With the stroke of his pen, Governor Parnell made permanent a dream to increase the number of people who give to Alaska nonprofits, as well as the total amount of charitable dollars that are donated, by aligning the PFD application process with the opportunity to donate to worthy causes.

From left: Rep. Bill Thomas (Haines), Gov. Sean Parnell, Rasmuson Foundation President Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation Chair Ed Rasmuson, and Sen. Kevin Meyer (Anchorage).On the morning of May 27, 2010, in a standing-room only ceremony held in the Rasmuson Foundation boardroom, Governor Sean Parnell signed a bill into law. The bill ensures the Pick. Click. Give. (PCG) Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) Charitable Contributions Program will forever be an annual feature of the online PFD application. PCG provides Alaskans a chance to donate all or a portion of their PFD to eligible Alaska nonprofit organizations, community foundations, and university campuses when they file online. With the stroke of his pen, Governor Parnell made permanent a dream to increase the number of people who give to Alaska nonprofits, as well as the total amount of charitable dollars that are donated, by aligning the PFD application process with the opportunity to donate to worthy causes.

The bill signing ceremony was a significant milestone for the program. In the early 2000s, Rasmuson Foundation began informal discussions with several Alaska lawmakers about the idea to create an online charitable contributions mechanism attached to the annual PFD online application. In June 2005 the Board approved $900,000 in funding to cover start-up and administrative expenses for the first three years of such a program. In May 2008 the project commenced in earnest when the Legislature approved enabling legislation sponsored by Representative Bill Thomas that defined eligibility criteria for nonprofit organizations, outlined approved service offerings, and included a three-year sunset provision.

Over the 24 months since the original law was passed, PCG partners worked cooperatively and proactively with the Alaska Department of Revenue Permanent Fund Dividend Division to create the online donation form, with The Foraker Group and The Alaska Giving Coalition to conduct outreach to Alaska’s nonprofit organizations, and with United Way of Anchorage to manage the agency eligibility process and distribute donations to qualifying organizations. Concurrently, project organizers collaborated with award-winning marketing firm The Nerland Agency, social media firm Conversify, Kathy Day Public Relations, and New Trail Media to build a statewide constituency for PCG.

Rasmuson Foundation thanks the thousands of generous Alaskans who have pledged nearly $1.5 million since Pick. Click. Give. began. These dollars support nonprofit organizations across the entire state. The first year of the project generated $545,000 in pledged donations from 5,100 individuals to 333 participating nonprofit organizations. The project just wrapped up its second year. As of yesterday morning, June 1, the close of the 2010 PCG donation season, preliminary results from the second year of Pick. Click. Give. show that 9,543 individuals made 14,264 pledges totaling $927,075. These numbers are nearly double those from 2009. Once the dividend is calculated and garnishments are final, these dollars will be distributed in October to the donor-designated nonprofits.

The successful marketing of the project was accomplished thanks to support from funding partners at the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, ConocoPhillips, BP, the Mat-Su Health Foundation, Northrim Bank, and Providence Alaska Health and Services; in-kind support from public broadcasters, the Nerland Agency, Conversify, and Friends of the Alaska Children’s Trust; and hundreds of Alaska nonprofits who successfully articulated to donors the positive impact of each gift.

Thanks are due also to Alaska lawmakers Senator Kevin Meyer and Representative Bill Thomas who sponsored the Pick. Click. Give. language found in Senate Bill 171, the bill signed by Governor Parnell. The new Pick. Click. Give. law streamlines and clarifies the agency application process, expands eligibility to certain faith-based organizations, resets the application fee to make the program more self-sustaining, and, most importantly, lifts the sunset embedded in the original enabling legislation. The new bill takes effect January 1, 2011.

This project owes its success to a hearty collaboration among various organizations, funders, supporters, and donors. Share your stories of collaboration here.