Tools for Productive Partnerships Among Creatives, Changemakers, and Funders

Getting Started


Are Prenups for Partners for You?” (RP4P4U?)

We created this framework for people who agree that social change requires myriad talent, perspectives, tactics, and more. P4P is for anyone who is partnering on a project or initiative where creativity is part of the mix. (You can learn more about media-fueled impact in our Resources section.) This includes media-makers, issue experts, artists, nonprofits, funders, social entrepreneurs, activists, organizers, writers, networkers, strategists, storytellers, researchers, etc. Since most modern agents of change play multiple roles, we’ve abbreviated the categories into: Creatives, Change-Makers, and Funders. We hope that the more you read, the more productive and creative your collaborations will be.

Photo credit: Donald Tong

Where are the Distributors?

We’ve gone back and forth with whether or not Prenups for Partners should include the fast-changing distribution sector. While we agree that many issues we highlight (especially in METHOD and MONEY) require careful decision-making with those who make the deals with theatres, educators, non-profits, broadcasters etc., we don’t currently have the resources to take the deep dive it would require to integrate their very specific, often contractual needs. But what do you think? Weigh in by contacting!

About Us

Active Voice Lab is a nonprofit network of seasoned strategists, led by Ellen Schneider. We help funders, advocates, media makers, and other leaders skillfully and collaboratively use story to advance social change. Based in San Francisco, we work with allies in the U.S. and beyond. Financial support comes from foundation grants, fee-for-service/consulting, and private donations. Active Voice Lab grew out of Active Voice, a leader in developing effective, story-fueled impact campaigns to spur progressive action.

What Are ‘The Prenups’?

In 2009, Active Voice Lab published The Prenups: What Funders and Creatives Should Talk about Before Tying the Knot. We were struck by that fact that, as storytelling and media had become increasingly essential to social change efforts, creatives and funders are working even more closely. We’d experienced first hand, however, that these communities don’t necessarily share language, culture, expectations, or even a common vision. Too often, miscommunication was getting in the way of great collaborations. Through filmmaker focus groups, one-on-one conversations with funders, and some-off-record nightmarish recaps, we aggregated three areas of questions to talk about: Visions & Expectations, Roles & Participation and Business & Legal Issues. Although much of these lessons have been incorporated into Prenups for Partners, you can download the original version of The Prenups here.

P4P Glossary

Creatives: People who use images, words, music, and other elements to shape an experience in which others might find meaning, truth, surprise, or emotion. Creatives who use P4P tend to be media-makers and other storytellers who want to contribute to social change.

Change-makers: Of course, creatives and funders who benefit from P4P are change-makers in their own right. But for brevity’s sake, we define this category as people who work to solve social problems, often taking a systems approach. P4P-ready change-makers include grassroots organizers, nonprofit or NGO leaders, progressive educators, faith-based networks, socially responsible businesses, academics, thought leaders, celebrities, policy makers or watchers, etc.

Funders: People whose job or purpose is to give money — their own or that of a foundation or charity — to support social change efforts. They may offer advice and other resources in addition to financial support. Funders who participated in Active Voice’s original Prenups were mostly social justice philanthropists who recognized that activism is more likely to succeed if creativity, stories, and new narratives are part of the strategy.

Creative work, or “content”: Active Voice Lab’s core experience is with issue-driven documentaries and dramatic film, but Prenups for Partners is designed to also support the integration of journalism, poetry, VR, theatre, digital media, games, memes — anything emerging from a creative who wants to contribute to positive social change.

Thanks to our generous funders!

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