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Alaska News

Aggressive fundraising campaign generates millions annually for Alaska nonprofits

  • Author: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: January 16
  • Published January 16

A publicly-supported Alaska philanthropic organization said Wednesday it has raised $100 million to create an endowment for nonprofits, in what officials say may be the largest public fundraising campaign in state history.

The endowment will spin off several million dollars each year for nonprofits at a time of diminishing resources and rising demands, said Nina Kemppel, the president and chief executive of the Alaska Community Foundation. The endowment will allow the foundation to give twice as much annually to charitable projects and nonprofits in Alaska as it does now, she said.

More than 1,800 people donated to create the new endowment, Kemppel said. A large portion came through wills and estates.

One individual’s estate, who Kempel declined to identify, gave $40 million.

Smaller donations came in too. One 7-year-old gave a $25 check, Kemppel said.

The donations followed a five-year fundraising campaign. The original goal was $50 million, Kemppel said. Alaska Community Foundation officials held gatherings at Alaskan homes and also traveled out-of-state -- including to Palm Springs, Seattle and Arizona -- to meet with former Alaskans and talk about the campaign.

By the middle of last year, the foundation exceeded its original goal and rolled on to the $100 million mark, Kemppel said.

“There’s just momentum around everybody wanting to be part of something that is truly going to make our state an even better place to live,” Kemppel said.

Similar to the Permanent Fund, the new endowment will spin off between 4 and 5 percent of its total amount each year, Kemppel said. That means about $4 million to $5 million will be available to nonprofits each year. That’s about how much the foundation has been giving in grants to hundreds of organizations each year until now.

Organizations that have received past grants include Catholic Social Services, which runs Anchorage’s largest homeless shelter and a number of other programs, and Facing Foster Care, an advocacy and support organization for foster youth.

The board of the Alaska Community Foundation will decide the first grants from the new endowment, Kemppel said. Their next meeting is Feb. 14, Kemppel said. She said the board typically decides a general area to direct the funds, such as suicide prevention.

The chairman of the board is Peter Michalski, a former Anchorage superior court judge. Other prominent Alaskans are among the board members, including former Gov. Bill Sheffield, developer and philanthropist Jon Rubini, Diane Kaplan of the Rasmuson Foundation and executives from a number of Alaska Native corporations.

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