BTF Cinema4aCause Engages Audience in Purposeful Conversations to Effect Change

BTF Chicago Director and Cinema4aCause Founder
Chicago | February, 2018

BTF Cinema4aCause Logo Designed by Duygu Genc

What is Cinema4aCause?

Cinema4aCause is an umbrella giving program of Bridge to Turkiye Fund (BTF) created to raise awareness on the issue of gender and education inequality in rural Turkiye through the lenses of relevant film-making in the region. The program aims to serve as a center stage for engaging in purposeful conversations to enable change through the allocation of education scholarships.

From Idea to Center Stage Fundraising

Shortly after being offered the opportunity to lead the efforts of Bridge to Turkiye Fund in Chicago, the transformative work to make BTF Chicago a grassroot movement was set in motion. It seemed fitting then that the very first official fundraising event that BTF Chicago was going to undertake to promote the social causes we care deeply about needed to be impactful. This is the event that would capture the attention of the Turkish American community in Chicago and would bring the problem of gender and education inequality in Turkiye.

Cinema4aCause was conceived from the recognition that visualization of the problem of gender and education inequality through the lenses of relevant film-making in Turkiye could be very powerful to engage in purposeful conversations to enable real change.

With this recognition also came the realization that thoughtful selection of a documentary or film was very important for the success of BTF Chicago first fundraising event. The opportunity materialized with the selection of a compelling documentary produced and directed by <Bingol Elmas>. The rights for showing the documentary at BTF Chicago first fundraising event were graciously waived by the film director.

Opening Night with Long Time Friend and BTF Chicago Leader, Ipek Blanton

Cinema4aCause was officially launched during Women’s International week in March of 2014. More than 100 people attended the screening of “EVCILIK — Play House”. The net result was a collection of funds equivalent to 5 annual scholarships. Following the screening success of “EVCILIK — Play House”, BTF Chicago decided to make the event an annual fundraising event with proceeds benefiting its main charitable cause, Empowerment Scholarships for Underprivileged Girls in Turkiye.

A year later, BTF Chicago arranged for the exclusive showing of “HALAM GELDI — My Aunt has Arrived”. Directed and produced by <Sami Dundar>, the movie’s theme was viewed to be fully aligned with the mission statement established for Cinema4aCause. The movie was shown over a period of two consecutive weekends in late January and early February of 2015. Both events were complete sold-outs and culminated with very positive reviews from the Turkish American community and other local supporting groups in Chicago. By the end of Winter 2015, the pool of education scholarships funded directly from Cinema4aCause proceeds had increased to 8 annual scholarships.

Cinema4aCause Featured Presentations Over the Years

Cinema4aCause Goes Nationwide

The fundraising successes in Chicago created an opportunity for replication at a national scale. Building upon the experience gained by BTF Chicago, Cinema4aCause underwent changes to run on a nationwide platform. Led by BTF Chicago and with the support of all giving circles nationwide, the 2016 Cinema4aCause campaign was officially launched during the month of May.

Presenting a humanity award to director and producer Cagil Nurhak Aydogdu, June 2016

The 2016 Cinema4aCause featured movie YARIM — The Half” directed and produced by <Cagil Nurhak Aydogdu> was shown at 12 locations nationwide over a period of nearly one month. Screening locations included San Diego, New York, Pittsburg, N.Potomac-Maryland, Chicago, Charlotte, Seattle, Michigan, Twin Cities, Portland and Fairfax-Virginia, and Maryland.

Funds raised nationwide totaled $ 27,600 and equivalent to about 46 annual education scholarships.

It became evident that a nationwide approach for the delivery of Cinema4aCause on a yearly basis was the way forward to leverage local fundraising efforts and grow at a pace that would be commensurate with resources accessible to each one of the giving circles. But more importantly, to continue building a strong profile for Cinema4aCause that would allow for the continued partnership with Turkish filmmakers willing to work arm in arm with BTF in raising awareness to the problem of gender and education inequality in Turkiye.

“A nationwide approach leveraged local fundraising efforts and allowed for a continued partnership with Turkish filmmakers willing to work arm in arm with BTF in raising awareness to the problem of gender and education inequality in Turkiye”

Based on the 2016 campaign experience, Cinema4aCause underwent additional changes to improve nationwide presentation and delivery. The additional changes greatly improved the overall delivery of the 2017 Cinema4aCause featured movie.YUN BEBEK — The Wool Doll” directed and produced by <Ummiye Kocak> played at 16 locations nationwide over a period of three months. Screening locations included Indiana, Seattle, Michigan, Chicago, Orange County, Portland, San Diego, Charlotte, Minnesota, Dallas, New York, Pittsburg, N. Potomac-Maryland, Austin, Boston, and Alexandria-Virginia. Funds raised during the 2017 campaign nearly doubled $ 48,600. As a result, the pool of education scholarships funded with Cinema4aCause proceeds has grown from 46 to 81 annual education scholarships.

“Funds raised during the 2017 campaign nearly doubled to $48,600.”

Nationwide Campaign Creates a Sustainable Footprint for Growth

The retooling of Cinema4aCause for nationwide delivery has proven to be very effective for leveraging local fundraising efforts. The footprint of the nationwide campaigns is growing stronger and expanding geographically every year.

The consolidation of efforts working together around a common event for a period of time at a national scale has made it possible to create a sustainable footprint to support the advancement of educational projects aligned with Cinema4aCause mission and vision. Additionally, working together around a common event has united our entire family of giving circles around the nation and strengthened the systems that make possible the delivery of our fundraising events nationwide. More importantly, the success realized by the nationwide campaigns has provided a continuity in the allocation of funds for educational scholarships benefiting underprivileged children of Turkish society.

“The first group of students funded with Cinema4Cause proceeds will be graduating from college in June of 2018”

The outlook for future nationwide campaigns looks full of promise and Cinema4aCause stands ready to capitalize on the potential of the promise in 2018 and beyond.

Capitalizing on the Potential for Growth in 2018 and Beyond

It is anticipated that Cinema4aCause will continue to grow in geographic coverage and evolve in terms of presentation and delivery of featured screenings. It is also the expectation that for any significant growth to occur in 2018 and beyond, such growth must be rooted in strong relationships with committed sponsors. Sponsorship funds allow for the selection and arrangement of venues that are conducive to the specific needs of Cinema4aCause events and many other endeavors that enhance overall delivery of the presentations. In Chicago, Cinema4aCause has been able to maintain a level of support from sponsors that has greatly benefited delivery of the event year after year. The stature of the event has grown in direct proportion to financial support provided by committed sponsors nationwide.

Another important aspect to the continued growth of Cinema4aCause is to strengthen current relationship with the film-making industry in Turkiye committed to the discussion of important social issues aligned with Cinema4aCause mission. The increasing stature of Cinema4aCause events has led to the development of individual relationships with movie directors and producers who are committed to the advancement of life-changing opportunities for the underprivileged children of Turkish society. They have been very supportive and accommodating to the needs that arise from delivering fundraising events for charitable purposes. With the purpose of recognizing their commitment to the discussion of gender and education inequality issues through their work, Cinema4aCause highlighted their support in a recent interview held with Aktuel Yasam Magazine published on June of 2017. Their continued support is key to facilitate the public discourse of ideas in order to reframe the discussion of gender and education inequality in Turkiye.

“Our network of donors, sponsors and volunteers is the bridge that enables deployment of life changing opportunities to the underprivileged children of Turkish society.”

Finally, the engagement of our network of donors and volunteers has an impact on everything Cinema4aCause and BTF have set out to do. Without their continued support, be it a donation of their time, skills, or financial support hardly anything would translate into actionable projects on the ground. Recognizing the fact that our donors and volunteers have a choice when selecting a charitable cause worth of their support and investment, we are purposefully promoting meaningful ways to recognizing them more often individually and collectively at our events. Their long-term commitment is the bridge that enables deployment of life-changing opportunities for the underprivileged children of Turkish society.

Bridge to Türkiye Fund (BTF) is a US based, UN accredited volunteer run, charitable non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. Contributions made to BTF are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by IRS. BTF’s tax identification number is58–2678580. Bridge to Türkiye Fund’s primary goal is to provide under-served children of Türkiye with the lifelong gift of education.