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DOCUMENTARY TIP #2: Year-end Fundraising

Did you know that as we approach year's end, it is a perfect time to be fundraising for a documentary film? Now is the time when private individuals and foundations assess their yearly budgets and how much money they need to give away by December 31st to get certain tax breaks.

If you know of any individuals who make charitable contributions, you'll want to write them a fundraising letter now, so that they can put you on their end-of-year gift list. Most likely, you'll need to have a fiscal sponsor, or be a non-profit entity yourself, in order for your donor to reap the tax benefits of a charitable donation to your project. (Get detailed info on how to do this in our Members area with the Setting Up a Business Structure tutorial.)

Here are some tips for success:

• Set the tone of your letter as an invitation to support and participate - not a desperate cry for help! This is a turn-off to donors. They want to feel their participating in something wonderful, not getting on a sinking ship!

• Personalize the letter in the first paragraph - ask about their life, tell them about yours.

• Explain your film project briefly if they have not yet heard about it. Be sure to convey your passion and WHY you are making the film.

• Let them know exactly how much money you are trying to raise, by when, and what this will be used for.

• Include a more detailed treatment or proposal so that they can see the full picture if they're interested.

• Include a self-addressed stamped envelope so they can mail the money directly to you, or to your fiscal sponsor. 

• Make sure to follow up with a thank you card if they end up joining your adventure. 

• If they don't make a donation, keep them informed anyway. They may donate at a later date.

If you would like more information on how to write a successful fundraising letter, watch our free Documentary How To video: How to Raise Money in 2 Weeks or Less.

You can see a sample fundraising letter that has raised thousands of dollars in our Members area.

If you would like to know more about Fiscal Sponsorship for filmmakers, check out our Documentary How To audio course, Documentary Producing 101.

Here's to your prosperity and success!