close icon

Development   /  Carolyn Johnson

The Art of Giving

An eclectic group of fundraisers spend a year raising money for kids in need, then take an unlikely reward.


Impact areas






  • DIRECTOR Christopher Houghton

  • PRODUCER Carolyn Johnson & Julie Byrne



The Art of Giving tells the story of six charity workers dedicated to helping children in need, driven by the belief that no matter who you are or what you have, it is possible to make a difference to a life that isn’t your own.

Taking place over a year, the film follows their tireless fundraising, noting what they give, how they make choices, the challenges they face, and what they receive in return. Through them the broader issues of volunteering and donating are explored. Their fundraising year culminates in the reward of a crazy ten-day road trip across outback Australia with the famous Variety Bash. The samaritans let their hair down, celebrate hitting their targets, and catch a glimpse of some of the children they have helped. At the end of the road they return to ordinary life, and start the next 365-day fundraising cycle, if they choose to do it all again. We all make choices about what we give. The Art of Giving explores the psychology of charity and the rewards of giving.

Support this project

0% funded
  • $150,000.00

  • $0.00

  • 31st May 2021

  • 0

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $




Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

With the rising cost of living and shrinking government support for social services, the vulnerable and disadvantaged are ever more at risk. Charities and volunteers are integral parts of our society and economy. In 2018 Australia was rated the second most charitable country in the world. This film celebrates Australia’s generous nature whilst examining the complexities of charity. Bearing witness to the personal benefits of a generous life, this film aims to stoke the charitable fire, inspiring all Australians to continue to contribute to the health of the global family.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

The film and our campaign are an emotional and poignant reminder of what it means to give, that we can all do something for others, no matter our circumstances. We aim to provoke household and public discussion around our relationship with charity, heighten awareness of humanitarian values and create a groundswell of giving. We aim to promote mindful giving. We want a global increase in charitable and philanthropic giving by inciting people to ask themselves “how else might I choose to give?”.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

Short Term:
1) Promote philanthropy: no matter where you come from, how much you have, making a positive difference in the lives of others is entirely achievable and personally enriching.
2) A practical understanding of the link between empowering others and the health of community and the nation.

Medium Term:
1) An increase in donations and volunteer activity for a broad range of causes.
2) An increase in positive action within the educational sector that connects students to people and communities of disadvantage.

Long Term:
1) A change in the way Australia discusses and participates in philanthropy. That philanthropy is celebrated as a community responsibility because we know it contributes to the health of our nation in very real terms.
2) An increase in the international standing of Australia as a giving nation.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

The Art of Giving will achieve its outcomes by being enjoyable and engaging to watch, by being widely seen, by linking screenings with philanthropic and charitable organisations, and by the provision of tools for the education sector.

Specifically this includes:
Cinema, home, inflight, TV and special event screenings;
Partner screening with Variety;
Making the film accessible as a discussion-starter for events organised by third parties;
Making the film available through VOD.

The provision of study guides, media packs (including short movie clips) that target varied year levels. As extensions to the study guide, teaching aids will include materials that expand awareness of the impact of giving and call-to-action information about how people can enact change.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

Variety Australia is embedded in the story and highly supportive of The Art of Giving. Variety SA will provide practical support – infrastructure, equipment, administration, publicity- and crucial networking support. To date it has helped negotiate access to charity workers, Bash teams and support crew, recipient children, families and communities.

The concept is informed by the director filming previous Variety Bashes. The Art of Giving broadens the focus to the whole fundraising cycle, and the bigger issues of giving and volunteering in general. We plan to engage additional charity and NGO partners.

Variety Australia has relationships with commercial broadcasters (Nine and Seven) and during the Bash, generates on-track reportage that appears as news items on Channel 10. It also has solid relationships with other players in the philanthropic sector.

Variety International has relationships with US and European cinema chains, and board representation with NBC, Netflix and Sony.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

1. Instigate conversations within families, households and friends about their Giving policies, and the reasons and rewards driving their choices.

2. A call to action in the final credits of the film will direct people to get involved in philanthropic action. The call to action will be to ‘make a difference in your world’. It will nominate a website to access more information. The call to action will list a number of ways in which people can contribute.

3. The Art of Giving website will provide ways to access media materials and education packs that promote awareness of philanthropic action. It will also promote opportunities to host screenings and facilitate ancillary discussion on the act of philanthropy and its links to the health of community.

4. We hope they will dig deeper into their pockets. Give more. Either time or money.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

Media stories – directly and indirectly generated through publicity for this film - feeding the national conversation about people’s Giving practices.

An increase in volunteering and charitable donations. We plan to consult with Variety and other partners to refine our measurement tools. The project is in its developmental stage and developing these measurement tools is part of that process. We hope to be able to partner up with an existing charity’s data collection processes rather than re-invent the wheel. We are looking for an effective and resource-efficient measuring tool, and are certain it will come out of our discussions with potential partners in the NGO sector.