Documentary Australia

How to seek philanthropic funding

There are hundreds of philanthropic givers around Australia.

1. Identify

The best source of information about which ones are active, what they fund and how often they call for applications is Philanthropy Australia’s Directory of Funders. It’s an invaluable source of information, and organisations can access it for an annual fee. 

If you can’t access that directory, then it’s time to do some research. There are a few free directories online you can find, as well as using a regular search engine. You can often search for grants and available funding, together with the issues you are addressing and the location of your project.  

Draw up your own list of funders and head to their websites to find out more.

2. Qualify

Make a shortlist of appropriate foundations according to your subject. Make sure you have the most recent guidelines. Many foundations publish annual reports that detail the kinds of projects they have supported.

Once you have matched the interests of your project with those of the funders, be realistic with what you can expect from any one grant. You may need to make several submissions to different foundations, to build your financial plan with small grants from different sources.

Different foundations may fund different aspects of the project depending on their aims and objectives. Foundations speak to each other and collaborate on projects. If you receive funding from a foundation, ask them who else may be interested in awarding a grant to your documentary.

Once you have identified foundations and individuals, establish what they are looking for and specifically address their points.  Each foundation requires specific information, but there are general similarities between the kinds of questions they ask.

3. Approach

Speak to someone from the foundation, begin building relationships and get to know their exact areas of priority.

Be resourceful when seeking partners for your project. Who supports projects in your area of interest? For example, to seek funding for a program about the environment or wildlife, research who contributes to conservation and wildlife projects or organisations. For a profile on an individual artist’s biography check the programs of galleries that list donors. For an indigenous story, look for the list of donors of indigenous festivals or other programs with Aboriginal content.

Define the overlap between your work and the purpose of the foundation or charitable organisation.

Put like minds together. Approaching philanthropic support means thinking differently about how to finance with smaller amounts across different stages of the project.