Working with philanthropic grantmakers/donors
"Philanthropy is about humanity - other people's and ours. Sidney Myer was a philanthropist. He gave his time, his money, his mind, his energy and his respect. To me, this is what philanthropy is about: it is about giving of all these elements, not just money alone." - Christine Edwards, CEO, Myer Foundation, Community Foundation Forum 4 August 2006
There are many philanthropic grantmakers willing to give financial support to interesting projects. These include traditional public foundations, community trusts, family foundations, corporate foundations and prescribed ancillary funds (PAF), all of which are generically called Foundations as well as Individual and Corporate Donors.
Philanthropic donors are motivated to give. Foundations - public and private - are set up to make philanthropic grants. They give grants according to their guidelines and to projects that cover a broad cross-section of Australian society. The challenge is convincing them that your documentary project will give their grant a higher return on social capital over the hundreds of other applications they receive.
There are many things that motivate a philanthropist to give. These may include a general desire to contribute to the wellbeing of society or to make a difference to an individual. Typically, philanthropists are driven by a desire to make a difference in our world. Amongst the aims listed in several of Australia's most active foundations are: to enrich society, to improve individual lives, to alleviate issues that affect a particular group such as youth or indigenous people, or to contribute to our future by donating to issues such as the environment.
Philanthropic organisations have different interests and take different risks. These range in the size and types of grants they administer. Some foundations will award one-off grants, while others will give recurrent funding over three to five years. Some have a singular focus such as youth issues while others serve multiple purposes, such as giving to the arts, education, health, the environment, social welfare and indigenous issues. Some foundations may be more inclined to support outreach plans for a completed work, while others will be prepared to get involved early at the development stage with seed funding.
There are trends in the sector (such as environment, youth, ageing, early intervention, asylum seekers). Some grantmakers will support what is popular, while others are looking for innovation. Some foundations will support pilot programs, while others will fund projects that are not supported by government.
There are over 1500 trusts and foundations in Australia which give between half-a-billion and a billion dollars in estimated donations each year. These organisations quietly support very worthy causes. Most of the interest areas of foundations intersect with the interests of documentary filmmakers. Unlike in the USA, where private funding for documentary is established, there has been limited focus on giving to documentary in Australia. A key objective of the Documentary Australia Foundation is to encourage private funding to, at least, match public funding for documentary in Australia.
Our aim is to inspire foundations to give to documentaries as part of their overall gift-giving strategy by showing them the potential of creating an impact through the power and influence of documentary.
See Philanthropy Australia for a complete list of philanthropic organisations with descriptions of interests, purposes and guidelines as well as links to many of their websites. (Please note this requires a subscription. It is well worth it though).