Pick.Click.Give, an online donation system launched in 2009 as an easy way for Alaskans to share part of their Permanent Fund Dividend with charities of their choice, is once again seeing an increase in funds being channeled to Alaska nonprofits through the program. Anchorage's Bean's Café is again on track to receive the most donations of any Alaska charity.
As of March 4, some 19,627 Alaskans have pledged more than $1.78 million to nonprofit organizations, an increase of 10 percent over the same time last year, according to a Pick.Click.Give press release. The Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) is an annual dividend payout to Alaska residents from investment earnings of mineral royalties.
"Despite a smaller dividend last fall, many Alaskans still feel they can spare $25 or $50 to help a cause they care about," program manager Heather Beaty said in the press release. "These small gifts add up to make a big difference."
Last year's PFD was $878 per person.
This year there are 471 nonprofits in 48 communities across Alaska eligible to receive contributions, and program sponsors, including the Rasmuson Foundation, are offering an additional incentive – the three organizations seeing the most percentage growth in donations will be gifted an additional $5,000 apiece, and the top-earning organization that was not part of the program last year will win $2,500.
Last year, Bean's Café, an Anchorage community kitchen serving meals to those in need, received $94,621, more than any nonprofit. That funded roughly one-sixth of its food for the year. In 2013, Bean's Café is once again topping the list, having already received more than $92,000.
Executive director Ken Miller said that Bean's Café is "very excited" about the support they are receiving from the community through the "wonderful, wonderful program" of Pick.Click.Give. All of the money received through the program goes to food costs, Miller said. The average cost for one meal is $2.25 per person, so last year's $94,000 purchased about 40,000 meals.
Miller was thrilled by the growth of the program. In 2009, 104 people donated to Bean's Café through the program. Four years later, more than 1,800 people are expected to donate. "For whatever reason, our name is out in the community and people are having a much better understanding of what we do at Bean's Café," he added.
Other top-earning nonprofits this year are Anchorage public radio station KSKA, the Food Bank of Alaska, Abused Women's Aid in Crisis and Catholic Social Services.
The increase in donations continues the trend of upward growth seen every year during the Pick.Click.Give campaign. In 2012, the program raised more than $2.2 million for nonprofits, University of Alaska campuses and community organizations. More than 23,000 people donate, an increase of nearly 50 percent from 2011. Still, the amount of residents using the program is still relatively small compared to the number of Alaskans eligible to receive a dividend. In 2011, only 3.4 percent of Alaskans took the opportunity to donate a portion of their free money through the program.
Residents still have until March 31 to file their PFDs, and folks are still able to make donations after they have filed by revisiting their application online.
Contact Laurel Andrews at laurel(at)alaskadispatch.com.