Hollywood is buzzing with Oscar madness and predictions for this Sunday’s ceremony. In case you didn’t see each film, we’ve taken a moment to summarize them and give you the ultimate fundraising lessons inspired by Oscar nominees from each of this year’s Best Picture films.

Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com
Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

We’re sure these tips are all winners.

And the nominees for Best Fundraising Lesson Inspired by Oscar Nominees are:

American Sniper

A controversial film based on the autobiographical book by the most prolific Navy Seal sniper in American history, Chris Kyle. While serving multiple tours in Iraq, he must deal with the high levels of stress and the unavoidable toll on his personal life. Chris loved his job as a sniper and – knowing he would have to focus on working his way back to the top on a new team – he turned down the opportunity to apply for Seal Team Six.

Lesson: Your organization’s goals are important, so take time to set them. Then make time to revisit them on a regular basis to keep track of your progress.

The Imitation Game

A true story about how the British intelligence agency MI6 recruited English mathematician Alan Turing to crack the Enigma and Nazi codes during World War II. Turing’s insistence on breaking traditional methods and taking a brand new approach in his code-breaking task leads him to become a hero when he finally cracks the codes.

Lesson: Don’t be afraid to try new or unique ideas out – they might just work. Good ideas come from where you least expect.



20 years after playing Birdman, a superhero, in a series of films, Riggan Thomson is on a journey to reestablish himself as a serious actor. His self-doubt stands in the way of mounting his own dramatic production on Broadway.

Lesson: Listen to your inner voice. Your intuition about planning a new project or reviewing how you communicate with your supporters will set your cause free.


From the perspective of Mason, a young boy, the joys and pitfalls of growing up are explored over the course of 12 formative years in his life. The movie actually took 12 years to film with the same cast.

Lesson: Patience is a virtue. Impact and change may take time, but the right fundraising product can pave the way for a strong foundation to build upon.


Based on the true story in 1965 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the historic campaign in Selma, Alabama to secure equal voting rights for African Americans.

Lesson: In the face of violent opposition, Dr. King gains the world’s attention by having a well thought out strategy. Don’t just react, stop to think of a plan.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The current owner of a once-grand luxury hotel describes his youth as a lobby boy and protégé of the hotel’s concierge in a visually appealing and symmetrically cinematic display.

Lesson: Engage your supporters with compelling images and valuable content so they will not want to look away for even a second.


An independent film about a 19-year-old music conservatory student whose determination, talent and fierce passion to become a great jazz drummer draws the attention of the school’s most intimidating teacher. This teacher believes students excel through relentless humiliation and fear, not praise.

Lesson: Greatness is born by passionately exceeding limits. Set big goals and dare to surpass them.

The Theory of Everything

Stephan Hawking’s incredible life story about his grim diagnosis with progressive motor neuron disease and the challenge and determination it took for him to overcome it while still gaining accreditation as one of the most famous theoretical physicists and cosmologists today.

Lesson: In the words of one of Hawking’s professors – “Keep going.”

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