Crowd-sourcing has become a significant means of fund-raising for all sorts of projects. But I find it sometimes a bit scattershot, the Ice Bucket Challenge a case in point. But there’s a new, highly-focused – and highly effective – project afoot that sources not only funds, but creative input and advice from the spectrum of stakeholders potentially involved in the making, distribution, impact and success of documentary films around pressing social issues.
The Good Pitch is an initiative of the UK’s Channel 4 and is structured as a series of events involving seven documentary film teams who eventually come together to pitch their projects to a room full of philanthropists, not-for-profits, corporations, funders, broadcasters and policy-makers. It’s such a successful because instead of just raising money and cutting the creators free, the program tracks and networks them right through the food-chain – and through the roof. The prime example is Lee Hirsch’s film Bully, which went to far as to be screened at the White House for President Obama and resulted in 313 million people including Madonna, the Dalai Lama and Justin Bieber tweeting “Take a stand to end bullying. Bully movie.” Amazing stuff.
It’s such a fantastic example of truly creative lateral thinking in action! And it’s inspired me to think smarter, more creatively and more freely about philanthropy and raising money – something I am quite involved in, be that with the MCA, the Australian pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale, the Montessori East school Foundation, and other things along the way. I think there are good lessons in this for everyone.
The lineup of films at the Sydney Good Pitch event covered issues as broad – and as urgent – as indigenous culture, refugees, gay marriage, domestic violence, health and human rights. That is, some of the major issues that can be exposed and assisted through the medium of the documentary. But these documentaries need money (individuals, foundations and institutions), legal advice, marketing, support, etc. The Good Pitch Australia put 300 people who could offer help in the same room (that room being the Opera House!), got the documentary makers to present their concepts – and gave people the opportunity to help on the spot! As each 'pitch' was made people just stood up and lent their support, pledging money, services, etc – they raised a couple of million dollars and put support in place on the day. Zero red tape.
This process made me think a lot about the process getting things happening and how although we all seem more connected through technology, nothing quite compares to getting a bunch of people with right intentions in a real room together. In fact, I often think that the technology actually slows us down, results in more deferral, referral, and confusion. I spend a lot of time in board and committee meetings, each time going home with action items to report on that involve making calls, sending emails, etc - the Good Pitch format just seems so effective, immediate, direct. I'm not saying that other ways don't work, neither that they shouldn't be used. I'm sure they're all complimentary, but we need to thing creatively and efficiently about how we get things done – for charity, for work, for ourselves.