You’ve most likely been living under a rock (or out in Talkeetna) not to notice the green signs and banners plastered across the state with three simple word sentences on them: Pick. Click. Give. It is a short and mightily punctuated call to action, but what is that calling and how can we answer it? On the ten-year anniversary of the Alaska State Legislature passing the bill to create an option to donate part of your dividend to a worthy charity, we are taking a look at the Program Pick. Click. Give. And what it says about Alaskan Philanthropy.
Sofia Fouquet, Program Director for Pick. Click. Give. took time out of her statewide development campaign for a phone interview this week. Fouquet is energetic about non-profits and optimistic about the future of charitable work going on in our cities and rural communities throughout the state. The following conversation was edited for space and relevance.
Frye: For anyone that doesn’t know what Pick. Click. Give. is, how do you explain it?
Fouquet: It really is a tool. For Alaskan’s that want to support a cause or get involved in philanthropy, this is an opportunity to do it in an easy and safe environment. When you are applying for your PFD [Permanent Fund Dividend] you have the option to set aside a portion of it to a charity or cause.
Frye: That’s neat. Sort of like a philanthropy starter set. Are there any new features of the program or initiatives that you are rolling out this year?
Fouquet: (pauses) There are a lot of things that we are doing on the backend of the program with our partner organizations, but this year people are going to notice the Pick Tool. With 634 different organizations to choose from, it can be overwhelming to wade through and select a charity if someone is new to philanthropy. So, we partnered with Brilliant [Media Strategies] to make a Buzzfeed-type quiz. You can go to the website and fill out the questionnaire and then the tool will give you charity recommendations based on your answer—in groups of three.
Frye: That is really neat. Anything else on the innovation front?
Fouquet: Well, we had a very popular initiative that has been around for a few cycles, but we are going to run the ‘double your dividend’ campaign this year. If you opt into the contest then the charity that you choose is eligible for an additional full dividend, this year is one thousand dollars, to be donated in your name. It is a way to be able to donate a little and end up making a big difference for a cause that you care about.
Frye: So that is news. The dividend is capped this year at a grand. It’s part of the new policy at the state legislature to reconcile a multi-year economic downturn. How has that affected the non-profits in the program?
Fouquet: It has actually been the coolest thing about this recent economy. While the dividend has gone down year over year for the past two cycles, the amount per donation has actually increased. In 2015 the dividend was $2072.00 and the average donation was $99.63. Two years later the dividend was half as much and the average donation was $104.43. This has been the trend. Alaskans are generous and believe that community is built when everyone pulls together.
Frye: I would not have guessed that. I assumed that as the dividends grew smaller then so would contributions. Have there been any stories from that stand out for you on the non-profit side?
Fouquet: There are so many really. The one that comes to mind for me is a charity out of Homer Alaska called the Bunnell Street Art Center. They made this amazing video of all the various projects and artists that were directly supported from Pick. Click. Give. donations. It was neat that it was all broken down into how that money was raised from just 100 people (most of who gave less than $50). The video is the type of easy thing that a charity can do to show value in their mission. Pick. Click. Give. is here to encourage our charities to continue to innovate and to grow with the next generation of Alaskan Philanthropists.
The Alaska Community Foundation (ACF) was created over 20 years ago with the mission to nurture philanthropy by managing permanent endowments and partnering with charitable organizations to strengthen communities. For the last ten years, the foundation has been overseeing its wildly popular PFD fundraising program. If you would like more information on how you can use your PFD to affect positive social change or would like to use the ACF family of resources to grow your not for profit mission visit www.alaskaacf.org.