Donations!? how to get people involved

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    • #42882

      Hi to everyone, and thanks for taking some time out of your days to read this. My name is Caleb, I am a student/independant filmmaker. I am working on my first major project this summer. It is an artistic/poetic documentary on living on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. For more information on the film visit . However the idea here isnt to promote my film, but to ask anyone’s help on how to raise funds for the film. I am trying to raise funds for a new camera for my production company to take to the streets with us. We are having issues raising funds for this film. The film is a nonprofit film, which obviously means that anything we get from the film, we put towards it. The problem we are having is that noone seems to want to invest in a film that will not return money to their wallets. We have no footage now, and we are working on getting some in the next month. Does anyone have any ideas as to what we could do to raise some money and awareness for the film. I am currently out of school and doing small video shoots and acting jobs, just to make an extra buck, but we are so short of our budget and we want to film in late July. Please give me your thoughts and ideas as to what we could do! Thanks so much guys!

      Malachi Films

    • #179556

      with no return on investment, why would you expect people to be willing to give money away? you might try to contacthomeless advocacy groups to see if they might be able to help you out, but you have a pretty big task ahead of you.

      Good Luck.


    • #179557

      lose the empty hands, it is symbolic of wanting a hand-out. go with one hand, reaching out to help another hand. that would be symbolic of giving a hand-up.

      Look for corporate, religious, or private individuals that might want to write off some money, and register as a n0t for profit corporation, then after expenses DONATE to a foodbank, church, shelter, or advocacy group to help those people.

    • #179558

      ps…. I once got a project funded by a private investor…. hired his son….. for the summer….

      sure I had a lazy, teenaged oaf wandering around with lightstands and a roll of gaffer tape…..

      But I got funded….

    • #179559

      Ha, ha. Good luck with that one.

      Barry Hampe, in his book “Making Documentary Films and Reality Videos”, says in relation to the budget, that you have to tailor your story to fit your budget.

      If you have none, than you canfigure outhow to makeyour documentary with no budget. That’s whatI did.

      I wouldn’t invest in something that has no return investment. Would you?

      I do have some tips: Sell lemonade or wash cars or whatever like the boy scouts/girl scouts do. You could have posters or pamphlets about the film and what good it will do to make it.

      Ifthe documentarydoesn’t do any good, or show a problem that needs to be fixed, then what good will it do to make it?

    • #179560

      The purpose of the film isnt to make money, its to raise awareness of the homeless problem in America. It doesnt matter if the film moves 1 or a million people to move towards helping the homeless, its about them. I find myself in a very select group of film makers that has zero revenue, and I love that.
      Thanks so much for your thoughts. Alot of the people that want to invest in this film want to help, and whatever money we get goes towards the film or to organizations on Skid Row. We have assosiation with several homeless shelters and organizations such as Midnight Mission, and The National Coalition for the Homeless. But just like us, they dont have money, and are always lacking funds to run their own organizations.

      Thanks so much guys for responding. We are still working on raising funds. The reason we are raising funds is for a new camera, which none of us can afford. Bigger than that, we have been invited to several film festivals internationally, but they require an entrance fee. We are on a no-budget film now, but we hope that as the money comes in, so will the support. I wish you all well, thanks again,


    • #179561

      Rent or borrow a camera (buying is not the best option tax-wise).

      Many of the places you mentioned do have functions and events that would be of benifit from having a videographer on hand.

      scratch thier backs they scratch yours….. (if they fund your movie, you volunteer some time to cover thier events)…the event coverage becomes useful to them for raising capital and or documenting thier activities to show various parties (ie government funders) how the money gets used.

      ideally to suceed in business you need:




      in reality, you make it, if you only got any two of the above.

    • #179562


      thanks so much. I already have two cameras borrowed from friends. I may just stick with that for fund purposes. Thanks so much for your help. I know I dont have money, but I know we have alot of effort, and there is alot of talent on our crew, so I’m sure the film will go further than what most people expect from us. Thanks,


    • #179563

      best of luck with your efforts – it’s a great project. still, it is a bit tough to reach out and get people to simply donate; plenty of people are having trouble filling the gas tank and putting food on the table.

    • #179564

      Grant writing would seem to be the way to go…It’s just a matter of marrying up the right organizations to fund your film.

    • #179565

      There are basically two ways of soliciting donations for this type of project. 1) large donations from a small group of people or organizations, or 2) small donations from a large group of people or organizations.

      If two people give you $1000.00, or if 2000 people give you $1, you still have $2000.00. Both ways are equally difficult, but pick one and stick with it.

      Either way you choose, some advice:

      1) Sell the cause, not the project. It will be easier to solicit money to “help raise homeless awareness” than it will to “buy a new camera”.

      2) Unless you have a good lawyer, offer nothing in return but a receipt. Charitable contributions are tax deductible. You can get a receipt book at Staples for $4 or less. Do NOT offer them any kind of compensation! Investments (even small ones) are heavily regulated by the SEC and even just TALKING to someone about a personal gain they can make (points, ROI, percentage ownership, distribution rights, etc.) can land you in hot water. The laws are all heavily in favor of protecting naive investors from unscrupulous scheisters.

      3) Look for a sponsorship from a related organization, like a homeless shelter or a church that operates a soup kitchen. Don’t ask them for money, obviously, but they can help you get the word out about your project and provide you with contacts that can prove valuable, and in exchange you can use their name to lend legitimacy to your project. “We’re working in conjunction with the 6th Street Helping Hands Shelter to raise awareness… etc etc”.

      4) Have a budget and a plan. What is your film going to accomplish? How much is it going to cost you to get it made? Not everyone will want this information, but being organized and having this information ready when asked (a one page sheet with bullet points is fine) will go a long way to convince others that you’re legit and capable. Guestimate the numbers as best you can, and err on the conservative side. Try to say something like “the film will cost $5000.00 to make, but it will eventually provide enough contributions to local shelters and organizations that could mean as many as 300 new beds, 650 new hot meals served each week, and 400 extra hours a month of personal employment and life management counseling services to help get an estimated 150 people off the street.”

      Now, I realize it’s been a month since you posted this, but I suppose there’s a chance it will do you (or someone else) some good.

      “We’re trying to raise money to get a camera so we can make an important film about homelessness on Skid Row.”

      …is not nearly as persuasive as…

      “Malachi Films is working with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Coalition to make an important film raising awareness of the growing problem of homelessness in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. Hundreds of people – men, women, and even children – are without the basic necessities we take for granted. They spend each and every day struggling to find food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. There are individuals capable of helping these people, but those individuals are drastically out of touch as to the extent of the problem. We’re making this film because these people are in extreme and immediate need of help, and we hope that, when finished, our film will help provide them with hot meals, clean clothes, additional beds to sleep in, and the personal counseling services they need to get back on track, find jobs, and create a better life for themselves. This film is being produced entirely Not-For-Profit, and your tax deductible donation of whatever you can spare – $1, $5, or more – has a chance to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of people.”

      Hope that helps.


    • #179566

      Grant writing would seem to be the way to go…It’s just a matter of marrying up the right organizations to fund your film.

      Grants take months to receive, and it sounds like his timeline is shorter than that. But it is a good option that somehow wasn’t originally mentioned in the thread.

      MalachiFilms – also, check out the film “Where the Day Takes You” – another film maker’s high profile attempt at raising awareness of LA homeless issues.


    • #179567

      I can definetly sympathise. I come from a non profit theater background. If you are going to be doing more work like this, which sounds like a wonderful idea by the way, then you should look in to incorporating as a non profit. That’s the only way to get grants and offer people a tax right off. I don’t know what the Califorina law is but in Illinois all you need is three people and about $50. Then of course you need to get federal 501(C) 3 tax exempt status. With that you can offer right offs and get a tax exempt letter so you don’t have to pay sales tax for items you purchase for the company. A lot of people think it’s hard to fill out the forms but I’ve done it three times all by myself with no problem. There are also a lot of lawyer groups that will help for free.

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