Philanthropic giving to filmmaking falls into two general categories: documentary film and narrative film. Grants related to film projects may include screen writing, cinematography, production, and sound, among other considerations. Film related grants frequently support individual work rather than group projects; however, funds exist for both depending on the funder. This said, philanthropy for film remains modest, but highly highly competitive. All the profiles below and in the local sections are updated regularly. Only paid subscribers can access this resource (subscribe here.)
Grants support social change through the arts, as well as out-of-the-box artists who are socially conscious and socially active. The foundation prioritizes artists working in digital and multimedia.
Astraea funds grants for lesbians and queer women, trans and gender non-conforming people, intersex people, and people of color. The foundation also supports rights organizations that advance racial, economic, and gender-related justice.
Bezos Family Foundation grantees sometimes funds documentary film projects tackling the issue of education and opportunities for students.
Britdoc funds documentary filmmakers who spotlight underreported and unreported topics of importance. It also offers awards to creative storytellers.
This funder's grants support makers of short films and seek to build audiences for short films.
Catapult offers grants to documentary filmmakers and provide informal mentorship to filmmakers.
Cinereach grants are given to small and independent filmmakers involved in creating socially conscious films. They also administer the Reach Film Fellowship program with support from the Ford Foundation.
The Compton Foundation recently revamped its mission to include support for projects with "transformative leadership and courageous storytelling" and that inspires action toward a "peaceful, just, sustainable future." Their film grants are given to documentaries.
Creative Capital grants for film are limited to $50,000, but that’s not all they offer their grantees. Creative Capital grants offer a variety of kinds of support.
The Dobkin Family Foundation funds organizations that help produce films and documentaries that reflect upon social change, among other important topics.
Doc Society, formerly the Britdoc Foundation, offers grants to documentary filmmakers who spotlight unreported and underreported issues; it also offers awards for creative storytellers.
This law firm funder describes itself as “an enthusiastic supporter of cultural programs and initiatives" and prioritizes organizations located in one of the firm’s U.S. locations.
The foundation was created upon the death of famed music publisher Max Dreyfus, who worked with American greats like George Gershwin and Cole Porter.
This low-profile funder offers modest grants to documentary and narrative film projects.
The fund supports documentaries. It also offers filmmakers assistance with distribution strategies and film festivals.
Film Independent offers grants to creative, independent filmmakers and producers whose work supports diversity and "uniqueness of vision.”
Filmmakers Without Borders funds independent filmmakers across the world.
With the motto of “helping stories take flight," the Fledgling Fund's aim is to help smaller films, documentary projects, and "creative media" projects with a social justice angle get off the ground and stay aloft.
This foundation substantially invests in the arts and culture, supporting a range of film projects and programs throughout the United States.
The Freese Documentary Fund awards up and coming documentarians up to $35,000 to finish projects.
Ford’s JustFilms Initiative is enormous. With it comes an enormous amount of competition. If your project has a social justice/human rights angle, you will have a better chance at a Ford grant. JustFilms grants range from $50,000 to $1 million and everywhere in between.
From the Heart Productions awards grants for short films, low budget independent features, web series, and documentaries.
Good Pitch brings documentary filmmakers together with foundations and other partners in a 7-minute, rapid-fire pitch session. Participants then give feedback and decide whether or not to pledge funding and other support.
The Greenbaum Foundation funds documentarians whose work may be categorized within one of the foundation’s areas of grantmaking interest.
Impact Partners supports independent documentary filmmaking that addresses contemporary social issues through grants to filmmakers and through a fellowship program for emerging filmmakers.
ITVS is all about documentaries and programs made for cable or public television. However, it does have a Diversity Development fund that offers grants for films on track for widescreen release. ITVS grants tend to range from between $15,000 to $100,000.
Through its grantmaking, the IDA supports documentary filmmakers with their filmmaking, production, and distribution costs.
This funder funds work benefitting the Middle East in a variety of fields, from film to women’s issues.
The Jerome Foundation supports early career and emerging filmmakers.
The Kentucky Foundation for Women prioritizes women and feminist artists in Kentucky.
The Leeway Foundation supports women and trans artists who create art for social change.
The Jonathan Logan Family Foundation seeks documentary filmmakers and projects focusing on a variety of social justice causes.
The Reva and David Logan Foundation broadly awards grant to filmmakers and filmmaking organizations across the United States.
The MacArthur Foundation provides the public with "high-quality, professionally produced documentary films, deep and analytical journalism, and well-produced news and public affairs programming." At present, all of its support for filmmaking is offered through partner organizations.
While primarily focused on bringing artistic expression into its region, this funder wants that artistic work to come from all around the world. This includes supporting the travel, accommodations, and appearance fees for filmmakers to share their work with the region.
The Mississippi Arts Commission supports artists and arts organizations working in the state.
The Missouri Arts Council supports arts projects within the state.
The North Carolina Arts Council supports artists and arts organizations working in the state.
The National Film Preservation Foundation has a specific commitment—to preserve the catalog of American film. If you're saving a historic and orphaned film, this is the foundation for you.
Park's film grants go to documentary projects that examine civil society, democracy, the environment and animal welfare.
The Princess Grace Foundation awards scholarships to undergraduate and graduate film students.
The foundation established by the celebrated photographer supports human interest documentary filmmaking.
Rosenthal takes a broad approach to funding film-related projects and organizations, which allows it to invest in a variety of projects both locally and nationally in the United States.
The San Francisco Film Society offers an array of support to individual filmmakers, screenwriters, and producers through its Filmmaker360 program, including help with project development, residencies, and a number of different grants.
ScreenCraft provides production grants for short films and online series.
The Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council supports artists and arts development in the region. Its grantmaking encompasses dance, literary arts, theatre, music, and the visual arts.
When it comes to film, Sundance garners more buzz and prestige than any other filmmaking initiative. Getting a nod from them is like being invited into the super-cool kids club.
Surdna's film grants go to artists and organizations whose filmmaking promotes cultural and economic development of their communities.
Time Warner Foundation supports diverse filmmaking schools and institutions.
Tribeca is Sundance’s twin, with equal buzz and prestige. Tribeca even offers small grants for innovative filmmaking.
United States Artists gives out as many as 50 unrestricted $50,000 grants directly to artistic creators each year. Support for filmmakers is a significant aspect of this giving. It's a competitive grant.
The Wallace Global Fund supports activities that are either national or global in scope.
The Weissberg Foundation supports film and filmmaking organizations with annual budgets of $2.5 million or less.
Women In Film offers scholarships, grants, mentorship, and funds to female filmmakers and producers to finish their films.
Other Notable Funders
Heinz Endowment: Supporting film and video efforts in greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and surrounding cities. Grant amounts are far and wide ranging.