Ask ten couples who have adopted about what they think of fundraising for an adoption and you will most likely get very different opinions from one extreme to another. Some will tell you that they would have never dreamed of raising money to help finance their adoption. Others will tell you that they simply could not have gone on the adoption journey without outside help. Regardless of their stance on fundraising, all will agree: Adopting a child is expensive. Really expensive.
When Mandy and I decided to adopt a little girl we considered the financial consequences of our decision along with the impact adding another little one would have our lives and, especially, our three boys. Initially, we decided that we would pay for all of the adoption expenses out of either our income or our savings and would tap in to our home equity loan if we needed to. We decided not to do any fundraising, not because we were against it, but because we felt that God had blessed us in such a way as to allow us to pay for our adoption out of our own means. But God had other plans.
First, our church family at Harpeth Hills stared an adoption fund where families could give money to specifically help those that were adopting. Then, our dear friends and owners of Katy’s Gifts in Nashville offered to host a shopping event where 100% of the profits from the event would be donated to us. Finally, we borrowed an idea from another family that had adopted a little boy from Ethiopia and held an adoption garage sale. In the end, we were able to raise about a third of the total cost of our adoption, which gave us the flexibility to save our home equity loan for the surgeries that Molly Kate needed.
Below is a list of ideas for fundraising that is not intended to be exhaustive but includes commentary where I have personal experience or directly no someone that does.
Clothing. Several friends of ours sold clothing from organizations like 147 Million Orphans where the organization split the proceeds of the sales with the adopting family or simply allowed the families to purchase the merchandise at wholesale prices to then resell for profit. We also had friends that had custom shirts printed specifically for their adoption, which they then resold. Two drawbacks to this type of fundraising is that it will most likely raise small dollar amounts and you have to pay for the merchandise upfront, which may be an issue for some families.
Churches & Foundations. As mentioned above, our church started an adoption fund specifically for people to be able to give to who wanted to support families on their adoption journey even if they were not going to go on the same journey themselves. Additionally, there are many foundations and non-profits such as Show Hope that have grant programs to help off-set the cost of an adoption.
Garage Sales. We live in a large neighborhood in Franklin, Tennessee, which holds two community garage sales annually. With over 2,000 homes in our neighborhood, the garage sales draw people from a large geographic area and provides plenty of traffic to raise money for an adoption. We quietly asked a handful of friends for any donations of items they no longer wanted to sell in our garage sale and had five or six respond very generously, including our friends from Katy’s. We then advertised the garage sale as benefiting an adoption, posted it on Facebook, Twitter and Craigslist, and ended up having a really successful event.
Private Dinners. Whether it is a well-known local chef or just someone who is an extraordinary cook, we have had a couple of friends who invited select family and friends to a private dinner at a high cost-per-plate. This is a private twist on an old non-profit fundraising tactic that offers much more than the basic rubber chicken dinner.
Restaurant Events. We did not personally avail ourselves of an event at a restaurant but we have known several families that worked with an organization such as 1 Seed to host a fundraiser at a local restaurant. The basic premise is that that adopting family purchases the food upfront (or has it donated) and then hosts a lunch (or dinner) where family and friends volunteer as the wait staff and diners pay higher-than-average prices for their meals and also have an opportunity to make an additional donation at check out.
Retail Store Events. We have friends that run a local gift shop and Hallmark store who asked us if they could host a fundraising event on our behalf. The owners of Katy’s Gifts covered the labor cost for the night and then donated all of the proceeds from sales to our family. Additionally, several family members and friends offered to bake goods, which we then sold on the sidewalk outside the store. This bake-sale also served as a great distraction for our three boys as they manned the table outside, which meant that they were not inside running wild.
Sporting Events. This is another type of fundraising event that we did not personally experience but we had friends who did. Our alma mater, Lipscomb University, began hosting Adoption Rallies where the proceeds from all tickets sold to a given game would be donated to the adopting family. That adopting family would then do their best to get as many of their family, friends, co-workers and anyone else they know (or barely know) to come to the game.