Philanthropy Roundtable celebrates givers

When Frank Hanna received the Simon Prize in 2007, he celebrated in his remarks the ability of philanthropy to serve as “truth funding.” Since then, he says, he has “become even more convinced of this premise,” and has concentrated his personal giving on exposing both children and adults to what he sees as fundamental, eternal truths. He has supported character education, funded Catholic and charter schools, and established programs at colleges and universities.

In recent years, Hanna has turned to cinema to bring ethics and eternal truths to even larger audiences. In 2011, he

provided seed capital to start Good Country Pictures. GCP has acquired options to make movies of Flannery O’Connor’s novel The Violent Bear It Away and Charles Williams’s novel All Hallows’ Eve. O’Connor was a popular and acclaimed author of religiously infused books about Southern life. Williams was a British writer, theologian, and Inklings member, along with J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.

Hanna’s company hired seasoned screenwriters to create scripts for the two projects. It is now raising money to begin production of the first film, the O’Connor adaptation, in the winter of 2015. The firm has also acquired TV rights for 30 (nearly all) of O’Connor’s short stories. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright has outlined a series based on them; he is now working on a screenplay for the pilot episode.

“Both O’Connor and Williams understood the great peril involved when we accept the material world as all that matters,” says Hanna. “They created timeless works of literature which we believe will have an audience in cinema.”

While he continues to make contributions to universities and think tanks to undergird timeless truths, Hanna believes it is important to reach a broader audience as well. “White papers are very important, but compelling stories and narratives are what move the world. In the end, the greatest impoverishment in our society today is one of character and virtue. So it is to this deficit that I am devoting my efforts.”

From the article entitled "Champion Givers" in the Fall 2014 issue of Philanthropy Magazine, the journal of The Philanthropy Roundtable.