Nuts, bolts, hot tips, and road-tested information from Holly Million for indie filmmakers raising money

With You, Case One: Feet on the Ground

When we got ready to launch our fundraising campaign for “With You,” we first set our goal, our deadline, and our purpose. Once that job was done, our next task was to amass our arsenal — I mean toolkit, of tools and devices we needed in order to run a successful campaign. I have to watch myself sometimes. The language of war seems to creep into the fundraising lingo sometimes. And this is nothing like war. It’s more like building a community — a community of like-minded people who want to work with you and each other to achieve a goal you all believe in. So, we started work on our toolkit. The toolkit is how you put your feet on the ground and have a strong, steady platform to move forward from. We needed a website with specific language about the campaign. That included a prominent button with a few succinct words about donating right on the home page. Then, we needed a donation page that gave a bit more information and had a link to our online donation page via our fiscal sponsor. That way, with just two clicks, people could go to a secure, online donation page where they could donate by credit card. We also gave instructions on how to donate by check, just for those who don’t like to give their credit card info online. Next, I wrote a one-page letter that described the campaign goal, deadline, and purpose and which gave a “Call to Action.” In the fundraising world, you’re always channeling your activity to the call to action. That’s where you activate people as donors. The letter was printed out and mailed to a select group of people who don’t use the Internet or who are going to be asked for larger amounts of money. This letter contained a reply envelope with our mailing address affixed to it. Then, we set up an EventBrite page to use for the fundraising event we planned to cap our fundraising campaign. By using this tool, we could sell “tickets” to our event in advance, and EventBrite would deduct a small fee. We set ticket prices from $35 to $1,000, allowing people to select what they wanted to give. This made it much easier for us to see who was coming and to ensure that they would give prior to the event. When the money is in your hand, it’s in your hand! When the money is still a promise, who knows? Lots of people gave at the $35 level, and a handful gave at the $1,000 level, including some who knew they would be unable to attend in person. Another tool we created was three short clips from the film that we could show at the event. If you’re making a film, the best draw for an event is sharing something from the work in progress. With all of these tools in our hands, we were able to launch our campaign. Find out more next time about how we secured some major gifts as part of the campaign, how we enlisted lieutenants from the closest friends of the film to help tap their own networks for bigger gifts, and how we kept up the excitement level and awareness of our entire donor prospect list to ensure that we would meet our goal. — In fundraising solidarity, Holly Million (Public domain image by Leigh B. Shaklee)

About the author

Have a project you want someone to manage? Have a job that needs to be done professionally, on time, and under budget? That is what I do. I am “The Super Producer.” I take ideas and make them real. My services support fundraising, films, events, publications, and organizations. I assess the situation, prepare the plan, design the fundraising, hire the team, administer the budget, manage the timeline, and guide the project to successful completion. Put me in charge of your project. – See more at:

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