News from the Field

New mapping tool helps impact producers find funders

By Lisa Niedermeyer | Director of Client Development, Fractured Atlas

Media Impact Funders, a network made up of philanthropists working to create social change through media, has partnered with the Foundation Center to launch a free database and mapping tool of grants and other funding opportunities.

For impact producers working in media and film, finding philanthropic support in alignment with specific causes and communities takes major research. While there are no short cuts to good prospecting and relationships, this new tool certainly lightens the load.

As a non-profit technology company serving artists, Fractured Atlas is all about empowering people with information about funding sources worth your valuable time investment — time away from your critical creative work. While there are a number of documentary film grant lists out there on the internet (International Documentary Association has one of the most comprehensive, and of course the Foundation Directory Online is a ‘go to’ for research), the unique value I see in this new mapping tool is this: You are ONLY looking at funders of media who believe in the power of storytelling to make change. Also, media is broadly defined on the map and includes documentary, photo journalism, online platforms, transmedia, games and more. Impact producers, you can be confident you are searching within the right network with this tool.

Before you click through and start exploring on your own, here are my tips learned from leveraging the Media Impact Funders database in my role as Director of Client Development at Fractured Atlas, where I coach our fiscally sponsored projects:

  1. Explore the ‘Population Served’ search filter options. Your impact project is ultimately about and for people. The funders who care about the same people you’re serving through your storytelling are the funders you want to have on your radar. This is important not only for funding, but also for potential partnerships and screenings. Because many social impact media projects are intersectional, you will want to think about the multiple populations you serve. Think broadly.
  2. Get creative with your ‘Keyword’ search options. Keyword matches are made from the one- to two-sentence description of the media project, written from the funders’ perspective (because they are the ones reporting the grants into the database). So, for example if you are making a documentary about the militarization of policing in America and want to see who else is funding around this topic, you might search for projects that received funding using words such as ‘police’, ‘democracy’, ‘privacy’, ‘criminal justice system’, and ‘counter surveillance’. Your taglines and marketing language are less useful here, and this is the space to get creative with the descriptors from other points of view.
  3. Don’t forget about outreach campaigns. There is funding out there for more than just production expenses. Outreach campaigns often include media and are a whole other phase of expense and funding for producers. This tool lets you search by ‘Support Strategy’ and ‘Outreach’.
  4. Use the ‘Constellations’ visualizer. The database search results default to a list view, however it can often be difficult to get an intuitive snapshot when looking at a spreadsheet. By using the constellations view, that data is visualized and you can immediately see who is coming together around a specific topic, and see the different levels of support.
  5. Provide thoughtful feedback. The folks behind this new tool are genuine, and are actively seeking feedback on how to make this data actionable within the field (shout out to project lead Sarah Armour-Jones, who currently works as a consultant for Media Impact Funders and the Rita Allen Foundation). Once you have dug in and given this new tool a thorough dance across the floor, suggestions can be sent by email through the mapping tool.

Okay, ready to jump in and explore? You can also check out this 10 minute video tutorial of the database, and there is an FAQ on the site.

As director of Client Development for the nonprofit technology company Fractured Atlas, Lisa Niedermeyer champions artists to develop their fundraising portfolio in service ambitious creative vision. Through Fractured Atlas’ fiscal sponsorship program, media makers and other artists have raised over $100,000,000.

This piece originally appeared on fracturedatlas.org on Jan. 25, 2017. Fractured Atlas is a nonprofit technology company that helps artists with the business aspects of their work. To learn more or to get involved, click here.

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