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

Case Two: “Jack London: 20th Century Man — Compassion Clinches a Major Gift

So I left off in my last blog post for Case Two with my saga of the major donor who would not be reasonable. This is the guy who had promised to give me $50K for a documentary if I raised another $50K first. I promised to tell you how I responded when he got a little hot under the collar. I said in the last post that I was like a tiger waiting in the bushes at the watering hole for the gazelle to lower its head and extend its neck. So true. When I’m fundraising, the end goal of receiving the funds remains branded into my field of vision like an unwavering angelic avatar. No matter what happens, I don’t give up on that goal But sometimes, donors make life hard. Like this guy. When he asked me how long it would take to edit the film after we completed the total $100K fundraising campaign, I told him about a year. He immediately heated up. Although I was talking to him on the phone, I could envision him shooting out of his seat like a rocket upon ignition. “That’s totally unacceptable! When I build a building, it does not take a whole year!” He was inexperienced with film and filmmakers, but he was very experienced with building a business. Actually, a fast-food restaurant chain. THAT he understood. I knew I had to be careful. I did not want him to spook and run away, taking his $50K with him. So I tried to see if from his point of view. Why was he so agitated about the idea of our taking a year to edit? That’s when I had an insight. He was 86 years old. Consciously or unconsciously, he may have feared that he would not be around in a year to see the completed film. Once I saw things that way, I realized that he just needed assurance that we would indeed begin to make progress soon, that there would be rough-cuts along the way to the final film, that we would show him different cuts as they became available. I smoothed him down. I ensured him that we were going to raise the additional $50K — because I was monitoring my progress very closely and had projected a percentage of probability in a spreadsheet for each and every prospect I had included in my campaign outreach. I knew I had enough bankable income that would take me to the $50K and therefore to the right to claim his challenge gift. I needed to be calm, cool, collected — and compassionate. When people, including successful, rich, powerful guys, act strangely, you can almost always bet that fear is playing a role. Once you know this, then it’s your responsibility to act like a human being and not a scared rabbit with your successful, rich, powerful benefactor. In the end, my approach paid off. The donor was calmed down and cooled off. In the end, we met the goal, secured his gift, and now we are in the post-production process. Thank you, Almighty Buddha! (Photo, public domain image — Riparian brush rabbits endangered mammal species sylvilagus bachmani riparius by Lee Eastman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

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: http://hollymillion.com

Leave a Reply