Jumpstart Your Fundraising!

Purchase Course (videos/slides) for $37.50:

Our most recent class was held April 20, 27 and May 4, 2024, however, recordings and slides for the course are available at 1/2 price for $37.50 (full price was $75).
Please email us for more information

“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.” – Student, 2022 (see many more testimonials below)

Learn how to fund your independent film in this three-session Zoom course. Award-winning documentary director and fundraiser Peter McDowell (see bio below) shares his knowledge, advice, tips, and tricks on how to raise money for your project through individual fundraising campaigns—featuring special guests such as Rachel Elizabeth Seed (bio below), who funded her $1M documentary film through a mix of individual donations, grants, and investors. Peter will share his Top 10 Tips for film fundraising as well as answer any questions and help you strategize for your current project.

For three Saturdays (April 20, 27, and May 4 2024), you will meet live on Zoom for an interactive course with Peter McDowell and special guests, where you can ask specific questions about your project. The course will be held Saturdays from 11-12:30 pacific (2-3:30 pm eastern time).

Week one: Intro and overview of film fundraising fundamentals – how I raised $250,000
Week two: Diving deep into fundraising campaigns – virtual events and matching campaigns
Week three: In-person events and end-of-year / Giving Tuesday fundraising

Curriculum (subject to change):

Among many other topics, we will cover:
• Identifying a goal
• Getting a fiscal sponsor
• Creating a website
• Writing a budget
• Putting yourself out there via email, social media, and 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
• Planning for virtual events – which platform to use?
• Host committees
• To charge or not to charge?
• Tiered ticket pricing
• Online auctions
• In-person events
• The four stages of donor relations
• Staying in touch with high-level donors
• Investors vs. donors
• “Peer-to-peer” fundraising



Peter 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 has since screened at 40 festivals worldwide including Frameline in San Francisco and the Athens International Film Festival, winning 15 awards, including BEST DOCUMENTARY in Chicago, Dublin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Torino and many more. Peter raised $300,000 from 750 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.

Peter also made the short, I Dream of Dorothy, which screened at the Frameline Festival and 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 elements 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.

Past Special Guests include:

Originally from London, Rachel Elizabeth Seed is a Brooklyn-based nonfiction storyteller working in film, photography and writing. She is a 2020 Sundance Institute, Chicken + Egg Pictures, NYFA NYC Women’s Fund, and National Arts Club fellow, and a 2019 Sundance Edit & Story Lab fellow and Sundance Documentary Fund recipient for her feature film, A Photographic Memory. Rachel’s work has also been supported by Field of Vision, the Jerome Foundation, NYSCA, the Maine Media Workshops, the Roy W. Dean grant and IFP. Rachel’s writing on film financing and other industry topics has been published by No Film School, the Sundance Institute, and Talkhouse and she is co-founder of the Brooklyn Documentary Club, a thriving NYC-based filmmaker collective with 250+ members.

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 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.

I am a first-time filmmaker and am aware I have a lot to learn. Peter’s fundraising class has been invaluable for one of the most important part of my journey: I can’t make a film without money.

Peter covered all potential sources of funding. He also shared his personal experience using them while fundraising for his own film. His years as a fundraiser for arts organizations gave him additional insight in how to develop relationships with funders. I feel much more prepared as I begin to seek financial support for my film.