First Liberty Institute

The information in this column was provided to MinistryWatch by the ministry itself. It was last updated 6/29/2021. To update the information in this column, please email:


First Liberty Institute now handles hundreds of religious liberty cases each year through a growing network of elite, volunteer attorneys.

As the largest legal organization exclusively dedicated to defending religious liberty, First Liberty Institute continues to lead the fight for religious liberty across every state and every generation of Americans.

Contact information

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


Phone: (972) 941-4444


Organization details

EIN: 751403169

CEO/President: Kelly Shackelford

Chairman: Mark Cover

Board size: 0

Founder: Kelly Shackelford

Ruling year:

Tax deductible: Yes

Fiscal year end: 06/30

Member of ECFA: Yes

Member of ECFA since: 2008


As our Founding Fathers declared, religious liberty is our first and most foundational right; it serves as the catalyst of all subsequent freedoms. When religious liberty is threatened or attacked, every other freedom is endangered. And once our First Freedom is lost, it will be gone forever. That's why we are First In the Fight when it comes to defending and protecting our country's most cherished and profound freedom: religious liberty.

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


12/6/2019Preemptive Love Coalition Scrutinized, Large vs. Small Charities, Investigative Journalism, and Religious Liberty

Transparency grade


To understand our transparency grade, click here.

Financial efficiency ratings

Sector: Advocacy

CategoryRatingOverall rankSector rank
Overall efficiency rating700 of 99922 of 41
Fund acquisition rating519 of 100120 of 41
Resource allocation rating593 of 100122 of 41
Asset utilization rating709 of 99925 of 41

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Balance sheet
Receivables, inventories, prepaids$126,701$503,057$270,740$107,286$358,841
Short-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Other current assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total current assets$10,591,274$7,554,150$6,883,833$5,182,812$3,587,516
Long-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Fixed assets$201,115$237,367$356,835$393,568$531,459
Other long-term assets$292,493$23,344$15,293$9,168$9,168
Total long-term assets$493,608$260,711$372,128$402,736$540,627
Total assets$11,084,882$7,814,861$7,255,961$5,585,548$4,128,143
Payables and accrued expenses$401,010$318,393$224,737$180$159,196
Other current liabilities$0$0$0$0$0
Total current liabilities$401,010$318,393$224,737$180$159,196
Due to (from) affiliates$0$0$0$0$0
Other long-term liabilities$0$0$0$0$0
Total long-term liabilities$0$0$0$0$0
Total liabilities$401,010$318,393$224,737$180$159,196
Net assets20202019201820172016
Without donor restrictions$10,231,282$7,262,322$6,660,699$5,103,166$3,463,933
With donor restrictions$452,590$234,146$370,525$482,202$505,014
Net assets$10,683,872$7,496,468$7,031,224$5,585,368$3,968,947
Revenues and expenses
Total contributions$14,475,924$11,814,181$11,174,801$10,019,006$8,133,823
Program service revenue$25,716$20,000$202,752$67,000$248,062
Membership dues$0$0$0$0$0
Investment income$120,977$98,208$32,485$13,512$11,092
Other revenue$187,727$0$0$0$0
Total other revenue$334,420$118,208$235,237$80,512$259,154
Total revenue$14,810,344$11,932,389$11,410,038$10,099,518$8,392,977
Program services$9,309,113$9,497,090$8,096,062$7,118,437$7,351,779
Management and general$1,086,988$957,508$918,964$768,794$819,583
Total expenses$11,622,940$11,467,145$9,964,182$8,483,098$8,739,237
Change in net assets20202019201820172016
Surplus (deficit)$3,187,404$465,244$1,445,856$1,616,420($346,260)
Other changes in net assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total change in net assets$3,187,404$465,244$1,445,856$1,616,420($346,260)


Kelly ShackelfordPresident/CEO$600,782
David HolmesCOO/CFO/EVP$405,592
Hiram S SasserExec. Gen. Counsel$314,240
Mike BerryGen. Counsel$226,896
Andrew GrahamSenior Fellow$174,191
Roger ByronSr. Counsel$167,342

Compensation data as of: 6/30/2020

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 6/29/2021. To update the information below, please email:


First Liberty Institute history began in 1997, founded as a non-profit law firm focusing on Texas litigation, 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

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.