Glitch hurts charity donations from PFDs

Posted: Wednesday, January 06, 2010

ANCHORAGE - A computer problem that prevented some people from donating a portion of their Permanent Fund Dividend to charity has been fixed, state officials said.

The system apparently was unable to deal with the high level of traffic at the beginning of the year, when people can file for the money, the Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday.

Last year, about 1 percent of filers contributed a total of $545,000 through the Pick-Click-Give program to more than 100 nonprofits. One-fourth the number of filers have contributed so far this year.

Over the weekend, some people couldn't get the Web site search tool to work correctly, and others faced lengthy delays or time-outs when they tried to use it. In some cases, the fund application was processed before a donation could be pledged.

Among the people unable to donate was Jordan Marshall, who runs the Rasmuson Foundation's Pick-Click-Give campaign. The head of the foundation, Diane Kaplan, also said she was unable to donate.

Fred Traber, a retired city employee, was so irritated that he complained to state legislators and the state revenue commissioner. He felt the state failed to do its job and charities would suffer as a result.

The Food Bank of Alaska - the charity that received the largest amount of donations last year - wasn't too worried.

"There still will be a lot of people who will continue to apply (for a Permanent Fund Dividend) online," food bank spokeswoman Marleah LaBelle said.

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