Frequently asked questions

Project funding

What does Documentary Australia do for filmmakers?

Established in 2008, Documentary Australia Foundation is an independent not-for-profit organisation supporting documentary filmmakers to share important stories to inspire collective and individual change across a broad range of issues. We do this by offering fiscal sponsorship (we award approved filmmakers Deductible Gift Recipient Status), access to online resources and in-person training to help films achieve their goals and maximise their social impact.

Does Documentary Australia give money to my project directly? 

No. We do not have a pot of cash to commission or directly fund projects. We offer fiscal sponsorship, so you can seek grants from foundations and solicit tax-deductible donations from individuals and organisations.

Does Documentary Australia help me find funds or grants? 

We do not actively search for grants for individual films, unless you are invited into our Executive Producer + Sweethearts Program. Filmmakers must do their own research, and identify potential donors and foundations. We can provide guidance to filmmakers when they are applying for a grant, and as we hold the DGR status, we will apply for grants on your behalf (i.e. Documentary Australia Foundation becomes the applicant). Please contact us at least three weeks before the deadline to discuss your grant application. We also strongly encourage you to attend a workshop (Sydney, Melbourne + soon to be online) which can set you on the path to finding appropriate grants, and guides you in how to approach individuals. Check out the Resources section which will help get you started.
 

What is DGR status and why does it matter?

Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) Status is an endorsement by the Australian Taxation Office. An organisation with DGR Item-1 status can offer tax-deductions on donations. Documentary Australia Foundation has DGR-status, which means that you (as a sponsored filmmaker) can offer tax-deductible donations to your donors through us. Let them know about this; it is a valuable benefit to donating through Documentary Australia.

How do I get approved for fiscal sponsorship?

Before any given film can receive funding through the Documentary Australia platform, the film project must go through our application and approval process. The Documentary Australia Board meets to approve applications four times per year. See Fiscal Sponsorship to find out the next cut-off date for applications, and to apply.  

How does Documentary Australia choose which projects get approved? 

We have to assess whether your film is a bona fide documentary, and whether the project is likely to be considered suitable for philanthropic support. The key questions that you need to answer are: ‘Why is the film suitable for philanthropic support?’; and ‘What outcomes do you hope to achieve?’. To help you develop your answers to these questions, please see our Resources section.

Donations

Can anyone donate to my film through Documentary Australia?

Not everyone. A person may not donate (and receive the tax-deduction) if they stand to financially gain from your project. They cannot be in an equity position as an owner of the film (ie this is not investment, it is a gift with no promise of financial return). Family members are seen by the tax office as receiving a mutual benefit so they are also prevented from claiming a tax deduction on a donation. You, yourself (as the filmmaker) also cannot receive a tax deduction for a donation to your own film. For more information, please see our Terms + Conditions.
 

Can I offer my donors credits, DVD's or tickets in exchange for donating?

No. We are not like other crowd funding sites that offer different products as incentives to donates. Because all donations are tax-deductible, no goods or services can be given in exchange for the donation. At Documentary Australia, the tax-deductibility is what your donors receive, and your donor cannot “buy” a t-shirt or a DVD as an incentive. You can of course thank your donors with a mention in the film’s credits, or gift them a complimentary DVD once the project is complete. For more information, please see our Terms + Conditions
 

What do I tell people who are interested in donating to my project?

The easiest way to donate is via your campaign page on the Documentary Australia website. The online donation requires a credit card (we accept VISA, MasterCard and American Express). We also accept donations via cheque or bank transfer. If your donor prefers to donate this way, give them the donor form (found in Resources) to fill out and send back to us.

How quickly will the money from donations get sent to me? 

We process and send out donations on a weekly basis. This means that you, as the filmmaker, get access to donation money just days after it was given, rather than at the end of the campaign. Furthermore, your funds are not withheld from you if you do not reach your target (as with other online fundraising platforms). The filmmaker will be asked to provide Documentary Australia with an Australian bank account for the project in order to transfer donations.

Does Documentary Australia take a fee? 

Apart from the application fee at the commencement, we retain 5% of all donations. This is to cover administrative costs of grant processing and receipting. Make sure that you account for this when setting your fundraising your budget.
Further, if we source a donor, manage the reporting process and relationship, or come on board as Executive Producer, the retention fee is 15% (or capped at an agreed fee).

Can Documentary Australia provide me with a list of people who have donated to my film?

Yes, just log on to your account dashboard and click the ‘Export Donors’ button. However, names of donors that have chosen not to share their details during the donation process or have elected to remain anonymous will not be visible.

Applications

Can I get help answering the application questions?

Yes. We have application guidelines that cover all the necessary sections of your application. Read them in the Resources section. If you are still not sure about something, please give us a call 02 9397 1473.

Where/when do I input my bank details? 

When you receive your first donation through Documentary Australia, we will send you a notification asking for your Australian bank account details. If you would like to provide your bank details earlier, please contact us. 

How soon will I know if my application has been successful?

It takes us about a month to process all the applications and then allow for Documentary Australia’s board of directors to assess them. You will receive an email confirming your application’s status once decisions have been made.

Why should I go to a Documentary Australia workshop? 

We host day-long workshops several times a year in Sydney, Melbourne and other States on request.They are run by experienced filmmakers and impact producers. Attending a workshop is an invaluable way to learn how to seek funding, how to run impact campaigns, how to communicate with donors, and much more. The workshops are also an excellent chance to meet other filmmakers who are working to make the world a better place – with their stories – it’s an inspirational day! Learn more here.
 

What is social impact?

According to the University of Michigan’s Centre for Social Impact, social impact is “A significant, positive change that addresses a pressing social challenge.” Achieving a social impact is the result of a deliberate set of activities with a goal around this definition.

Does my film have to fit into one of Documentary Australia’s impact areas?

In response to trends in philanthropic giving, we focus our work around 7 key issues areas:

• Environment
• Health + Wellbeing
• Human Rights + Social Justice
• Indigenous
• The Arts
• Youth + Education
• Women + Girls

We have found that most films that are submitted to Documentary Australia for fiscal sponsorship fit into these areas. Although we focus most of our resources and support in these areas, we are not limited to films around these topics.