Philanthropic Funding for Documentaries in Canada

How can strategic partnerships between the philanthropic and documentary sectors be developed to finance Canadian documentaries, specifically their promotion and distribution?

This study by the Documentary Organization of Canada examines initiatives that have been successfully introduced in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States and presents opportunities for Canada’s documentary industry. It provides an understanding of their characteristics and how they may be applied to the Canadian context.

This non-exhaustive review includes a list of lessons learned from these international initiatives as well as a comparative analysis of these jurisdictions’ and Canada’s tax regulations. It proposes an industry-wide action plan to implement a Canadian initiative supporting documentaries that follow a social impact strategy.

The report presents a number of promising indicators for philanthropic donations to documentaries dealing with social issues. For example:

  • There are approximately 10,500 private and public foundations in Canada, and their number has grown significantly over the past 20 years.

  • In 2013, public and private foundations in Canada held combined assets of $55 billion and made grants totaling $4.6 billion.

  • Funder affinity groups and giving circles reflect the growing trend to pool knowledge and resources to support social causes.

  • Social finance and the civic tech movement, which includes crowdfunding, also point to an evolving philanthropic sector. There are currently some 1,250 crowdfunding platforms globally.

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