I4j does amazing work in the service of human liberty. They are primarily lawyers, so their main strategy is litigation, but before they start a case, they figure out which courts are most likely to lead to a good verdict, and in which districts a decision in thier favor would produce conflicting decisions that the Supreme Court might notice.
Since they start from a strategy of changing the law, they're able to choose sympathetic clients, and good facts before going to trial. They work on a variety of issues related to Freedom of Speech, Private Property, and Economic Liberty. They have won numerous decisions at the Supreme Court, and are really helping change the situation for individual entrepreneurs trying to start their own business in the face of creeping bureaucracy of all kinds.
As a free market advocate and cheerleader for underdogs, I am attracted to the work that IJ does for its clients. I was first attracted to the organization as a byproduct of getting really ticked off by the proliferation of use of eminent domain by governmental entities who were taking over privately owned land to pursue development project. These projects were defined as in the public interest only because they would purportedly increase tax revenues from land taken over (and benefit private developers), which is not what the original intent of eminent domain.
The eminent domain fight is just a part of their advocacy target. They also fight against onerous government regulation and licensing requirements that are in many cases intended only to protect the entrenched parties already delivering services so regulated. I could continue with other examples, but you have to view their stories yourself (ij.org).
How they do it is as important as what they do. I am sincere in saying "how they do it" is better than any other charity I work with or donate to. They immediately acknowledge my contributions, and I have also gotten personal calls from key individuals in the organization as follow-up as well. Their periodic mailings and emails do a better job of keeping me informed of their activities and success than other organizations. I truly feel that they are making an impact and I am indirectly part of that, and that they are good stewards of my contributions. I am an annual donor to this organization.
Review from Guidestar
The Institute For Justice truly lives up to its name. This is not a free market think tank. This is a group of (very polite) legal brawlers who take their fight all the way to the Supreme Court on the behalf of the people who get crushed under the government's heavy boots. From inner city cab drivers, to horse massagers, to just plain folk trying to hold onto their homes and businesses in the face of eminent domain abuse, IJ is there to fight and (mostly) win. They are also adept at public relations. If you're interested in keeping the American Dream alive I can't think of a better organization to fund.
Review from CharityNavigator