Are You Ready To Launch A Capital Campaign?

If you're preparing to launch a capital campaign, a lot of work goes into figuring out exactly how much money a nonprofit can realistically raise. When looking to raise large sums, proper planning, preparation, and execution of all phases of the capital campaign are crucial. 

Nonprofits such as museums; community centers; faith-based organizations like churches, synagogues, mosques; and homeless shelters often seek funding through intricate, involved, capital campaigns to raise funds to purchase land, build a building, and/or renovate or preserve an existing structure.

Capital campaigns can last for years, but it's important to list an end date and not let them drag on indefinitely. If you don't reach your goal, you can have a new campaign in the future, apply for grants and/or loans, or change your budget to reflect what makes sense based on the funds you've actually been able to raise. 

According to Robert Happy, President of Averill Fundraising Solutions, LLC, "Nearly every nonprofit institution struggles when it comes to successfully executing capital campaigns." He offers some great tips in his article 10 Capital Campaign Do's and Don'ts for Better Fundraising, published by The Giving Institute. 

In addition, Averill Fundraising Solutions offers a comprehensive toolkit on its website. Capital Campaigns: 11 Steps to Set and Exceed Your Goals, with information on Setting Capital Campaign Goals, Exceeding Capital Campaign Goals, and Maximizing Capital Campaign Success. 

Another helpful article on the subject is 9 Capital Campaign Best Practices to Help You Succeed by Aly Sterling Philanthropy. 

Here are 10 Best Practices to increase your capital campaign's success culled from our experience as well as gathered from nonprofit, philanthropy, and fundraising experts.

1. Plan Ahead!

This can include some of the steps below. Running a successful fundraising project of this magnitude generally requires a strategic plan and having a good team in place to ensure the campaign all runs smoothly.  

It's important to make sure that you preserve annual giving so that you will have funds to continue operations, and possibly the higher expenses linked to a larger facility after the campaign. Donors who've just made donations in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars can feel overtaxed or put upon if expected to continue to give annually at the same level. 

2. Choose your team 

Your team can consist of a combination of your staff, executive committee, and board members.

  • Choose members who have experience with fundraising, connections, and/or you know are dependable and will remain actively involved until you reach the finish line.
  • Make sure the team can is cohesive and can operate effectively together.
  • Fragile egos and controlling attitudes can cause enough friction between staff and top-level volunteers to negatively impact your results. 
  • Determine what everyone's roles will be. 
  • Research and choose fundraising consultants who understand your needs, but will also be able to tell you the truth, no matter how hard it is to hear! 

3. Hire a capital campaign consultant 

  • Successful campaigns will benefit from an outside fundraising and strategic planning expert or group of experts.
  • Fundraising consultants generally offer assistance with fundraising, strategic planning, and training leaders. Fundraising solutions and strategies generally include fundraising assessments, feasibility studies, and capital campaign management.
  • Even if there's an expert on your board or executive committee, if they are too close to the project, or emotionally involved, they will not be able to accurately and dispassionately gage how much you will be able to raise. 
  •  Determine your nonprofit's needs and goals together with the fundraising consultant. Fundraising consultants generally offer assistance with fundraising, strategic planning, and training leaders. Fundraising solutions and strategies generally include fundraising assessments, feasibility studies, and capital campaign management.

4. Perform a feasibility study 

  • Phase one of a successful capital campaign will include a feasibility study to determine if your organization will be able to raise the funds you seek.
  • Simply wanting (or even needing) to raise a certain dollar amount isn’t enough to justify setting that as your fundraising goal. 
  • Prepare your case, learn your capacity, and prepare your donors and leadership for the campaign.  
  • Be willing to alter your plans based on the results of the study and the advice of the fundraising professionals you've contracted. 
  • Don't have architectural plans drawn up until you know how much you can successfully raise from your capital campaign.  

5. Leverage the power of matching gifts. 

It's important to ask for both lead gifts and major gifts. 

  • Everyone loves matching campaigns. Matching campaigns create win-win situations.
  • Does your organization have any members or businesses who contribute large sums annually? Ask them if they would be willing to match contributions up to a certain dollar amount as part of their annual giving.
  • Matching campaigns promote a sense of urgency and immediacy. 
  • Have a deadline for the matching campaign. 
  • Large donors often feel burdened, like they are carrying all the weight of insuring that the organization meets its financial obligations. They can get behind incentivizing others to give more.
  • Matchers along with grant funders, want to be sure that there are people who will step up to help the nonprofit in times of need and that they will not be expected to sustain it forever. 
  • People who can only afford smaller donations are motivated to give more when they know their contributions will be doubled, tripled or quadrupled.  

6. Ask companies for donations.

  • Choose the right people to be involved in the ask. Do they have a connection with a certain company, or are they well-known influencers? Corporations will be happy to give if they are asked by a familiar name.
  • Provide the talking points and information to your fundraisers and donation solicitors.
  • Donations requested can be straightforward contributions, matching funds, in-kind donations, or a combination of these. 

7. Apply for grants.  

Part of your overall strategy can include supplementing your capital campaign funding with grants. GrantWatch lists grants for capital campaigns under the capital funding category. 

  • It's not always clear from the name and initial description of the grant whether it can be used to fund a capital campaign. 
  • To find grants for your capital campaign, look under grants in your state. Get creative and look under other categories as well, depending on the nature of your organization. 
  • Don't rule out in-kind grants. 

Capital Campaigns Strategies that Work

Here are some grants available on GrantWatch for capital campaign funding. 

Grants to Central Indiana Nonprofits for Education, Health, Human Services, and Community Development, Deadline: Ongoing

Grants to Central Indiana nonprofit organizations and cultural institutions for activities in the areas of education, community development, health, and human services. Funding may be requested for either capital campaigns and operating support. As an Indianapolis-based organization, the Foundation predominately makes grants to Central Indiana organizations as well as a few national medical research institutions.

Grants to Massachusetts Nonprofits to Benefit Residents of Hampden and Hampshire Counties, Deadline: 8/01/19

Grants of up to $50,000 to Massachusetts nonprofit organizations to improve the quality of life for residents in Hampden and Hampshire counties. Prospective applicants must prequalify prior to submitting an application. Proposals may be in the areas of youth development, education, health, arts, religion, environment, and education. Capital Campaigns, building and renovation, land acquisition, and annual campaigns are all causes of particular interest to this Foundation. 

8. Hire a professional grant writer. 

A capital campaign is not the place to scrimp and save. Don't be pennywise and pound foolish. Getting a grant can make a huge difference for your capital campaign's success. 

  • If your nonprofit doesn't have a development director with grant writing experience and you don't have anyone on your team with grant writing skills, we recommend that you hire a professional grant writer.
  • To find an experienced, professional grant writer, put up a request for a grant writer on Our experienced grant writers will bid on your request and then you choose the grant writer who best suits your requirements. 

In The Trenches, Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign

9. Get commitments in writing and follow up on all pledges.

Who will be responsible for making sure that all pledges are paid-in-full, quickly? Collections can be tricky and very delicate for nonprofits who count on maintaining good relationships with all donors. Life-circumstances can change and people are sometimes not able or willing to follow through on what they've committed to contributing. These can include any number of unplanned, unfortunate events including economic downturns, recessions, divorce, major illnesses, hospitalizations, and even unfortunately bankruptcies.   

  • Allow for a certain amount of leeway and wiggle room in your budget so you will not be caught in a bad situation if pledges promised don't materialize.
  • Make sure you have a system in place for collecting the funds, and a back-up if people don't follow through on their commitments.  
  • Invest in up-to-date donor management software for proper record keeping, accounting, to provide evaluations and feedback, and to help you get you poised for your next fundraising project. 

10. Express Your Gratitude

Be sure you thank all your contributors. Not enough can be said about the importance of making sure that each donor feels appreciated, included, and knows that you are grateful for their support. 

  • Send written thank you notes and letters.
  • Make it a point to express your thanks to donors at meetings and events and in your newsletters. 
  • Have a special event to thank major donors. 
  • Acknowledge donations through permanent reminders such as plaques on doors or wings of buildings. 
  • Be sure to thank volunteers as well for all their sweat equity support. 

And for even more resources, here are two highly recommended books on the subject include Andrea Kihlestedt's, Capital Campaigns, strategies that Work, and Are You Ready for a Capital Campaign?: Assessing Your Nonprofit's Ability to Run a Major Fundraising Campaign by Linda Lysakowski.

Find grants for your capital campaign on GrantWatch.   

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for GrantWatch.

5 Points to Remember For Grief Support To Those Struggling With the Loss of a Child and Mental Health Programming Grants

The Compassionate Friends, a nonprofit that provides support to grieving parents, grandparents and siblings says that "out-of-order death", the death of a young person outside life's natural order of progression, is the most difficult type of loss to recover from, and that the grieving process is the hardest.

Gayle and David Mosenson lost their oldest son, Jeffrey, 18 years ago when his car skidded out of control on a slick, icy road and hit a tree. "Not a day goes by that we don't think of Jeffrey. Jeffrey was a wonderful son and brother, a great friend, someone who was always there for people, ready to lend a helping hand." Losing Jeffrey broke their hearts and the hearts of their three other children who all looked up to their other brother. (The photograph above is of Gayle and David Mosenson at ribbon cutting for the Jeffrey Mosenson Center for Trauma and Emergency Medicine wing at NUMC.)

Devorah and Rabbi Yakov Cohen, lost their seven year old son, Elisha, to a brain tumor after a long battle with cancer. Cindy and Brian Nadelbach's lost their son, Joshua, to suicide last May. Paula Stephens lost her son who was a soldier over four years ago, and unfortunately, the list goes on. 

How does one make sense of such losses? And how can one comfort people who have gone through the devastating loss of a child, grandchild or sibling?

"Many family members find they want to do something special to commemorate and memorialize their loved one so their memory will live on. Some join in the efforts of a charity or ask for contributions to a cause they believe in, while others, like the Mosensons and the Nadelbachs choose to found and fund a nonprofit," said Libby Hikind, CEO and founder of "GrantWatch can help find grants for griefbereavement and mental health programming.

We also help nonprofits and foundations offering grants to  list their grants and we help nonprofits and individuals raise donations through crowdfunding campaigns on

The Mosensons dedicated their efforts, through the Jeffrey Mosenson Memorial Fund, to raising funds to build a training facility for emergency responders. Once raised, the funds, were used to rebuild and expand The Nassau County Fire, Police, EMS Academy at Nassau University Medical Center (, where Jeffrey had trained to become a fireman and EMT. The Mosensons raised the funds through email campaigns, fundraising events such as annual golf tournaments and silent auctions to build a state of the art facility. The Jeffrey Mosenson Center for Trauma and Emergency Medicine wing at NUMC, which houses the academy, opened in May of 2010, and is the first public-private partnership in Nassau County. The center now trains about 2,500 students per year to become paramedics, fire fighters, police, and EMTs.  (

Devorah and Rabbi Yakov Cohen became active in blood and bone marrow drives and other charity work in Houston, and aiding the foundation by volunteering regularly. Both highly regarded spiritual teachers in their community, every class they teach is dedicated to their son's memory and to "raise his soul," and often on behalf of someone in need of healing. "It's our tradition to take on more good deeds and do them more thoroughly and with a full heart to raise the soul of the deceased," said Devorah.  

Whether the death of a child was due to gun violence, a drunk driver, suicide, car accident, physical illness, alcoholism or drug overdose, these five principles apply in how to support grieving parents, grandparents, siblings and other close family and friends. 

1. Remember their children.

The loss of a child "is a degree of suffering that is impossible to grasp without experiencing it first hand," writes author, motivational speaker, and coach, Paula Stephens, in her blog "Crazy Good Grief." "Often, when we know someone else is experiencing grief, our discomfort keeps us from approaching it head on. But we want the world to remember our children, no matter how young or old they were… If you never met my son, don't be afraid to ask about him. One of my greatest joys is talking about Brandon." 

2. Accept that you can't "fix" them. 

The death of a child breaks a person, especially a parent, in a way that is not fixable or solvable. People learn to put one foot in front of the other and move forward, to cope and live their lives, but their lives are never the same. 

"Living with loss is a solitary journey, even if there are other family members who are also experiencing the loss," says Stephens. Be patient with them as they find their way. Everyone heals in a different time frame and there are no right or wrong answers.

Time does not necessarily heal this wound. Some people find a way to cope with it that "heals the wound" for them, but that is not the case for all or even most. It's a spiritual journey. Some find comfort in their Higher Power knowing best, that everything happens for a reason, they feel grateful for the gift of their child, even if they were taken away much too soon, but such words from another will not necessarily help them and might make them feel worse.

3. Know that there are at least two days a year they need a time out.

Birthdays, death anniversaries (or as Stephens puts it, "angelversaries"), and holidays are especially hard for them. "Our hearts ache to celebrate our child's arrival into this world, but we are left becoming intensely aware of the hole in our hearts instead. Some parents create rituals or have parties while others prefer solitude. "Either way, we are likely going to need time to process the marking of another year without our child. The period leading up to these dates, especially the death anniversary are also extremely difficult. Some people feel like they're reliving them every year," says Stephens.  

4. Realize that they struggle every day with happiness.

"It's an ongoing battle to balance the pain and guilt of outliving your child with the desire to live in a way that honors them and their time on this earth," says Stephens.  

Grieving parents are constantly balancing their feelings of grief and how to continue to live and be happy after the loss. These feelings will be especially strong at special occasions like weddings, graduations, and other milestones. "Don't walk away – witness it with us and be part of our process," writes Stephens.  

5. Even if their loss and grief make you feel uncomfortable, please stand by them. 

"Don't feel uncomfortable. People didn't know what to say to us. Know that when someone loses a child, they need your help. We need your support. We need you to stand by us and be with us.  We've had enough loss in our lives, we don't want to lose our friends as well. We need your support," said Gayle Mosenson. "Don't feel bad for making us cry. I cry anyway… You don't have to be scared to talk about Jeffrey, I LOVE when friends talk about him. I want to keep his memory alive. I don't want people to ever forget him." 

You don't have to know what to say, it's okay to sit with them in sadness. If you knew their child, share your memories as well. They want to know how their child was special to others. 

"Don't be afraid to share what's going on in your life with us. Hearing about what's happening in your life, the good and the bad, keeps us connected. We want to be there for you too, whatever's happening in your life," said Gayle. 

Last September Paula Stephens hosted the first world wide online summit for grief recovery – The Healthy Grief Revolution: A Survivor's Summit. If you've experienced a loss, you can sign up for healthy inspirational support at

Find grants to expand your mental health programming on 

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for GrantWatch.

30 New Grants to Protect our Environment, Coral Reefs and Marine Ecosystems

Coral reefs intrigue us as we explore the mysteries of the deep, but do people really think about the effects current business practices are having on them and how it impacts our ecosystems?

Due to numerous oil spills in recent years as well as factors such as overfishing, intensive boating, recreational impacts, and land-based sources of pollution the ecosystems of our coral reefs and aquatic environments are in danger worldwide. 

Recent reports indicate that 58 to 70 percent of coral reefs around the world are directly threatened by human-associated activities. Government organizations, foundations, and NGOs such as the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) provide environmental grants to protect coral reefs from destruction, conserve and restore rivers, watersheds, waterways, and other natural habitats.  

Various environmental and conservation-oriented foundations have responded to the alarming decline in both the quantity and productivity of the world's coral reefs and marine ecosystems through multiple conservation initiatives. These aim to improve the management of these aquatic environments in addition to increasing public awareness of the dangers they're facing and what can be done to reduce threats to coral reefs, watersheds, and rivers in the U.S. and around the world.  

In addition to focusing on the coral reefs, foundations and NGOs like the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and it's partners have collaborated in a major effort to boost populations of imperiled wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay, Long Island Sound and along US and international coastlines.  

Key conservation strategies for coral reefs include:

  • Reducing primary threats such as land-based sources of pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage outfall, and erosion from bare soils, and reducing functional reef species through unsustainable harvest
  • Increasing the use of measurable goals, objectives and coral health thresholds in management planning
  • Increasing the management effectiveness of Marine Protected Area networks through management training and community engagement 

This URL will get you to the keyword search for ecosystem when logged into GrantWatch as a MemberPlus+ We found 33 grants today (the number will vary because new grants are added daily and past due grants are archived) to protect our environment, coral reefs, marine ecosystems and wildlife.


Grants to USA and International Individuals, Nonprofits,and Agencies for Projects to Protect Coral Reefs, Deadline: 05/09/2019 

Grants starting at $40,000 to USA and International organizations, individuals, and agencies for projects to improve the health of coral reefs and their related marine ecosystems worldwide. Funding is intended for projects that mitigate the factors that are damaging coral reefs in order to protect and conserve this important natural resource. 

Some grants are available for socially conscious entrepreneurs and innovators to create new methods, approaches, technologies, and products such as the one below: 

Grants to USA Nonprofits and For-Profits to Address Environmental and Social Needs, Deadline: 04/30/19

Grants to USA nonprofit and for-profit organizations for innovative solutions for a wide variety of environmental and social challenges. Programs must align with the following three focus areas: the environment, heritage conservation, and social justice. 

The prize has funded twenty wildly creative solutions to social and environmental challenges, ranging from high-tech efforts to restoring imperiled coral reefs, to the nation’s first farm labor trust. Each awardee takes a visionary approach to a societal need, working within one or more of the Fund’s three program areas: 

  • The Environment: Protecting natural resources and reducing the impacts of climate change.
  • Heritage Conservation: Conserving the places that communities care about most.
  • Social Justice: Supporting just alternatives and reforms to the criminal justice and immigration systems.

In addition, there are conservation grants such as this to address the issues related to the Delaware River Watershed. 


deep sea coral reef marine ecosystem

Aquatic oriented conservation grants give priority to projects that address one or more of the following strategic program areas:

  • Sustain and enhance fish and wildlife habitat restoration and conservation activities. 
  • Improve and maintain water quality to support fish and wildlife, as well as habitats for fish and wildlife and drinking water for people. 
  • Sustain and enhance water resource management for volume and flood damage mitigation improvements to benefit fish and wildlife habitats.
  • Improve opportunities for public access and recreation in the basin consistent with the ecological needs of fish and wildlife habitats.

To date, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has supported projects for coral reef conservation totaling over $43 million in 39 countries. These funds have assisted broad-scale coral reef management by establishing new techniques for assessing and monitoring reef health and new fishery management models. 

The NFWF's marine and coastal programs focus on restoration and management of habitats for fish, sea turtles, corals, marine mammals, seabirds, shorebirds, and other key species. Some incentives include promoting the development of sustainable fisheries, supporting actions to reduce sedimentation and enhance water quality to restore the health of marine ecosystems such as coral reefs. 

Find environmental and conservation grants to protect coral reefs, our marine ecosystems, land, wildlife and more on  

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for GrantWatch


Grants are Child’s Play When Nonprofits Team Up For Grants to Create Playgrounds and Purchase Playground Equipment

Play matters. All children need an opportunity to play, as do adults. Quite frequently at GrantWatch, we get calls from nonprofits looking for grants for playground equipment or to expand their athletic playing fields or stadiums. A number of grants are available on the database for grants around the United States and internationally for playground equipment. See two listed below and search on GrantWatch to find more. 

Grantmakers, KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit dedicated to ensuring that all children get a childhood filled with the balanced and active play they need to thrive, create playgrounds and larger scale recreational projects around the country. They look to fund projects in communities in need, often with in-kind grants, by creating partnerships working with schools, municipal agencies and corporate partners including the NFL, to transform underused open spaces, parks and existing playgrounds into safe, fun and beautiful spaces for children and their families to congregate and play.   

They work in communities with the most need, so children and their families have a chance to spend time together outdoors in a safe, healthy environment.

"Play is disappearing at home, at school and in communities, particularly for the 14 million children living in poverty," according to KaBOOM!.

Using a "community build model," they devised, KaBOOM! works with city agencies to address challenges in education, youth engagement, and neighborhood revitalization, by building relationships with city leaders to assess playspace needs and identify priority sites that will both aid each city's particular priorities and create new and improved playspaces, including playgrounds, multi-sport courts, temporary play installations, or mobile play opportunities where kids can benefit most. Their process culminates in a high-energy playground build day when they mobilize over 200 volunteers, planned and led by members of the community. 

Many grants for playgrounds and playground equipment can be found on GrantWatch. Peek-a-Boo on the playground

Creative Play Grants: In-Kind Donations of Playground Equipment to USA Municipalities, Schools, and Nonprofits in Eligible Regions: Deadline – Ongoing 

In-kind donations of specialty playground equipment to Iowa, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, California, Florida, and Texas municipalities, schools, and nonprofit organizations that serve children in eligible regions. Applicants are eligible to receive one of two different kinds of playground equipment that have custom-built, loose parts and that encourage creativity, communication, and collaboration in play. 

In-Kind Grants to USA and Mexico City Nonprofits, Schools, and Municipalities to Create Outside Play Areas: Deadline – Ongoing

In-kind grants to USA and Mexico City nonprofit organizations, schools, and municipalities to design and build playgrounds and play areas for children. The funding source will facilitate and assist organizations in planning and building a safe, customized play space to meet community needs. Projects may involve landscaping, painting, play elements, seating and tables, shading, and other installations. 

Slding down the slide at the playground, Weeeeeee!Sites in communities that are low-income have more of a competitive advantage for KaBOOM! grants. They forge partnerships with public housing systems, city planning departments, school districts, and other local government organizations to better serve children in need in inner city and low-income areas such as Detriot, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Boston, and highly populated Mexico City. 

KaBOOM! also focuses on organizations that serve children with special needs as well as communities who may have been impacted by a disaster. At times, the applicant's site may be in an area that is not considered low-income by census data, but the applicant may serve children from areas outside of the site location. KaBOOM! encourages organizations to apply so that the team can review and learn more. 

KaBOOM! and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation are teaming up again this year to launch the second Play Everywhere Challenge. They will award $1 million to create lasting, scalable design installations that provide more opportunities to play for the kids who need it most. 

Other programs they fund include Creative Play, Build it Yourself, Let's Play Everywhere Challenges, Play 60, Play On – a partnership with the NFL Foundation and the 50 Fund in the San Francisco Bay Area to transform everyday spaces into places for play and Rebuild Texas. The Rebuild Texas Fund will assist communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey. 

Together with the National Policy and Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity and the Public Health Law & Policy, KaBOOM! has created a joint use toolkit, Playing Smart Maximizing the Potential of School and Community Property Through Joint Use Agreements, and made available full case studies on their website. 

Having trouble finding grants for your school or community project? GrantWatch can help.'s database is updated daily with new local, statewide, national and international grants. 




About the Author: The author is a staff writer for GrantWatch and all affiliated sites.


How Can Mindfulness Guide You To Creative Resourcing for Grants and Funding?

Guest author Beth G. Raps recommends looking at fundraising and finding grants through the lens of mindfulness practices. Those seeking grants, or looking to write them can gain a new perspective which can bring greater peace of mind and enjoyment to what can often be a stressful process. 

This article was originally printed in the Grassroots Fundraising Journal and is reprinted with permission of the author. (

I came to mindfulness as an organizer and then as a fundraiser. As a young organizer, I worked myself into the ground, equating doing with being. Within a few years, I had no adrenal function and had to rebuild. Now, I practice mindfulness willingly. Now, I am emotionally and spiritually resilient and have much more to offer others. And I have so much time. I hope this article spares you the long journey I took.

Mindfulness is paying sustained attention to the flow of thoughts in your mind with the aim of observing, not fixing or changing them. It helps us quiet our minds, reconnect them with our bodies, and develop embodied awareness.

This article aims to teach you to become more mindful in one area of your life with a two-part applied mindfulness practice for what the Journal calls resourcing—a more inclusive term than fundraising. In her article “Resourcing: Fundraising as Part of Supporting and Building Community” (Grassroots Fundraising Journal, November/December, 2011), Susan Raffo describes resourcing as “a way of thinking about getting what we need” and how it “has come to mean how the collective body, or community, takes care of itself.” Resourcing includes fundraising as a way to care for our communities and ourselves.

By learning to “pay attention with a purpose,” you will begin to “look before you leap,” or more to the point, attend before you act, so that your work becomes easier and you find more peace in it. The ripple effect of this approach will extend far beyond raising money to raising the attention of communities.

Learning To “Spend” Your Attention Wisely

We love to talk about paying attention. Some spiritual leaders go so far as to call attention a “substance.” Many state that it is precious and in limited supply, so thinking of it in terms of money—“paying” attention—makes sense. Whether we like the money metaphor or not, when we are obliged to raise resources, we are likely to spend them more wisely. And if you are reading this, chances are that you are among those who have to raise resources.

In many respects, attention is no different from resources. Yet, we often spend it without a thought, giving it freely to matters that really don’t deserve it. In the following paragraphs, I will try to show you how you can raise attention, so that you may be inspired to spend it more wisely, just as you do your resources.

Raising Attention: Ask Not How, Ask When

About raising attention, people generally ask: How do we do this? My answer is: When can you do it? When are you alert but quiet? Each person is different. If your answer is “never,” attend to that as your starting place. How often must we do it? I propose you do it when you start a new campaign, are faced with a decision, or are sitting down to plan. Pretty soon you will be doing it before every meeting and each time you change tasks. Proper mental preparation can turn us into resourcing ninjas. But too often mental preparation is used to score against other people, manipulate an agenda, and control the community rather than build and support it. Using attention raising as the core of our mental preparation gives us power from within. Attending to our own minds first empowers us to be more present to others. It makes us less reactive, helps us notice what does not need doing, and makes us kinder and easier to work with, thus making us more attractive to the very resources we want—commitment, cooperation, and money.

Five Steps to Raising Attention

1. Make a commitment: Schedule with yourself to try this practice seven times for ten minutes per session. If everything that happens in your life is scheduled, only things that are scheduled will happen.

2. Take a position: Sit, stand, or walk quietly. Moving slowly is good for restless minds and absolutely counts.

3. Observe: Start by paying attention to the thoughts streaming through your mind. Just tune-in to this “second mind” (as Paulo Coelho calls it in The Valkyries) for the first couple of minutes of your 10-minute session. Learn to observe and accept the stream. It is not you, so don’t jump in. If you do, notice it and climb out. Congratulations! You have now successfully used the first part of this two-part practice.

4. Pick a Place: This is the part that makes this exercise “applied” or vocational mindfulness. It is a shortcut that does not come from a meditation tradition but rather from mental prep gurus as ancient as Cicero. Close your eyes and look at yourself when you are observing the stream. Where are you? At the stream bank? On a cosmic sitting cushion? In your personal hermit’s cabin? On a bus or train, looking out the window? Notice and validate this as your “stream observing” place. Having a clear idea of the location allows you to get back there easily and deliberately. Some people don’t see when they close their eyes. If you are one of them, chances are you can feel, smell, or hear your place. For your first session, take the time to notice the details. Feel free to write a brief description or draw a picture and place it where you can access it easily.

5. Act: By the time you reach this step, you have access to wisdom that is tailored to your needs at the correct scale and level of detail. Trust it. In the place you have picked, ask one question, develop one idea, plan one meeting agenda per 10-minute session, especially if you are new to this tool. Do not go overboard, or you may end up back in the stream. Keep your word and stop when it’s time, so you learn to trust your quieted mind. Encouraging self-trust encourages selfcare, which helps us cooperate with ourselves and creates peace among the squabbling voices within us.

Immediately after each session, implement your new insights. Plan and structure, task and do. Acting on what you have received strengthens your ability to receive it. Try it with small stuff first so you don’t scare yourself. You can always take a longer next session, or do another session soon. Attention-raising makes us less reactive, helps us notice what does not need doing, and makes us kinder and easier to work with, thus making us more attractive to the very resources we want—commitment, cooperation, and money. 

mindful rock sculpture on the water


Mindfulness in Action: Starting a new campaign, making a major decision, or sitting down to plan—these are all examples of when you may want to try this new practice. The following story tells how it can be used effectively in all three instances.

Zaina is a vocational mindfulness ninja. She has three kids, a full time job, and a partner; plus, she volunteers at her child’s school. The flexibility of her schedule as a lead organizer for workers’ rights and the key fundraiser for the organization allows her to volunteer during the day. It also allows her to overwork, try too hard to multitask, and to lose her patience if she is not careful. So, she practices mindfulness at the start of every workday, wherever she happens to be—at home, on the bus, or in the organization’s large windowless office. The place she goes to observe her thought stream is a mossy black rock high above.

Zaina’s organization was embarking on a capital campaign to raise a quarter million dollars. Not a large amount by capital campaign standards but the largest for her organization. As the mentor of the point-person for the campaign, Zaina was asked to review the campaign timeline. She did, and in her own words, “freaked out.”

This is where her discipline in vocational mindfulness paid off and Zaina immediately pulled herself together, placed her feet firmly on the floor, and began to observe her thought stream. In a couple of minutes, she was above the tumble of her thought stream on her mossy rock, looking down on the timeline and her recent “freak out.” And she was able to ask herself: “How can I reorganize this timeline in as few steps as possible so that we can raise as much money as possible from all our donors, while at the same time empowering my coworker’s leadership and making my own work easier?” Finally, she sat back and allowed the answer to enter her thoughts.

The key to sensing or simply knowing the answer lies in Zaina’s centering herself and staying calm—not enough to push the answer in any particular direction but to listen and to trust. If all she hears is silence, it is generally a sign that she is on to something big and needs to set aside more time for the decision, and to encourage others to do the same, too.

This time, however, the answer comes quickly: focus on donors who can give the most first, revise the timeline, and check back in a follow-up session using the mindfulness tool.  

It is not a plan that Zaina would have thought of normally, but she trusts this insight and sees that it will work at several levels: (a) it gives the less-experienced staff member a challenge and a focus; (b) the campaign gets a powerful early boost; (c) loyal, larger donors get a chance to play a bigger role in the organization; (d) numerous smaller donors can feel good about having their wealthy allies step out ahead of them; and (e) the organization is able to show off the support it enjoys across all economic classes and present itself in a new light.

When Zaina leaves her “place,” she is not only calmer, she has a workable strategy that extends beyond the timeline to share with her coworker. 

Whether you're a grant seeker in need of assistance finding or writing grants, or a grant writer, GrantWatch is for you.  

About the Author: Beth G. Raps, has been a fundraising coach and consultant to progressive nonprofits for 30 years. She’s also a money coach, Board developer, and organizer with a variety of published articles. She offers this article with gratitude to the great writers on mindfulness, especially Thich Nhat Hanh.

Educational Research Grants Evaluate Student Susceptibility to Fake News and Teach Them to Be Fact Checkers

One of the greatest challenges facing educators today is teaching students to recognize whether the information they read, hear and see is true. Becoming a critical information consumer is a necessary skill for everyone, and recognizing fake news can be challenging for anyone, especially for children and teens, not yet experienced with deceptive practices. 

Ever share a post on social media, text or email only to later learn that the information was not true? Sites such as Snopes provide a great service checking the facts on articles and posts that are shared with large groups of people. They are dedicated to stopping misinformation through fake news and pride themselves on knowing the difference between urban legends, lies, misinformation and true facts. Even more important is when they expose  scams. Some of these posts contain viruses, others steal people's personal information. 

The back story of, is that it was created to avoid scams and misleading posts about nonexistent grants and funding. At GrantWatch, you can be sure the facts have been checked.  According to Libby Hikind, founder and CEO, "There is a process that every grant listed on our website, must go through.  The research associate checks the details then sends it to the grant associate. From there the grant goes through editing and proofreading and then on to the publisher.  After the grant is published the funding source gets an email – displaying the full grant details, for their final review." 

"We at GrantWatch are grateful and appreciate our consumers and see them part of the fact checking process – because information may change after publication and we take our consumers comments and suggestions quite seriously."


Snopes recently posted an article in February 2019 showing a scam claiming that Little Caesars restaurants were offering three free pizzas with a coupon to celebrate their anniversary. 

Remember, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is [too good to be true]." says Libby Hikind.  "We get calls from individuals who received a phone call saying they had won a grant and only needed to send a Western Union or Green Dot with money for the taxes, before receiving the funds.  My first question is, "Did you apply for a grant?' and the answer is always, "NO! But they said I won!" If the individual had any inkling that something was amiss and took no action, they are lucky; but for those who want to believe – their balloon of hope bursts when they realize that they can kiss the money they wired to a scammer, good-bye.

Whether or not the Little Caesars “3 free large pizza” coupon carries any viral threat, it is best avoided simply because it is fake and therefore of no value or interest to anyone except scammers. 

It's often not so simple to tell whether the information you receive is fact or fiction. Some sources contain a mixture of true facts and some false information, as in this listing by Snopes regarding funding by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation providing free textbooks. ( 

The Washington Post online edition includes a Fact Checker, The Truth Behind The Rhetoric with analyses on what facts, quotes and statements by writers and politicians are true, misleading or exaggerated or just plain false. 

The Huffington Post published an opinion piece on the subject by guest writers Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew, "To Avoid Getting Duped By Fake News, Think Like a Fact Checker," in which they shared that adults often need to think less critically when searching the web due to their experience in reading print media. They found "People missed crucial clues about who might be trying to sway their opinion because they imported ways of reading from the world of print – even though the web plays by different rules. Wineburg, a professor of education at Stanford University, and graduate student McGrew worked with a team who observed and documented how three groups of experienced internet users evaluated the trustworthiness of digital sources: fact checkers at top news organizations, historians at four universities, and students at Stanford University. They found that fact checkers are the most accurate and made their decisions in much less time than the other groups. 

See more: (

University Students Learn to Be Fact Checkers

One major difference between the groups is that fact checkers learn about a site by leaving it. 

Within seconds of opening new windows to search for information about the website's sponsoring organization, they are generally able to tell whether the website is reliable and the information can be trusted or not.

When checking Wikipedia, "They beelined straight to the more authoritative references at the bottom and clicked on those. They understood that "the web" is not a metaphor: To learn about a single node you must see where it fits in a larger network." 

Put search terms in quotation marks to avoid getting Google results with your keywords anywhere on the page. It's best to open several new tabs and perform a number of searches, don't just trust the first or even second reference you review. 

"Without these basic skills, you can have all the critical thinking in the world and still tumble down digital rabbit holes," according to Wineburg and McGrew. 

A site called Quartz recently wrote about teaching children to think like fact-checkers, in an in-depth exploration of research studies and learning the basic skills of fact-checking. 

 In an article by Annabelle Timsit published by Quartz online, "In The Age of Fake News, Here's How Schools Are Teaching Kids To Think Like Fact Checkers," Ms. Timsit shares insights about research done at Stanford University, by their History Education Group (HEG), who set out to measure "civic online reasoning," young people's ability to judge the credibility of the information they find online. They designed 56 different assessments for their study of students in middle schools, high schools, and colleges from 12 states, collecting a total of 7,804 responses. 

They assumed that since today's kids are so media savvy they would be able to tell the difference between real articles and promotional pieces posted with a bias. They wrote in their report “many assume that because young people are fluent in social media they are equally savvy about what they find there. Our work shows the opposite.” Students were tricked by sponsored content and didn't always recognize political bias of social messages. 

Click here for the full executive summary by Stanford History Education Group. Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning. 

To find funding for the educational programs you want to undertake, search for research and evaluation grants and educational program grants on  


About the Author: The author is a staff writer for GrantWatch and all GrantWatch affiliated sites.