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Alaskan Nonprofits Hope Potentially High PFD Payouts Inspire Donations

Inclusive community garden project in Kivalina. Photo courtesy of Arctic Access.

With Permanent Fund Dividend checks expected to yield double the money this year, local nonprofits are hoping that sparks double the philanthropy.

Pick.Click.Give. lets Alaskans make charitable donations from their PFD, and as of Monday, they’ve collected donation pledges from 26,000 Alaskans. That’s about $2.8 million due into the bank accounts of nonprofits across the state.

There are over 500 organizations eligible for donation from Barrow to Ketchikan this year. Right now, leading organizations are Beans Café in Anchorage, Alaska Public Media, and the Food Bank of Alaska.

In our local area, eligible organizations include the Boys and Girls Club of Alaska, Arctic Access, and this radio station—KNOM. Tuesona Tungwenuk, host of KNOM’s Fist-Pound Show, is a board member for Arctic Access—an advocacy organization for people with disabilities.

Tungwenuk said donations have allowed Arctic Access to fund a wheelchair-accessible taxi van in Nome, a lift for the swimming pool, and beginning a community garden project.

“It allows us to buy equipment for people with disabilities, and it allows the board members to go to training, and we give out used equipment to people with disabilities,” said Tungwenuk. “The idea is to have them stay in their homes and be as independent as possible.”

Thanks to donations—as well as grants and state funding for Arctic Access—Tungwenuk was able to attend a conference in Anchorage hosted by the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living. She said opportunities like that show the heart of Arctic Access’s mission.

“I hope to allow people to have independence and to see people with disabilities as equals, because everybody deserves their chance to have their voice heard,” said Tungwenuk.

Donors, including allies and people who have experience with disabilities themselves, have raised $400 so far this year for Arctic Access.

Heather Beaty is the program manager for Pick.Click.Give. She said the program has raised $10.5 million since it was established in 2008, and each year, more donations are being made. Beaty is hopeful this year’s expected high PFD payout will inspire more donations.

“We are hoping that as the news gets out that the PFD is going to be a lot bigger that some Alaskans will go back and add a donation to their application,” said Beaty. “And certainly, having a big dividend this year might encourage more Alaskans to make a Pick.Click.Give. donation when they file in January of next year for their 2015 PFD.”

Beaty said Pick.Click.Give. hasn’t been around long enough to tell if there’s a direct relationship between the size of the PFD and the number of donations made. But this year’s pledge total so far is the highest it’s ever been—and that’s with just under 5 percent of Alaskans making a donation.

“Some people choose to give $25, which is the minimum donation. The average among all donors is just over $100, and then there are certainly a lot of individuals who choose to donate the full amount of their PFD,” said Beaty.

Even if you’ve already filed for your PFD, Beaty said it’s simple to go back into the online form and make a pledge. Eligible Alaskans have until August 31 to make a donation of their PFD through Pick.Click.Give.