5 Valuable Lessons From Films On Fundraising For Small Charities

by Lauren Armstrong

18 December 2023
Much like the film industry, the world of fundraising for small charities relies on storytelling, emotional connection, and the power of a compelling narrative. Whether you’re a charity in the heart of the UK or a global non-profit powerhouse, did you know that the silver screen can offer valuable insights into the art of fundraising? This article considers five essential fundraising lessons inspired by iconic films that can help you raise money for a good cause and make a meaningful impact in the non-profit sector. 
Et, Extraterrestrial, Creature image

1. Crafting an Unforgettable Story: E.T. 

Remember the heart-warming tale of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial”? At the centre of this Spielberg classic is friendship, empathy, and the profound bond between a young boy and a stranded alien. Equally, in the non-profit industry, developing a memorable story is key to successful fundraising. Donors don’t just give to causes; they give to stories that touch their hearts. For small charities, their narrative must be as compelling and striking as E.T.’s journey home. Furthermore, your fundraising story should convey a clear purpose and vision, highlighting the lives you aim to impact. Aim to take potential donors on a journey, like Elliott did with E.T., showing them how their contributions will make a difference. As shown above, using real-life stories, personal testimonials and visual approaches creates an emotional connection with your audience. 

Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Karolyn Grimes in the American film It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).

 2. It’s a Wonderful Life and the Value of Supporters

With Christmas just around the corner, now is the time to celebrate giving with this film’s fabulous festive appeal. Firstly, it highlights how an ordinary life can be made extraordinary by recognising that everything we do for each person matters. The classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” beautifully illustrates the importance of appreciating and nurturing the relationships you’ve built. This indicates the need for small charities to encourage gratitude and maintain long-term connections with those who donate. Likewise, it is important to show supporters how their contributions have changed lives. Charities should strive to keep people engaged with regular updates on projects, events, and success stories. Undeniably, it is essential for UK fundraising efforts to build a community of loyal supporters who feel valued and appreciated.

The Social Network Film

3. Digital Fundraising for Small Charities in the 21st Century: The Social Network

“The Social Network” brings the story of Facebook’s rise to the big screen, showing how the Internet can transform our lives. In the sphere of fundraising, there are similar opportunities for small charities. Social media and websites are powerful tools that can rapidly expand their reach. In particular, online donation platforms in the UK can leverage the online world to create engaging digital fundraising campaigns. In addition, connecting with a wider audience, sharing compelling stories, and utilising online donation platforms can make a considerable impact. Just as the story behind this film transformed social interaction, charities can refine their fundraising efforts through digital innovation.

Robert Carlyle

 4. The Importance of Connection: The Full Monty

When it comes to fundraising, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. The unfamiliar might be scary, but it can pay off big time. This is truly shown in this 1997 comedy-drama film. Regardless of the genre, “The Full Monty” is influential in tackling complex issues such as: unemployment, fathers’ rights, depression, homophobia and loss. Small charities in the UK might find it challenging to secure donors, however that doesn’t mean they should give up. A key lesson from this film is that even when the odds seem overwhelming, perseverance can lead to a breakthrough. Collaborating with other charities, businesses, or local groups can create a first-rate force for fundraising. Just like in cinema, teamwork and partnership can amplify your reach and impact.


5. Up: Adventure Is Out There

Up isn’t just an enjoyable animated film; it’s a masterclass in storytelling. Through Carl Fredricksen’s adventure, we learn about the importance of sharing stories in fundraising. This is one of the most powerful tools in connecting with communities. In “Up”, you certainly learn that unlikely partnerships can make dreams come true and play a vital role in raising money for charity. It can be helpful to connect with other individuals, groups, or organisations who share your passion and goals. Carl and Russell work together to overcome challenges, and equally, small charities can achieve more when they join forces with like-minded people. Donors are more likely to support your cause when they can relate to it on a personal level. Your mission is the destination, and the sky’s the limit!

Conclusion: Fundraising for Small Charities

Despite that the world of non-profit fundraising does not have the glamour of Hollywood, it does have the potential to make a profound impact on the lives of many. Charities have learned how to craft an unforgettable story that embraces persistence in the face of adversity, has the power of collaboration and maintains long-lasting relationships with supporters. These lessons can set small charities on the path to success. However, these insights are solely inspired by the film industry. Be mindful that the true heroes are the dedicated individuals working to make the world a better place through raising funds. 

By integrating these lessons into a small charity’s fundraising strategy, you can create a captivating story that resonates with your audience, connects with potential champions, and ultimately, helps you fulfil your purpose. As you embark on your journey of raising money for charity, remember that the world of cinema is not just for entertainment; it’s also full of inspiration and intuition that can help to make a real impact in UK fundraising

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