What Are Our Criteria?
Film and Creative Media Grants
Most of these grants support outreach and audience engagement for social issue documentaries and range from smaller planning grants to implementation grants for projects that have a clear plan ready to launch. A small number of these grants support post-production for timely projects that have strong social change potential. They typically range from $5K to $30K and are considered in our Spring and Fall funding cycles. To understand how we think about outreach and audience engagement, please review our Resources.
Our criteria include:
- Strength of the Film. Do we find it compelling? Does it tell an important and timely story? Does it add a unique perspective or new information? Do we connect with the characters? Does the story inspire us? Motivate us to act? Review our funded projects to better understand what we look for.
- Stage of Project. Can we see enough of the film to understand how the story develops and whether it can carry the project’s goals? Do we understand how it likely will be distributed? Typically projects are at least at the rough cut stage. Given our focus on outreach and audience engagement, we rarely consider projects that are still in development or early production.
- Needs of the Movement. Who will use this film? Does the project have partnerships with nonprofits/activists in place or plans to develop them? How will it advance their work?
- Strength of the Proposal. Does the proposal demonstrate a commitment to social change? Do we see that the campaign is at least in development? Do we have a good sense of possible target audiences and how the film can activate them? Review our Resources page to better understand how we think about activating audiences.
- Issue Area. Does the project focus on at least one of our priority issue areas? Visit our Films page for more information on our current focus areas.
Field Building Grants
These grants focus on building the capacity of our grantees and the social issue documentary field. They range from programs, institutes and residencies that strengthen outreach and audience engagement skills to film festivals and other events that showcase social issue documentaries as a tool for change. The are usually between $5K and $25K and are considered in the Spring and Fall funding cycles. Please visit our field building page to understand what we look for in these projects.
Our criteria include:
- Strength of Proposal. Does the proposal articulate a clear strategy for the program or event as well as the capacity to plan, implement and assess its impact?
- Importance to Field. How does it advance the social issue documentary field? Does it fill a need or test a new idea for audience engagement? What unique value does the project add? How does it compare to similar projects?
- Connections and Collaboration. Does the program or event bring together different stakeholders to brainstorm, network and share their knowledge? Does it create opportunities for collaboration?
We are committed to understanding and communicating both the quantitative and qualitative impact that social issue documentary, and more specifically, the impact our grantees have. We know this is hard to capture. That is why we have special impact grants for our grantees. We want to help them assess, document and communicate their project’s impact on individuals, communities, corporations and policy makers. There are two kinds of impact grants we offer to our grantees:
- Documenting Impact. Grants for short videos or other media that captures, explains and communicates impact (Up to $10K)
- Evaluating Impact. Grants for the design or implementation of a structured evaluation effort (Up to $20K)
These grants are available only to Fledgling grantees.
What Does the Process Look Like?
Film and Creative Media or Field Building Grants
- Submit a Letter of Inquiry. You may do this during one of our two funding cycles. This provides an opportunity for you to introduce us to your project and goals.
- Fledgling Reviews all Letters of Inquiry. We look at the goals, your funding needs and the strength of the letter of inquiry.
- Fledgling Invites Full Applications. We invite full applications for those projects that, at least on paper, meet our criteria.
- Submit a Full Application. At this stage, invited projects expand on the letter of inquiry and submit a complete budget. If applying for a film or creative media grant, we request the latest cut of the film.
- Fledgling Reviews all Applications and Media. We look at the strength of the complete application, its fit with our criteria and how it compares to other projects under consideration.
- Fledgling Notifies Applicants. We notify applicants about our decisions as they are made. All applicants will be notified by the close of the cycle.
Available only to Previous Fledgling Grantees
Applications for Impact Grants are considered on a rolling basis. Only Fledgling grantees are eligible to apply. Interested grantees should contact Emily Verellen or Sheila Leddy for more information.
Who Can Apply?
We welcome applicants and projects from both inside and outside of the United States. However, before receiving a grant, all applicants must have a fiscal sponsor based in the United States. This does not need to be in place for you to submit the letter of inquiry or the application but it must be in place for the funds to be disbursed.