Pick. Click. Give. Donations Up, Number Of Donors Taper

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Annual giving in the Pick. Click. Give. program has grown robustly since its 2009 launch, though the total number of donors appears to be tapering off.

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This year, program officials have brought back the Double Your Dividend sweepstakes to attract donors, and organizations will be charged a new 7 percent administrative fee.

There’s been double-digit percentage growth in the amount given to Alaska nonprofits through Pick. Click. Give. since its launch.

The program makes it easy for Alaskans to give part of their Permanent Fund Dividends to charities. Almost 27,000 people donated about $2.8 million in 2014.

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However, the growth in the number of people giving is down.

“So we sometimes wonder if people are thinking back to the dividend that they just received a couple of months earlier,” says Pick. Click. Give. program manager Heather Beaty of the Alaska Community Foundation.

The payout in 2013 was about half of last year’s, the third biggest in the history of dividends.

“We have speculated that having a lower PFD amount may have affected the rate of participation,” Beaty says.

Tim Blust is a bookkeeper with Discovery Southeast, a Juneau nonprofit with an outdoor education mission. Last year, he goosed his organization’s books a little with a personal donation through Pick. Click. Give.

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In the fall, he got a coy phone message from Beaty.

“My 12-year-old son immediately said, ‘Dad, you must have won.’ And I said, “Won what?”

His son was right. Blust was one of 10 winners of the Double Your Dividend drawing that Pick. Click. Give. donors entered.

The sweepstakes launched last March, the final month of the dividend sign-up period. It was meant to counter low giving caused by technical problems in what’s usually a busy January.

It’s hard to suss out exactly what effect the sweepstakes had.

But, Beaty says, “We did see Pick. Click. Give. participation go up quite a bit while we were promoting the sweepstakes. So we decided to go ahead and implement it again this year hoping that it continues to encourage more Alaskans to make donations through Pick. Click. Give.”

One change this year affecting participating organizations is a new 7 percent administrative fee. The fee is meant to replace temporary grant funding, largely from the Rasmuson Foundation, used to get the program going. Organizations will continue to pay a separate $250 filing fee.

Last year, the legislature unanimously created the new fee while also relaxing some requirements.

The sentiment among several local nonprofit officials was that it’s too bad to lose the revenue, but worth the convenience.

Rasmuson President and CEO Diane Kaplan said in a recent blog post that the new fee is a sign of the program’s sustainability and maturity.

Dividends are expected to grow again in 2015. The value of the dividend is based on a rolling, 5-year average of Permanent Fund investment gains and losses.

Full disclosure: KTOO participates in Pick. Click. Give.