Documentary Australia

Frequently asked questions

◊ Read the FAQs specifically related to the new website here

Watch the below video for a quick introductory tour of the new website, how to navigate it, new functions and the perks of creating an account.

Play Video

General FAQs

Project funding

Established in 2008, Documentary Australia 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 (Deductible Gift Recipient Status), access to online resources and in-person training to help films achieve their goals and maximise their social impact.

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.

We do not actively search for grants for individual films, unless you are invited into our Films in Focus 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.

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.
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.  
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.


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.  
No. We are not like other crowd funding sites that offer different products as incentives to donate. 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.   
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.
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.
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).
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.


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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.


You can continue to update your project while it is still in draft, and also after it has been approved. You cannot update your project after you have submitted it for approval, until your project has been approved. 

To continue to update/edit your project:
• Login and navigate to your dashboard
• Under the ‘campaigns’ menu, click on my campaigns
• Here you will see a list of your campaigns and an edit button which will allow you to edit this existing project. If you make changes to a tab make sure you click update on that tab before moving to the next or you may lose your work.

Your video’s privacy settings may be restricting our website from embedding your video. You will need to set the video for ‘anyone’ to be able to view it and that you either allow it to be embedded ‘anywhere’ or you can add our URL:

More info here:

If you would like your video to remain private and just share it with Documentary Australia staff, you can add the link and password into the ‘screener’ field in the media tab of your application.

The end date of your campaign is controlled by the ‘fundraising date’ field in your proposed timeline. This can be found under the ‘Project Information’ tab in your application. You can also set your ‘end method’ under the ‘Fundraising Strategy’ tab. You can choose an end date, end $ goal, both, or no end.

The funding goal or target is populated in the ‘fundraising strategy’ tab in the field “How much (total) are you aiming to raise through grants and donations?*”