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Alaskans Given Option to Increase Giving

July 11, 2008

(July 14, 2008) A new law will allow Alaska residents the opportunity to donate to charity some or all of the money they receive annually from the state’s Permanent Fund that was created from Alaska’s oil revenues.

Individuals who have resided in the state at last one year can apply to receive an annual payout from the Permanent Fund, which was created in 1976 out of the state’s proceeds from oil sold through the newly opened Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. The fund, which holds nearly $38 billion, has distributed between $300 and $1900 per person every year.

The new law will create a checkbox on the application form that will allow individuals to contribute a portion of their payout to a list of approved charities. More than 300 Alaskan charities have applied to be included on the application form in 2009, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The United Way of Anchorage will be reviewing the charity applications, with the final decisions to be made by government officials.

"Everyone I know working in philanthropy in Alaska sees this as a wonderful opportunity," said Ann Hale, M.A., CFRE, director, university advancement, at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, Alaska. "We hope this will stimulate charitable giving from new donors and encourage active donors to give even more."

Program Paid by Foundation

The Rasmuson Foundation in Anchorage will contribute up to $900,000 to implement the check-off program for the first three years. The funds will defray the state's cost of adapting the application process to accommodate the new check-off options, the cost of processing nonprofit applications and an education campaign targeted at Alaskans.

“Paying for the implementation of the PFD [Permanent Fund Divided] check-off program will ensure that 100 percent of the funds donors earmark from their PFD will go to the charity of their choice, and we hope that will encourage giving,” said Diane Kaplan, president of the Rasmuson Foundation, in a press release about the program. “If every Alaskan gave just a small part of their PFD to worthy organizations–-whether it be senior centers, parks and trails, summer camps for kids, public radio stations, health clinics or women's shelters-–the impact on the quality of life in our state will be palpable.”

A recent study by the foundation found that up to one-third of Alaskans would be willing to donate a portion of their PFD if an easy check-off option were implemented on the electronic application form.

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