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Documentary Film Grants

Expand Your Vision

Finding funding for documentaries is much healthier than finding funding for narrative works. There are many special interests groups, organizations, fiscal sponsors, and grants available for documentaries, but be aware that they are very competitive. In a competitive playing field, preparation plus perseverance, can sometimes tip the hat in your favor.

Fiscal Sponsorship

Securing funding for a documentary is often twofold. For larger amounts, you will need first, a fiscal sponsor, before you may apply for a more substantial grant. A fiscal sponsor is a third party organization with usually a 20-year or more track record in the industry that acts as a go-between. They collect the money on your behalf and distribute it to you in phases after you successfully hit preset milestones. 

The fiscal sponsor ensures that you use the money for what you said you will use for, stay on-time and on-budget, and provides you with guidance through development through distribution. 

Be aware, the larger organizations who provide high dollar amount grants, similarly to Hollywood, almost exclusively fund only the most prestigious and biggest names already established in the entertainment industry. The nonprofit, THE FILM COLLABORATIVE, maintains a list of documentary fiscal sponsors.

Search THE FILM COLLABORATIVE List of Fiscal Sponsors

Documentary Film Grants

Documentary film grants are frequently special issues based ranging from subject matter, gender, identity, nationality, project scope, project status, and career stage. Either you, or your project, will not be eligible for every documentary grant. In reality, you might not be eligible for most. However, you will still be able to find a healthy amount of grants for which you may apply.

The International Documentary Association (IDA) maintains one of the largest databases of documentary film grants and fiscal sponsors. Their searchable database has over +500 documentary film grants listed.

Search the IDA Documentary Grants Directory.

Creating your Documentary Proposal and Applying to Fiscal Sponsors and Grants

After you’ve identified a list of documentary film grants and/or fiscal sponsors, this is where preparation plus perseverance is ignited in your documentary film proposal. Wrapbook offers a getting started checklist that will walk you through the preparation of your proposal.

Read, Documentary Grants: Building a Proposal & How to Apply.