The D-Word Strategic Plan (2020-2022)


Now that The D-Word has passed a significant milestone of 21 years of existence and both organic development and planned platform improvements, the hosts have determined that a strategic plan will help the institution continue to be an important resource for the documentary film community.

After a major platform design revamp in 2014, The D-Word hosts began to discuss this larger future of The D-Word. This process continued on-and-off over the next few years and included a SWOT analysis, feedback from members through a survey, and some key business strategy questions. 

This document is the culmination of that process, providing a revised mission, vision, values and strategic roadmap for The D-Word through December 2022. It has been informed by member input and discussions of The D-Word volunteer hosts (current hosts Doug Block, Heidi Fleisher, Peter Gerard, Erica Ginsberg, and Marjan Safinia; and former hosts John Burgan, Niam Itani, Paul Szynol, and Ben Kempas).


Documentary filmmaking is critical work, but can also be challenging and isolating. Since 1999, The D-Word has been a peer-to-peer global community that helps documentary professionals feel a sense of belonging. Through its online and offline programs and tools, The D-Word provides spaces for professional development, information sharing and relationship building, working towards greater sustainability and improved mental health for documentary professionals.


In the face of all the challenges that documentary professionals face in trying to make good work and thriving careers, The D-Word is committed to:

  • Providing a welcoming and open online space for working professionals in the documentary industry to share information, questions, successes, and challenges of filmmaking.
  • Encouraging face to face connections and collaborations beyond the online space through organizing and encouraging others to meet up at film festivals, industry events, and in informal member-organized gatherings.
  • Collaborating with other film institutions to further professional development, information sharing, and support systems for the field.
  • Supporting and championing diverse voices in the documentary field by amplifying their messages and taking actions to encourage allyship and dismantle white supremacy in our industry.


The Strategic Plan below includes our Goals and Objectives. A more specific action plan and evaluation process will be managed by committees made up of members and hosts.

GOAL I: Make The D-Word a platform that regularly engages a larger, more diverse global community of documentary professionals.

  • Review and revise existing components of the website, making clearer distinctions between the resources accessible to Pros and Non-Pros. 
  • Enhance the online site with additional resources.
  • Building on past efforts fostering critical conversations and best practices in our field through an online format unencumbered by space or time, The D-Word will elevate special online programs aimed at increasing and deepening member engagement and positioning our community as a conversation leader.  
  • Increase and deepen the reach of our membership globally, with a lens of inclusivity and equity, making programming and partnerships better reflect and support diversity in our field.

GOAL II: Raise the profile, reach, and impact of The D-Word beyond the online forum.

  • Increase The D-Word’s visibility to better position us as thought-leader and influencer in the field.
  • Increase the number of D-Word gatherings, virtually or in-person, organized both by Hosts and members independently.

GOAL III: Ensure that The D-Word can be a sustainable institution.

  • Identify and implement key human resources needs.
  • Determine the most effective business structure for The D-Word.
  • Ensure that The D-Word has solid systems in place to carry out its operations.