Kids, elderly benefit from Pick. Click. Give. donations

As 2013 begins, Alaska residents gifted with timeliness will likely apply for their Alaska Permanent Fund dividends. During the PFD application-period about 4 percent of eligible residents donate to charities through the Pick. Click. Give. program


Many nonprofits operating on the Kenai Peninsula participate in the program. Donors cite ease of use as the main reason for participating in the program, said local non-profit directors.

Three local non-profits plan to fund educational programs with their received donations.

“The board feels that these (program) dollars are used best within our academic programs,” said Josselyn O’Connor, Kenai Watershed Forum development director.

The forum set a goal of $6,000 in donations, while other local non-profits simply aim to continue a trend of increased donations each year. They have increased their marketing efforts for the program, which has helped during an increasingly tough economic climate.

The Alaska Legislature created the program in 2008. Alaskans who file for their PFDs online donate all or some money to community foundations and charitable and educational organizations. The total number of donors and the total number of pledges has risen each year. Donations increased from $545,000 to $2.2 million from 2009 to 2012, and the number of donors increased from 5,173 to 23,169, according to the program’s website.

The program became a permanent part of the PFD program after a three-year pilot period.

The three non-profits have had an increase in donations every year, they said. O’Connor said the watershed forum’s donations have grown steadily, and $6,000 is an attainable goal. Last year, donations doubled, from about $2,000 in 2011 to $4,028 in 2012.

A few devoted supporters have told the watershed forum they like the program’s ease of use, O’Connor said. They switched from donating at random periods during the year to using the program while applying for their PFDs, she said. The watershed forum receives donations from across the state.

The Boys and Girls Club of the Kenai Peninsula doubled its donations, as well. The club did not set a monetary goal; it simply aims to maintain a trend of increased donations, said Executive Director Natasha Ala.

Hospice of Central Peninsula Inc. received $2,875 through the program in 2012. No concrete goal has been set but $5,000 would help the nonprofit immensely, said Executive Director Marquitta Andrus.

“We recently sent out postcards reminding our customers to donate (through the program),” Andrus said. “It’s something we want to tap into, because it takes little to no effort and helps a lot.”

The watershed forum and the Boys and Girls Club plan to use and have used the donations for youth-oriented educational programs. Last year, the watershed forum used the dollars to support a new summer day camp for children ages 6-12. It set up a scholarship program for children who could not afford the camp’s tuition.

“We wanted to start a program where kids from all backgrounds could enjoy the outdoors. They spend a week exploring with us,” O’Connor said.

If the watershed forum reaches its goal of $6,000, that money could send 40 kids to camp, she said.

The club funnels its received donations toward “youth development programs.” There are clubhouses throughout the Peninsula, most of which manage afterschool and summer programs. The summer program, in particular, operates weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Kids are fed breakfast and lunch.

The Boys and Girls Club tires to honor the donors by allocating donations to specific clubhouses using the donors’ addresses, Ala said.

Andrus said Hospice has participated in the program since its inception in 2008. The donations are used for its programs and never administrative costs, she said. Programs benefitting from the donations include the hospice’s bereavement services, the in-house resource library and a medical equipment loan closet that serves an average of eight people per day.

“The hospice provides quality services at no charge,” Andrus said. “We have many programs for how small we are.”

Pick. Click. Give. is an easy way to introduce civic responsibility to young Alaskans, O’Connor said.

“The program definitely encourages philanthropy in children, by parents who show their kinds how to donate online,” she said.

Other organizations participating in the program range from the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank to KDLL Public Radio to the Tsalteshi Trails Association. More information is available on the Pick.Click.Give. website,

Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at