When getting money from investors just isn’t enough, fund-raising is the next best option. There are many people who can’t fund an entire documentary but can help you with a small part of it. To help you with this, we show you how to hold banquets, auctions, online events, and more.
Funding is notoriously hard to get. Even with a grants and donations, your funding goals may still fall short. When this happens, it's time to turn to fund-raising because knowing the most effective ways to fund-raise can help you save time and get the money you need.
Coming up with good ideas for fund-raising is like pulling teeth. Most people dread having to do them, but are glad they did when it's done. In order to to help you do a successful fundraiser, we're going to go over some common options like online fundraising websites, getting free public relations, and putting on benefits, screenings, and auctions. You can use ideas like these to pull off a fundraiser that allows your documentary to get the funding it needs.
The least risky and easiest way of fundraising for a documentary is to take advantage of online fundraising websites. Sites like Indie Go Go and Kickstarter allow you to pitch your documentary idea to people all over the world who can donate to your project after reading your proposal and seeing a sample of your footage. The beauty of these sites is that they save producers a ton of money on travel costs and allow the project to get donations from individuals they would have never had a chance to meet before. Even though people who see your projects on these sites may donate only a hundred dollars or less to your project at a time, those donations can add up when 100s of people are doing so. Both Indie Go Go and Kickstarter allow you to post your project free of charge but do take a 4-5 percent fee if your documentary gets funding. That being said, the exposure these websites give your project can be well worth the cost. Just remember, there is no such thing as free money so make sure you offer something to your donors such as an early copy of the finished product or a small gift.
I'm sure you've heard the saying that any press is good press? Well, the same goes for documentaries. Since half of the battle behind fund-raising is getting your project in front of as many people as possible, it can be a good idea to make your documentary newsworthy. Most local and regional news outlets have an arts and entertainment section where you can announce the unique goals of your documentary. Also, setting yourself up as an expert on a topic related to your documentary could get you contacted for an interview where you could mention your documentary. Lastly, if you have someone with some name recognition working on the documentary with you or a recognizable donor, you could release that information to the press for coverage. In this way, you can get people talking about your documentary which helps you to both find and impress donors.
Another option that takes a bit more time and strategic planning is to hold a benefit. Benefits raise money by having attendees pay to get into an event that cost the producer little to no money to put on. A very common benefit to hold is a dinner. Dinners work by having interested participants pay money to buy plates of food at an event in which an important person is attending or speaking. Sometimes interested individuals will buy out whole tables at a dinner. This way they can invite their friends or family to attend for free in hopes that they will donate to the production. Sometimes a local restaurant will donate their space and food for a free event so that people will both donate to the documentary and frequent their restaurant. Another common way to hold a benefit is through a concert. In a benefit concert, a band will donate either all or most of the proceeds of their ticket prices to a documentary. This can work well for both parties as they will both get exposure to people that they wouldn't have had access to otherwise.
Similar to a benefit, you can also hold an auction to raise money for your documentary. The trick, as with a benefit, is to get people to donate items that are rather valuable so people will want to attend. Donations usually include valuable items such as jewelry, artwork, and more. However, some people may not have any valuable items. If this is the case they can also donate free services like guitar lessons, and yard work. Since many people coming to the auction have probably never attended one before, it is a good idea to hold a silent auction. A silent auction will have items laid out in a showroom with a bidding sheet for people to write down their bids. If you set a short time for people to bid, it can make it more fun for attendees win an item.
Lastly, if you're documentary has already been made or you have previous documentaries to show, you can put on a screening. This way, all of the proceeds from the showing can go to recoup costs on the documentary that was shown or to get money for the next documentary that you are thinking of making.
Though fundraising can take a lot of effort, organization, and time, it is a necessary part for most documentaries. Doing one correctly can not only help you raise money, but can increase the visibility of your film as well.