Fundraising 101 with UGFTV Faculty

Marion Steward

UGFTV Chair Ezra Sacks invited faculty members to share their advice on fundraising for film projects. 

Sources of Funding & Sponsorship from Christina DeHaven-Call

  • Grants
  • Corporate/Brand Sponsorships
  • Target Organizations & Groups
  • Individuals
  • Crowdfunding

Think about your CALL TO ACTION. Why this film, why you, why now? The primary goal with fundraising is audience building.

Crowdfunding Advice from David Irving

Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project by raising money in small increments from people via the Internet. This modern financing model consists of the film director, people who support the project, and a platform that marries all three players. As of this edition the most oft used platforms are Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Patreon, GoFundMe, and Crowdcube.

Crowdfunding pros and cons


1. centralizes communications.
2. creates a network effect.
3. creates momentum.
4. builds your market.
5. can raise a lot of money.
6. can validate your offer.


1. doesn’t “find investors” for you.
2. is full of scammers.
3. is a lot of work.
4. takes a lot of preparation.
5. can be expensive.
6. can be a saturated market.

One of the challenges of posting new ideas on crowdfunding sites is there may be little or no intellectual property (IP) protection provided by the sites themselves. Once an idea is posted, it can be copied. Be sure to protect your ideas by copyrighting any material posted on a crowdfunding site.

Funding Research Tips from Christina DeHaven-Call

  • Create a routine for yourself. Choose a time limit for your research each day (half hour, hour).
  • Be diligent and do your homework on every potential sponsor.
    • Do they have a long history of giving? 
    • What projects/causes have they funded in the past? 
    • What does their social media profile look like?
      • What do they post?
      • Who do they follow + who follows them?  
  • Sponsor outreach: 
    • Find the appropriate company contact: Community Relations, Public Affairs, etc.
    • Ask yourself: Why would ‘XYZ’ company/organization benefit from this partnership? Do we have a shared interest or ‘call to action’? 
    • In direct communications, be brief but make sure you hit the points. 
    • Proofread before you sent/post! 
    • Give them at least a week if not two weeks before you follow up. Be mindful of how busy they might be. 

Fiscal Sponsorship Advice from Janet Grillo

Consider posting your campaign on several different crowd sourcing sites. Including FRACTURED ATLAS, which functions as a 401 C 3 Non Profit organization, which will accept tax deductible contributions. This encourages family/friends with resources to make larger donations, and incentives/rewards them with a tax deduction. SOFT IN-KIND donations by vendors or companies can also receive Tax Deduction for their contribution through this site. You can combine these tax deduction gifts WITH crowd funding contributions, which tend to be made for lesser amounts. You can learn more about fiscal sponsorship here.

Tips for Successful Crowdfunding from Christina DeHaven-Call

  • Use it as an audience building tool.
  • It’s one option of fundraising, but doesn’t have to be your only platform/source.
  • Set a realistic fundraising goal. Choose the lowest number that makes it worthwhile and can satisfy the requirements of the project.
  • Keep crowdfunding video short and sweet, but dynamic.
  • Create free incenstives. Don’t spend money (or a lot of time).
  • Use social media in creative ways to drive traffic to your campaign!
  • Build a support team to help expand your outreach.
  • Launch on a Tuesday in the middle of the month. In the morning around 10am wherever your primary audience is. Double check end date/time policies on crowdfunding platform.
  • 30-day campaign is ideael.
  • A.P.P.S.
    • Authenticity – Do it in your voice.
    • Passion – We need to feel that you care, confident, excited, strong vision (not desparate).
    • Personalization – Develop your target ‘avatar’: A clear in-depth description of your best audience member (Give them character, persona, relationship) so that you have an image in your mind of who you’re talking to.
    • Specificity – What is the intentionality here? 
  • Research other successful campaigns. What did they do right?
  • Watch: TED Talk “The Art of Asking” – Amanda Palmer
  • Read: NYFA “Business of Art | Crowdfunding 101”

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