Each year, more and more Alaskans have been donating a portion of their Permanent Fund dividends to the Pick.Click.Give. program, which financially benefits nonprofits around the state. This year, the nonprofits getting the largest total sum of donations serve a wide range of Alaskans, from the hungry to public journalists.
This year, $3.3 million was donated to the Pick.Click.Give program as of the April 1 PFD filing deadline. Nonprofits could see a slight change in donations as the current number doesn't include any donations made after the filing deadline or ineligible checks. A final total is expected later this fall.
Since the program launched in 2009, the number of donors has increased yearly. This year, 6.1 percent of Alaskans who filed their PFDs online donated to the program, which allows the nonprofits to spend the money without restrictions. Last year, 4.6 percent donated to Pick.Click.Give.
This year the average donation was $62, the same as in 2014.
But which nonprofits received the most donations?
The top five earners
- Beans Cafe and its Childrens Lunchbox program received the most donations out of the 540 eligible nonprofits, earning $147,050.
Bean's Cafe executive director Lisa Sauder said the donations "are a wonderful gift." The money will go toward things like bus passes -- so clients can go to job interviews and appointments -- and feeding hungry children and adults.
- Alaska Public Media received $129,800 in donations.
"Just like any of our fundraisers, the money goes right back into our mission as a public media outlet," Alaska Public Media director of member engagement Kristin Hall said. She elaborated that the funds would go into programming, including new content and the popular "Indie Alaska" documentary series.
- Food Bank of Alaska received $101,775 in donations.
"As unrestricted revenue, Food Bank of Alaska uses the PCG funding where the need is greatest," Food Bank of Alaska executive director Michael Miller said. "That could be to pay for shipping food to rural communities, purchase food when donations are low or buy fuel for trucks to pick up food from our retail and wholesale donors."
- The Abused Women's Aid in Crisis shelter received $90,475 in donations.
AWAIC executive director Suzi Pearson said most of the grants her nonprofit receives just cover personnel costs, but the donations through Pick.Click.Give. cover other important needs like paying utility bills, buying bus passes and moving clients.
- Catholic Social Services, which includes Clare House and Brother Francis Shelter, received $89,725.
"We know these are challenging economic times and truly value Alaskan families making sacrifices to help others in their community -- we will use your money in the wisest, most frugal way we can," executive director Lisa Aquino said.
The donations will help fund Brother Francis Shelter, Clare House, homeless family services, refugee assistance and immigration services. To better put the numbers into context, Aquino said, "Twenty dollars will pay for a night for a person at Brother Francis Shelter and include a warm place to sleep, a shower, a hot meal, access to case workers and connection to medical care; $1,000 pays for mats and blankets for 10 people to sleep on."
Other notable donations
Rounding out the top ten charities are Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, receiving $64,300, Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue with $63,400, Covenant House with $56,850, Friends of Pets with $56,225 and the Alaska Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals with $47,475.
At Planned Parenthood, the money will go toward offering "affordable high-quality health care" around the state, education programs and outreach, as well as funding for a new smartphone app to help Alaskans in rural regions receive birth control and soon STI testing, development officer Caitlin Hedberg said.
The donations to Friends of Pets will go right into services as the program is operated by volunteers. The services include education, prevention and intervention. The nonprofit attempts to reduce the number of pets abandoned by offering spay and neuter assistance and tries to reduce the number of animals euthanized through its adoption and shelter program, Friends of Pets board president Michele Girault said.
At the ASPCA, executive director Kay Ashton said the donations will go toward a new shelter scheduled to open later this month, as well as spay and neuter outreach, education and clinics across the state.