Fundraising Courses for Filmmakers and other Creative Artists


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This course focuses on raising money from individuals – not through foundations or governmental grants. It is ideally suited to creatives who are ready to raise money for a project and are willing to consider individual giving as a strategy. With individual giving, you can get results quickly, begin to build your team, and make tangible progress. This in turn increases the likelihood of more donations. While the examples in this course are drawn from filmmaking, the principles can be applied to other forms of artmaking, such as music (composition, recordings, performances), dance, etc.

Testimonials from previous course-takers:
Peter’s class really helped me understand better what resources I already have access to and helped me formulate a plan to reach out to potential donors. I went from being totally overwhelmed to excited to begin this process!
Peter McDowell’s class was generous, beautifully organized, and packed with practical information and smart tips. He had an uncanny ability to demystify the thorny dilemma of how to ask for money. Highly recommended for novice and experienced filmmakers.
Peter’s approach was quiet confidence; stressing the work that this requires, but making it all seem doable.
Peter’s course on fundraising for filmmakers provides a wealth (hmm, pun not intended, but appropriate!) of practical tools and tactics for indie filmmakers looking to raise money from individuals, beyond the usual traditional and often crazily competitive traditional sources (film grants)
I learned a ton of practical info and great tips during this class. Helpful and encouraging. Thanks, Peter for sharing your experience and wisdom on fundraising!
Stop whining about not getting a big grant. Peter McDowell can show you the way on raising funds on your own and building partnerships.

I consider myself fortunate to have taken the Peter Mcdowell Fund Raising For Filmmakers course. Peter was generous to share his craft of raising money for his documentary. Attending his course has taken away my apprehension to reaching out to my base of potential supporters. I am in the midst of using what I have learned, in this well crafted workshop, and I am confident that I will raise significant funds for my film. — Congratulations to all your film festival activities; I am impressed.

I highly recommend Peter’s workshop. It’s a completely hands-on, no nonsense guide for how to fund your independent film through finding and cultivating private donors. Peter is generous about sharing his own experiences making his film “Jimmy in Saigon”, and provides valuable insights and written materials participants can easily adapt for their own purposes.



Peter McDowell is the Director and Producer of the feature documentary Jimmy in Saigon, which had its World Premiere at the British Film Institute’s Flare Festival in March 2022 and will have its North American Premiere at Miami’s OUTshine festival in April. Peter raised nearly $200,000 from more than 500 donors to fund Jimmy in Saigon, and is the recipient of grants from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the California Humanities Council.

In the early 1990s, Peter made two Super 8 short films that played at San Francisco’s Frameline Film Festival. One of those shorts, I Dream of Dorothy, went on to festivals worldwide. In addition to filmmaking, Peter works as an arts producer and fundraiser, which has helped him bridge the creative aspects of filmmaking with the more managerial aspects essential for production.

Peter is the recipient of a highly competitive three-year DeVos Institute for Arts Management International Fellowship and has served in executive and fundraising roles with four time GRAMMY®-winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird as well as with American Friends of the Louvre.

Curriculum (subject to change):

Week one: Overview

In this module, we will talk about what individual giving means and what steps are necessary. We’ll also talk about the low rates for getting grants and why this means individual giving is a much more reliable path forward, either by itself or as a multi-part strategy that also includes grant writing.

We will cover:
• Identifying a goal
• Getting a fiscal sponsor
• Creating a website
• Writing a budget
• Putting yourself out there via email, social media, individual contacts
• Tracking of donations and sending thank you emails or texts or letters
• Creating a tiered giving program
• Offering perks at various levels
• Crowdfunding
• Communication: progress, milestones, and asks
• Updating stakeholders through simple online events

► Week two: Virtual events and high-level donors

• Planning
• Host committees
• Which platform to use?
• To charge or not to charge?
• Tiered ticket pricing
• Online auctions
• In-person events
• The four stages of donor relations
• Staying in touch
• Investors vs. donors
• “Peer-to-peer” fundraising