PFD donations don't change much with higher payout

This year, deposits of about $3,200 each will begin appearing in Alaskans’ bank accounts on Sept. 20, but so far the promise of a record-high combined Permanent Fund dividend and energy relief payment hasn’t translated to more charitable giving.

Since the Alaska Legislature approved the large payout in May, Alaskans had donated an additional $14,000 as of last week through Pick.Click.Give., the online charitable giving program linked to the PFD.

“This is typical for this time frame, every year,” Pick.Click.Give. senior program officer Jessie Lavoie said July 11.

Permanent Fund dividend recipients have until Aug. 31 to go online and donate to their favorite charities or increase their giving.

Over the course of the past 10 years, Pick.Click.Give. has raised an average of $2.8 million annually. Lavoie said donations will likely pick up as the pledge deadline approaches, but she doesn’t expect trends this year will look remarkably different from previous years.

Data from the past 10 years of Pick.Click.Give. shows little correlation between the size of the Permanent Fund dividend and the total amount raised through the program.

While Pick.Click.Give raised a record high $3.3 million in 2015, the same year the PFD hit its previous all-time high, $2,072, the program raised nearly the same amount the following year after the dividend had been halved. Between 2019 and 2020, the PFD decreased by 38%, but the amount raised through Pick.Click.Give increased very marginally.

“We would argue that the larger PFD doesn’t mean larger donations but more donations as more individuals tend to participate, but they pledge smaller amounts,” Lavoie said.

Year-to-year increases in dividend size have not translated to increases in the average Pick.Click.Give donation. A record number of people participated in Pick.Click.Give. in 2015 — 33,421 — but the average donation amount hit a record high $108 the following year.

This year’s $3,200 payment doesn’t appear to be affecting where people are choosing to pledge either, according to Lavoie. The breakdown is similar to previous years, with human services the top selection for donations.

Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation is one of several Southeast organizations that participates in Pick.Click.Give. Executive Director Julie Decker, of Wrangell, said over the years she’s noticed little difference in the amount the organization receives through the program.

“I would say we do see a slight uptick when PFDs are high, but I don’t know if we consistently saw that and it wasn’t a significant amount more,” she said, adding that the amount the organization receives is usually quite small.

Other organizations serving Wrangell that participate in Pick.Click.Give. are Catholic Community Services, KSTK and The Salvation Army.


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