How to fund your project

Fundraising for human rights film screenings or festivals can be a challenging endeavour. There are no fixed rules or strategies that guarantee a succesful outcome. A great lot depends on the circumstances in your country, as well as on the experience and capacity of the organising team. But don’t panic – below, we listed some general steps to get you inspired!

Write a project plan

The first thing you need to do is make a project plan. Think of the type of festival you want to realise, what goals you want to achieve, and make an estimation of the overall costs. You might want to check entry forms on different websites to get an idea on what information should ideally be included, e.g. the application form of the Movies that Matter grant programme. In general, a good project plan includes at least: a short project description, the objectives and targeted groups, a planning, a publicity plan, and an overview of costs and benefits. Above all, make sure your project plan is clearly formulated and well-structured.

Find suitable funds

Funds come in all different kind of shapes and sizes. There are several granting programmes that are devoted to building awareness on human rights, developing civil society and encouring dialogue and active citizenship. Search the web or visit the sponsor pages of other film festivals to get you started. A small selection of granting programmes is also found through this link.

Furthermore – depending on the political situation in your region – you can check whether your government offers domestic funds for your project. Get in touch with your municipality or Ministry of Culture.

Finally, there are many institutions, foundations and embassies in the world that are involved in supporting cultural or socially engaged projects. A forthcoming advantage of getting involved with an embassy, is that their support can help or even protect you against local authorities who might not be in favour of your project. However, do keep in mind that many embassies and institutions tend to support projects that have a clear link to their country.

Diversify your sources

Sponsors are always on the lookout for new, fresh and interesting projects to fund – and therefore have a tendency to withdraw from ‘older’ projects after a few years of sponsorship. In order to ensure the continuity of your project, you thus might want to diversify your sources as much as possible. Moreover, applying at different sources is generally well appreciated by the funds and might have a positive influence in the assessment of your proposal.

Criteria and planning

After you have found suitable funding options, make sure to double-check their guidelines, criteria and regulations. What exactly is it that this organisation supports? Is it applicable to your project? You also want to go through their regulations carefully – especially when it comes to their deadlines. Most funds work with a limited number of granting rounds per year. Check whether these are in line with your own planning and the execution of your project.

File an application

Writing the application is a crucial step, so the first advice is: start on time! Some funds work with standard entry forms; if so, use them. Obviously, it is essential that your application is readable, therefore remember to use the required language. In case your knowledge of the concerned language is insufficient, try to find someone who can help you out. Spend considerable time on making a clear, realistic and detailed budget. Estimate your costs carefully and explain how you came up with the numbers, so the sponsors know exactly what it is that they are supporting. Also specify other incomes, such as box office (ticket sales), advertising profits and grants. Use the required currency. Finally, your sponsors will want to see results after your project has finished. Therefore, make sure to formulate clear, measurable indicators that make it possible to identify concrete results later onwards.

Evaluate and report

It’s the end of your project. Check if there are specific requirements for your evaluation report and how much time you have for handing it in with your partner. In general, the report presents an account of all your project activities, as well as the results achieved with reference to the original application. Write down what went well, but also be honest about what went wrong. Make sure to be brief, but detailed. A good evaluation report includes: a description of the event; the exact outcomes (number of visitors, amount of media attention); the role of partners (if any); lessons learned; and follow-up plans. It’s also much appreciated if you include photos, videos or articles about the event.

As a final remark, it’s important to note that there are many more tips and tricks for raising funds. For instance, you might also want to consider alternative methods like grassroots fundraising or crowdfunding. Click here for more input and ideas.