$24,336,900$25,974,312$18,813,950$14,810,344$11,932,389
Program services$19,155,761$16,243,305$11,844,677$9,309,113$9,497,090
Management and general$2,490,913$1,645,962$1,396,325$1,086,988$957,508
Total expenses$23,902,426$19,847,586$14,742,679$11,622,940$11,467,145
Change in net assets20232022202120202019
Surplus (deficit)$434,474$6,126,726$4,071,271$3,187,404$465,244
Other changes in net assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total change in net assets$434,474$6,126,726$4,071,271$3,187,404$465,244


Kelly ShackelfordPresident/CEO$582,099
David HolmesCOO/CFO/EVP$457,407
Jeff MateerCLO/EVP$386,988
Mike BerryVP External Affairs/Sr. Counsel$316,388
Hiram S SasserExec. Gen. Counsel$303,555
David HackerVP Litigation/Sr Counsel$262,764
Rebecca DummermuthCounsel$252,666
Jordan PrattSr. Counsel$212,617

Compensation data as of: 6/30/2023

Response from ministry

No response has been provided by this ministry.

The information below was provided to MinistryWatch by the ministry itself. It was last updated 5/7/2024. To update the information below, please email: [email protected]


Originally founded in 1972, First Liberty institute has evolved with the times and the needs of the nation. In 1997, we began to focus on Texas litigation as a non-profit law firm on issues of religious liberty with Kelly Shackelford as President and CEO. (It was originally founded as a division of the Free Market Foundation and called Liberty Legal Institute). As Liberty Legal, we won several landmark victories in Texas, including:

Protecting the rights of senior citizens to pray over their meals at government-run facilities

Establishing the doctrine of Church autonomy at the Texas Supreme Court

Defending the constitutionality of a Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Texas Capitol

In 2009, Liberty Legal officially became Liberty Institute, quickly gaining renown as the premiere legal organization defending religious liberty in the State of Texas and beyond. During this time, we successfully:

Won a landmark victory protecting a cross-shaped veterans monument

Secured the release of an American missionary from a Haitian jail

Protected the First Amendment rights of elementary students

Stopped the government from banning prayer at military funerals

In 2014, we founded our Military Division, focused on protecting the religious liberty of service members and veterans, with Senior Counsel Mike Berry as the Director of Military Affairs. The Military Division has achieved significant victories for military members, including:

Clearing charges against a wrongfully-terminated Air Force veteran

Exonerating a chaplain relieved of duty for expressing his faith in counseling sessions

Defending the cross-shaped Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial

In February 2016, Liberty Institute officially became First Liberty Institute. Today, First Liberty is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to protecting religious liberty for all Americans.

Our current cases include:

Protecting Orthodox Jews' rights to meet in a home for worship

Defending a football coach fired for praying after a game

Representing a Marine court-martialed for refusing to remove a Bible verse from her workspace

Defending the constitutionality of the cross-shaped Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial

In less than 20 years, First Liberty expanded from a statewide organization to a national organization with active legal matters throughout the country.

As religious liberty violations against Americans of all faiths continue to increase, First Liberty continues to grow-championing religious liberty for all.

To read more about First Liberty's history, see the First Liberty Timeline of Major Victories and Events.

Program accomplishments

In less than 20 years, First Liberty expanded from a statewide organization to a national organization with active legal matters throughout the country.