Film community donates skills to thriving DC non-profits

Stone Soup Films is the one-of-a-kind organization helping D.C.-based non-profits share stories of social impact.

Founder Liz Norton says she knows non-profits have greater social impact when they tell effective stories about the work they do, but all too often, their tight budgets don’t allow for a professional promotional film.

Online Chat: Beth Killoran, deputy assistant secretary for Information Technology and chief information officer at HHS, on March 28.

So Norton decided to build Stone Soup Films to gather volunteer services from film professionals willing to donate their expertise to help non-profits tell powerful stories.

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Norton didn’t have high expectations for volunteers when she started the non-profit production house in 2008, but soon found “the creative economy in D.C. is unbelievable. It’s just thriving. It’s the biggest growing sector in the district right now,” Norton told What’s Working in Washington.

As it turns out, a lot of D.C. creative talent is begging to be actually creative.

“The deep dark secret here is actually, the government makes a lot of video,” said Norton.

Almost every agency needs videos explaining processes, like jury duty, for example. “There’s a huge industry here of procedural … how-to kind of training videos,” where creators have virtually no creative freedom.

This is why so many D.C. creatives end up volunteering at Stone Soup.

“There’s this catnip at Stone Soup Films, because we partner with non-profits, and produce and donate those films to non-profits for free,” said Norton.

Most of Norton’s volunteers for Stone Soup are between 20 and 30 years old.

“Having meaning in their work is so important,” she said. And knowing they are helping non-profits who are in turn helping the community is enough to make videographers, editors, producers, and graphic designers donate their time.

“These [non-profits] need communications help. They are so good at what they do, but they don’t know how to tell their story,” said Norton.

Listen to entire March 13 show: