More than 7,800 Alaskans so far have pledged to give away at least part of their Permanent Fund dividend this year to a charity, far more than did in the program's first year in 2009, say officials with the Rasmuson Foundation.
And the number should rise, they say.
The Pick-Click-Give program, a Rasmuson-supported experiment to boost philanthropy in Alaska, allows people applying for a dividend online to donate part or all of the money.
The deadline for applying for this year's dividend is Wednesday.
People will have a second chance to donate starting April 5, after the dividend application deadline. During that window, they can go into their Permanent Fund dividend account, change which charity they want to contribute to, donate to more charities, increase or lower the amount, or withdraw their pledge altogether, said Jordan Marshall, Rasmuson initiatives and special projects manager. That period will stretch through May 31.
Their dividend won't be affected if they go back into the account to adjust their pledge, Marshall stressed.
This year's dividends are scheduled to be paid Oct. 7.
A technical glitch the first three or so days of the year, when the dividend application period began, kept some applicants from participating in Pick-Click-Give. The second-chance opportunity is intended to help people who wanted to donate but couldn't, as well as people who want to change their pledges, Marshall said.
"Every Alaskan who filed online -- every one -- is going to have an opportunity to go in and give," Marshall said. "If they thought they should give but didn't, they are going to have a chance."
People can still withdraw their online pledges through mid-September, but won't be able to make other changes after May 31, said Debbie Bitney, director of the Alaska Permanent Fund Division.
As of March 24, 487,300 Alaskans had applied for a dividend online, and 7,875 of them had pledged more than $715,000 total to nonprofits. Last year, about 5,100 pledged.
Supporters hope pledges top $1 million this year.
Some donors like Pick-Click-Give because it's easy to use and provides an opportunity to select from among many approved charities, said Alison Kear, development director for Covenant House, which took in more than $8,800 from the program last year. Of the 66 donors who provided their names, about half were first-time contributors to the shelter, she said.
Lawmakers created Pick-Click-Give in 2008 at the urging of Rasmuson. The foundation pitched in about $900,000 to create, promote and run it for the first three years, and other groups put in additional money.
A measure before the state Legislature would continue the program and establish funding for the long term. The proposed amendment to Senate Bill 171 is among dozens of measures pending in the state House Finance Committee. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn for the year on April 18.
Find Lisa Demer online at adn.com/contact/ldemer or call 257-4390.