Can Hugh Jackman & Debora-Lee Furness’ Relatively Modest Grant to a Montreal Hospital Unearth Millions in New Philanthropic Capital?

15 Feb

Dear Debora-Lee Furness and Hugh Jackman,

I am writing to thank you for the generous grant you awarded in September 2013 to the Montreal Children’s Hospital on behalf of the entire X-Men: Days of Future Past film cast and crew while you were in Montreal, Canada shooting the movie. It was such a genuinely kind effort that will invariably help very ill children served by the Hospital.

While your $10,000 grant clearly benefits the Hospital, equally exciting is the potential your gift holds to unearth millions more dollars and benefit countless other nonprofit organizations in countless other communities the whole world over.

You see, by giving a grant in your film shoot location, and on behalf of the entire film making cast and crew, you have role-modeled for the rest of the motion picture arts industry just how easy and also how meaningful it can be for the entire film making team to say ‘thank you’ with a modest financial gift or, as I have dubbed it, to offer a ‘give back’ to their host community.

What if other actors (and/or producers, directors, other members of the film crew) followed your lead and awarded a however modest ‘Give Back’ grant the next time they are on location for their latest film?

Imagine the multiplier effect.

If even a third of all of the films that are shot out on location each year made it standard practice to award a relatively modest grant to a local nonprofit organization in the main location in which the film was made, it would unearth millions of dollars in new philanthropic capital, money that would be spread across the globe and help address countless different social and environmental issues. Even better, the organization that receives the grant in each film-location community will be able to use their high-profile ‘Give Back’ grant to leverage funding from other sources, thus making the pool of new philanthropic dollars even greater.

From Zimbabwe to Philadelphia, Mumbai to New Orleans, Cambodia to the Alaskan Frontier, so many places, people, natural habitats and causes could benefit in some way from the motion picture arts industry’s philanthropic investment in locales in which movies are made.

The types of investments could be as wide and varied as the places they touch: the introduction of fiber optics in a remote, resource-scarce village in Papa New Guinea; an international social media campaign to draw attention to the need to improve the conditions of orphanages in Australia; replication of the telemedicine model for providing healthcare to medically underserved rural communities in the Southern Plains States in North America; a sustainable water quality improvement project in Uruguay; etc.

It doesn’t have to be a complicated or time-consuming process to select the cause and the nonprofit and make the gift. It’s understandable that cast and crew may not be able to participate given the long hours and pressure to get to the finish line as soon as possible when out on location. If the film team doesn’t have the time or know-how, there are experts out there (myself included) who can do all of the legwork, engage the film cast and crew as their time allows and make the entire process efficient and meaningful for everyone involved. Regardless of whether they participate directly, without question the entire film cast and crew still gets to walk away (after days, weeks, or months of exhausting work) with their heads held high, having left an indelible positive mark on the community that just hosted them without asking for too much in return.

Mr. Jackman and Ms. Furness, I applaud you for helping address the needs of very ill, vulnerable children in Montreal.  At the same time, I am excited by the prospect your thoughtful effort holds to make a ‘Give Back’ grant in film locations across the globe common practice within the entire motion picture arts industry.

All My Best,



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