Hello! My name is Amy Abell, and I am so excited to have this opportunity to be a guest blogger for No Hands But Ours.
I began blogging soon after I became pregnant with my first son, Noah, in 2007 and continued to blog when my second son, Liam, surprised us with a cleft lip at birth. We knew Liam’s smile had a purpose for our lives, and when it finally led us to adoption in July 2012, we were both shocked and excited! I chronicled our adoption journey and grew more and more passionate about orphan care every day. After bringing our son, Tucker, home from China in October 2013, my desire for more families to get involved in helping the fatherless has gained a stronger sense of urgency.
Typically, I hear people name MONEY as the number one reason they are afraid to move forward with adoption. Few people have $30,000 lying around to use toward an adoption, and they think they must finance their adoptions alone. Men seem to feel especially ashamed or too prideful to ask for help. When people adopt this kind of attitude, they miss out on three critical opportunities.
First, people miss out on the opportunity to see God work through the people in our lives. Seeing people donating items to our garage sale, running a 100 mile race, fundraising on our behalf, sponsoring puzzle pieces, and selling t-shirts was all so very humbling. The appreciation, love, and reverence we experienced for our friends, family, coworkers, and strangers is still carried in our hearts today. I was brought to tears so many times seeing the people around us supporting us and sacrificing for our family. It still gives me chills to think about how we felt God’s presence through all of their actions.
Second, when people hold fundraisers, their family, friends, coworkers, and strangers have an opportunity to get involved in orphan care. For many, this will be the first time they have lived out James 1:27. When people give their time and money to any cause, it automatically becomes more personal to them.
Third, when people donate time and/or money to help a adoptive families bring home their children, they experience the intrinsic reward of helping someone else, which can result in wanting to get more involved in orphan care. Your adoption could be the door God uses to open other people’s hearts to the fatherless. Maybe they will become foster parents. Maybe they will find a way help children who will never be adopted. Maybe they will host orphans or even adopt themselves. You will never know unless you invite people into your journey.
Information is power, and if you are scared to pursue adoption because of the finances involved, then today I am going to empower you with many ideas to raise money for your adoption.
1. Garage Sale – When you add your items to the collection of items donated from friends, family, coworkers, and strangers, you can really raise a lot of money for your adoption. One family told me that they raised $6,000 just through garage sales! Here are some tips for holding a successful garage sale. Here is a recap of our garage sale adventures.
2. Craigslist or Ebay – Sell more significant items through these websites. I even know one woman who sold her wedding ring. Seriously, when you make the decision to bring a child into your family through adoption, you will do nearly anything to get that child home.
3. Photography Session – For those of you who are amateur or professional photographers, this is another way to raise money.
4. Selling Items for Businesses – Scarlet Threads, Mudlove bracelets, Goat’s Milk products, Mixed Bags, Tukula Bags, bed sheets, cookie dough.
5. Selling Handmade or Homemade Items – nursery letters, quilts, jewelry, key chains, coasters, self-designed cookbooks, Christmas ornaments, hair accessories, knitted or crocheted items, paintings, pizzas, desserts, etc. If you have a gift for creating, you can sell your creations to others.
6. Food-Related Fundraising Event – Ice Cream Socials, Spaghetti Dinners, Banana Split Social, Soup Dinners, Chili Dinners, Lasagna Dinner, Pancake Breakfast, or Murder Mystery Dinner.
7. Restaurant Fundraising Event – Chick-fil-A, Orange Leaf, Panda Express, Pizza Hut, Fazoli’s, etc.
8. Benefit Concert with Dinner – If you or someone you know is gifted musically, this could be a great option for you. One family shared with me that they planned a nice meal, had a silent auction (63 baskets filled with everything from donated Diamond Rio VIP tickets to oil changes) and had a group of friends come and perform (singing). They charged $10 a ticket and sold between 80-90 tickets. The food was donated, the location was donated, the entertainment was donated, and most of the baskets and items were donated. They had great success with their benefit, raising $4,000!
9. Make and Sell T-shirts – Everyone wears t-shirts, and it is fun to have t-shirts to remember various events in your life. Contact local printing companies or even use an organization like Fund the Nations, 147 Million Orphans, or Adoption Bug.
10. Puzzle Piece Fundraiser – Your family, friends, coworkers, and strangers can sponsor puzzle pieces for $5, $10, or any amount that helps you reach you goal. Then, you can hang your completed puzzle in your child’s room as a constant reminder to all of the people who worked to bring your child home. Here is my post about our puzzle piece fundraiser, along with the You Caring webpage we created (our video is still there) and used to process donations. Here is my post at the completion of our fundraiser after people donated $5,425 in just nine days.
11. Change Collection – One family wrote and shared they passed out containers (paper printable) to their friends, family, and coworkers and asked them to put spare change into them. It is amazing how quickly loose change can add up and help bring these kids home.
12. Grow Your Blog Giveaway – For those of you who have a network of bloggers, one family held a Grow Your Blog Giveaway. Various bloggers donated their ad space for a chance to win a prize. To be honest, I know less about this option, but for those of you who are serious in the blog world, I’m sure you understand what this means.
13. Online Auction – Families can use Facebook or their blogs to host an online auction. You can post pictures and descriptions of various items and services, set minimum bids, and hold an auction. Many artisans from Etsy will donate items and appreciate the free marketing you provide.
14. Lawn Mowing or Babysitting Night – Do you have older children who want to help bring their siblings home? They can mow lawns or hold babysitting nights and donate their earned money.
15. Create an Etsy Shop – For those of you who have the ability to create, opening an Etsy shop is an easy way to sell your craft. This is an easy way to raise money if you can make desirable items.
16. Send a Formal Letter – Sending a formal letter to friends, family, and coworkers explaining what led you to adoption, who the child is (if that is known), why their support would be appreciated, and how grateful you are for their consideration. If you have a matching grant or a way for people to make tax-deductible donations, make sure you provide that information, as well. If you have a blog or a website where they can follow your journey and/or make donations online, provide that, as well.
17. Painting Party – Are you a talented artist? If not, could you find someone to donate their time to hold a painting party? You could charge a set amount to cover the materials, and the remainder could be applied to your adoption fund.
18. Both Hands Fundraiser – The purpose of a Both Hands Fundraiser is to help people raise funds for orphans while serving widows through home improvement projects. I have seen several families hold a Both Hands Fundraiser with great success. Not only do they team up with their friends, family, and coworkers to serve a widow in their community together – donating hours of service time – but they are able to then raise money to bring home their children. One family shared that $8,000 was donated to their fundraiser!
19. Create a You Caring Website for Online Donations – The best website, in my opinion, for adoption fundraisers is You Caring when you do not have a matching grant where people can make tax deductible donations. This website only allows certain types of fundraisers, and adoption is one of them. You Caring does not retain any portion of donations. The only fees collected are through PayPal (2.7% + 30 cents per transaction). All other fundraising websites that I viewed kept a percentage of the donations for themselves. This ended up being 10% of total donations for some websites, and to be honest, I will not make online donations to those websites, as I want as much of every dollar I donate to be used. Our total PayPal fees collected on $5,425 worth of donations was only $117 (note: we had some donations made offline by check, so fees were not taken). Here is an example of a family trying to raise funds through You Caring to bring home four brothers from Haiti.
20. Hold a Sporting Event or Participate in One – If you are someone who likes to organize events, create your own 5k, 10k, volleyball tournament, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, or golf outing to raise money for your adoption. If organizing events is not your specialty, participate in an existing event such as a mini-marathon, marathon, or in our friend Andy’s case, a 100 mile race. You can ask people to sponsor you per mile or just donate a lump sum. Have friends participate with you and ask them to do the same! Having friends and family working to support your cause is one of the most humbling feelings in the world.
21. Christmas-Related Fundraisers – If you are going to fundraise around the holidays, you could easily incorporate the theme into your fundraiser. If you enjoy gift wrapping, offer to wrap others gifts for a set price or ask for donations only. I also remember a family having a Meet Santa fundraiser where they provided breakfast, the opportunity to meet Santa, a craft, games, etc. and charged for tickets. You could sell individual tickets or charge per family. I can’t remember how much money they made specifically, but I remember it being a successful fundraiser!
22. Be Willing to Make Personal Sacrifices – This is so important! When you are fundraising for an adoption, you are putting yourself under a magnifying glass in some ways. People can be very judgmental, and they will appreciate seeing you make financial sacrifices. Working overtime, getting a second job, cancelling your gym membership, cancelling your cable/satellite service (that can be $1,200 easy), going out to eat less often, etc. are all ways to show that you are being responsible. Taking several trips or vacations, buying unnecessary items, and obvious overspending can deter people from wanting to help your family.
Not every single one of these ideas will work for your family, nor do I suggest having 20 different fundraisers at once. People get overwhelmed and confused by how to get involved. Keep it simple and be intentional about choosing your fundraisers. You need to feel invested in them and excited about them if they have any chance of being successful.
As you determine how to fund your adoption, please remember to raise money with a grateful and humble heart. I cannot stress this enough! People want to know that you appreciate their donation no matter if it is $5 or $500. Find a way to thank each person individually if possible in order to show your gratitude. Making someone feel appreciated goes a long way. Try to use language such as “$5,000 was donated to our fundraiser” rather than “We raised $5,000 with our fundraiser.” By saying it the first way, you are recognizing the support of other people rather than your own efforts. This is so important! Yes, of course you worked hard to execute your fundraiser, but without donations, they would not be successful.
I hope you find these fundraising ideas helpful! My goal is to remove any barriers that exist to bringing more children home. Next week, I will share some other ways to fund your adoption through grants, interest free loans, employee assistance programs, and the adoption tax credit. Additional fundraising ideas can be found at a blog called Walking by the Way. I wanted to highlight these top 22 ideas in order to give you the idea that there is a variety of ways to raise money for your adoption.
For those who fear fundraising — embrace a willing spirit to watch God move in HUGE ways – rest assured it WILL be outside your comfort zone. More than $8,000 worth of items were donated to our Yard sale. Yes, you heard that right…$8,000+. Amy is right on too…people WANT to be involved. I committed to writing a personal thank you note to every single person who donated money, items and time no matter how big or small. I then went back after he came home and sent adoption announcements to all those same folks who had contributed to his homecoming in some way.
Great Post! We have adopted twice and it was amazing to see God work through our fundraisers (we did most of what you listed above plus a few more). The only three i would caution people on are: A. T-shirts (as cool as it seems I have yet to meet anyone who has raised a lot with these and many people end up spending more on the shirts than they make) B. A Donation Link on your blog. This just looks like begging if there is nothing actually attached to it and can turn some potential supporters away. The Puzzle though is AWESOME. we did it too. and C. Direct Sales. These tend to push more people away than they attract and can tend to cost you more than they are worth and can be extremely time consuming to make work.
Love these ideas…especially the puzzle! How did you make?
How can you customize a puzzle? I’d like info and try this idea.
I am planning to start a crowd fundcampain to raise funds for families that want to adopt. My family would be one these families. The concept is that the more we are, the best. More people will share this and maybe eventually we will manage to raise funds for 5 – 6 families. If some is interested to participate please write me at email@example.com to talk about the details.
I am a mom of two beautiful adopted children. My husband and I had to think outside the box in order to have the money to adopt. I have a couple of ideas I would be glad to share. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for this. My husband and I are in the early stages of making the choice to adopt, and finding a way to raise the money has been the biggest issue for him. At 35 years old, I have had multiple miscarriages, and now I’m told that adoption is really the only healthy option I have. Blogs and comments like these give me such hope that we can do this!
Hello Amy – My husband and I currently in the adoption journey, and I love the puzzle idea. Can you tell me where you had your puzzle made?
Love all these ideas! I’m currently doing the puzzle piece fundraiser for my cousin. I put it out there through social media via Facebook and have not made as much money as I would have like too for her. Not sure where I went wrong. I came across this site as I was looking for more ideas on how to raise money for her. Getting the word out is so important. She is a single, a special needs teacher, and is adopting from Chilna a special needs child. I love reading all the idea your site has. Thank You for sharing.
Check out Thrive Mobile boutique. It’s a new business and offers a percentage of sales, in person or online, to help with adoption fund-raising. The owner worked at a faith based adoption agency, and has a heart for adopting families.