Nestled in the heart of Los Angeles, the International Documentary Association (IDA) is a nonprofit with a mission to build and serve the needs of a thriving documentary culture. It’s a mission that resonates. In a city famous for its high-budget film production there lies an organization serving the needs of filmmakers who aren’t in it for the money.

One of the ways they do this is by connecting documentary filmmakers with financial backers.

Toni Bell is the Filmmaker Services Manager at the IDA. One of her primary responsibilities is collecting and processing applications for documentary filmmakers when they ask for fiscal sponsorship. The fiscal sponsorship program serves two parties: the filmmaker and the donor. They allow the filmmaker to get the financial support needed to complete a project, while giving the donor a tax-deductible means to support films they’d like to see finished. Furthermore, by using IDA’s fiscal sponsorship, filmmakers can become eligible to receive funding from certain government grants and big-name foundations.

As you can imagine, fiscal sponsorship at IDA isn’t taken lightly. Filmmakers are vetted for their project’s originality and production strategy, the director’s experience and capability, and whether or not the film itself is going to tell a compelling story.

But Toni needed a way to collect applications in an organized, efficient manner that wasn’t going to require her to send a million follow-up questions when people didn’t give her all the application material she asked for. So she uses JotForm.

Collecting Fiscal Sponsorship Applications

The JotForm account at IDA has changed hands a few times since the company created their account in 2010. And although they’ve used JotForm to collect all sorts of information over the years, the Fiscal Sponsorhip Application has remained one of the most important.

The IDA Fiscal Sponsorship Application form is a thorough one, asking for details from the applicant like total project budget, previous funding amounts, the current stage of production, and any samples of previous work. Then it allows the applicant to send uploaded files and sign off on statements of agreement.

Accepting Employment Applications

The IDA uses the same method finding new employees as it does new filmmakers — through a clean, simple-to-fill-out JotForm application form. The employment application they’ve created matches the IDA brand, making it feel like a more official experience for the applicant who’s sending their resume and cover letter.

Ever since the the organization began using JotForm back in 2010, they’ve experienced a major boost in productivity. The staff isn’t filled with developers and IT specialists; they’re a mission-driven busy running educational programs, securing financial backers, publishing a magazine, and planning events. But by using JotForm, they can quickly build and edit a form without needing to know how to code it themselves. They can collect and distribute the data they obtain in an organized fashion, without requiring a single piece of printed paper.

And whenever a change needs to be performed on any of the forms, they simply log into their JotForm account and make the edit. For a fast-moving nonprofit like the International Documentary Association, that can make a big difference.

Are you a fan of documentaries? Let us know your favorite one in the comments below. And does your organization use JotForm and want to be featured in an upcoming case study? Fill out our case study request form and we’ll get back to you.

Chad is Director of Communications at JotForm. He’s also a frequent contributor to various tech and business publications, and an absolute wizard with a Vitamix. He holds a master’s degree in communication and resides with his girlfriend and cats in Oakland, California. You can reach Chad through his contact form.

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