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Funding Resources for Documentary Creators

Do the line items never seem to end? Learn how to strategize and secure diversified funding for your documentary.

Photo from Northfolk / Unsplash

Fiscal Sponsorship

Fiscal sponsorship is a formal arrangement in which a public charity agrees to sponsor a project for the purpose of fundraising through grants and donations. This is an effective alternative to starting your own nonprofit; it allows you to seek private and government grants and tax-deductible donations for your documentary. While there are several forms of fiscal sponsorship in the US, the most common arrangement for documentary projects is known as "comprehensive fiscal sponsorship" or Model C. In Australia, the term auspicing is used instead of sponsoring.

For nearly 30 years, IDA's Fiscal Sponsorship Program has helped independent documentary projects of all types get funded, finished and seen. Our sponsored projects have access to a comprehensive fundraising platform that includes individual donations, recurring donations, peer-to-peer fundraising, crowdfunding campaigns, and ticketed events. Additionally, we have partnerships with both Kickstarter and Seed & Spark. 

IDA Funds

Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund

The Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund supports feature-length documentary films that reflect the spirit and nature of legendary documentary filmmaker Pare Lorentz's work.

IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund

The IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund provides production and development funds to feature-length documentary films taking on in-depth explorations of original, contemporary stories and integrating journalistic practice into the filmmaking process. In addition to funds, grantees will receive additional resources and expertise tailored to the needs of the project.

Find Other Funders

The Documentary Core Application Project

The Documentary Core Application is a collaborative effort by grantors who regularly fund documentary projects to standardize application requirements, with the aim of fostering greater access and a more equitable and sustainable documentary field.

IDA Grants and Fellowship Directory

Looking for funding, fellowship or workshop opportunities for your documentary? IDA has the most comprehensive database for filmmakers around the world.

How to Raise Funds



  • IDA's Introduction to Documentary Budgeting: learn how to prepare a professional documentary budget from scratch, from considering the fundraising process and spending scenarios to the budget topsheet to detailed line items. Read More

Fiscal Sponsorship

  • Click here for the directory of all fiscal sponsors in the US.
  • Planning a party for your sponsored project? Here are a few tips... Read More
  • "Guidelines for Comprehensive Fiscal Sponsorship" from National Network of Fiscal Sponsors  Read More
  • Information sheet on auspice agreements from the Arts Law Centre of Australia read more
  • 10 Questions Potential Projects Should Ask a Fiscal Sponsor Read More
  • Why filmmakers need a fiscal sponsor and tips from three fiscal sponsorship program managers Read More
  • Primer on foundations, fiscal Sponsors and government agencies  Read More

Grant Writing


  • Five Essential Steps to Better Pitching Read More
  • Selling Your Project in Seven Minutes or Less at Pitch Forums Read More
  • The Risks and Rewards of International Pitch Forums Read More
  • Key Factors to Consider When Evaluating Oversees Incentives for Documentary Productions Read More


  • IDA's Comprehensive Crowdfunding Tool Kit: Tips From the Professionals Read More
  • Kickstarter's Liz Cook Charts a Sustainable Path for Documentary Crowdfunding Read More
  • Funds from the Madding Crowd: Raising Money through the Internet Read More

Foundation Support

Equity Investment

  • A Guide on How to Treat Your Equity Investment Funders Read More

Corporate Funding

  • Taking the Corporate Route to Funding Your Project Read More

Books to Read

  • Shaking the Money Tree: The Art of Getting Grants and Donations for Film and Video Projects Read More
  • The Art of Film Funding: Alternative Financing Concepts Read More