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Local woman using inspiring films to incite charitable donations

Published: Saturday, March 22 2014 3:45 p.m. MDT

Salt Lake City resident Lindsay Hadley created FilmRaise as an experiment to see if charitable organizations could benefit from people watching a movie.

http://filmraise.com

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SALT LAKE CITY — One organization has found a way for people to give to charity without spending a cent.

Salt Lake City resident Lindsay Hadley created FilmRaise as an experiment to see if charitable organizations could benefit from people watching a movie.

The idea behind FilmRaise is simple: Find an inspiring movie, identify charities already making a difference, and find people willing to donate to a specific charity.

"Beyond Right and Wrong" is the first movie FilmRaise is promoting. It focuses on the path to forgiveness for those affected by violence, specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Rwandan genocide and troubles in Northern Ireland.

“The biggest thing is getting this film out. That’s the absolute goal — starting the conversation around reconciliation and forgiveness,” Hadley said.

"Beyond Right and Wrong" became available online in late February. Anyone can access the 52-minute film for free. Despite millions of views through social media, eight feature articles in the Huffington Post and coverage in Forbes magazine, only about 4,200 people have watched the movie.

Still, Hadley remains upbeat.

“We’re poineering something new, and these organizations are totally worth our time,” she said.

FilmRaise was created when "Beyond Right and Wrong" filmmaker Lekha Singh asked Hadley for her help in exposing her film to 1 million people. Hadley, in turn, created a model to leverage friendly competition and encourage collaboration among charities.

For every 1,000 views, one of 10 organizations will earn $500. The model incentivizes organizations to promote the film so their cause will receive the funds.

“In a paradoxical way, they are kind of technically competing for this half a million dollars," Hadley said. "But at the same time, they’re collaborating because they’re all a part of this umbrella campaign. They’re all promoting this film. They’re all working together."

The money will be taken out of a pool of $500,000, donated by the Salt Lake City nonprofit group Operation Kids and New York City-based company Share the Mic.

"We saw a chance to support a unique platform that brings charities together," said Phil Webb, executive director of Operation Kids.

By partnering with FilmRaise, Operation Kids is able to increase the impact of its donation. Instead of just giving to organizations, the nonprofit is able to help spread a positive message when people watch the movie.

It was the message of "Beyond Right and Wrong" that resonated with Webb, who said he sees the film as an additional channel to help his organization meet its goal to "measurably improve the lives of children all around the world."

When asked what he hopes his organization's partnership with the film will accomplish, he said, "Just watch the movie, and you'll see what we're talking about."

One of the stories in the film is of a woman who lives near a man who killed five of her children in the Rwandan conflict. When the man comes to her, impoverished and asking for help, she does not know if she can forgive him.

Stories like hers help people see the power of what Anasazi Foundation executive director Mike Merchant calls "a forgiveness experience."

"It's possible to find the humanity in someone else. It's possible to heal," Merchant said.

The Anasazi Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides wilderness therapy for troubled youth and their families. It is also one of the charities that could benefit from people watching "Beyond Right and Wrong."

The Arbinger Institute, responsible for the books "Leadership and Self-Deception" and "The Anatomy of Peace," has also thrown its weight behind the film. It created The Reconciliation Project website to share more stories of forgiveness and healing.

Hadley said she hopes "Beyond Right and Wrong" is the starting point for FilmRaise to become a platform that offers uplifting media and helps charities in the process.

"The intention is hopefully that we build a platform and distribution model that helps distribute really edifying, social-impact, cause-edifying films in the future," she said.

Email: wevans@deseretnews.com, Twitter: whitevs7

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