Affording Adoption: Fundraisers

Last week I wrote a post about how people can fund their adoptions through grants, interest free loans, employee assistance programs, and the adoption tax credit. You can review those ideas by clicking here. I am so excited that my last post has already been viewed 1,200 times! Hopefully people are feeling encouraged and less fearful that obtaining the necessary funds will be impossible.

As I've said many times before, EVERYONE can get involved in orphan care. Oftentimes, when people are deciding whether or not to adopt, they feel like they should obtain all of their funding alone. Men especially, I think, might feel ashamed or too prideful to ask for help. When we have this kind of attitude, we miss out on three critical opportunities.

First, we 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...it was all so very humbling. The appreciation, love, and reverence we experienced for our friends, family, coworkers, and strangers is something that we carry 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 God showed up through all of their actions.

Second, when we decide to hold fundraisers, we give the people around us the 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 a cause, it automatically becomes more personal to them.

Third, when people donate time and/or money to help an 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. This 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 never know unless you invite people into your journey.

Again, when we held our puzzle fundraiser, our main reason for doing so was to give people the opportunity to get involved in orphan care. Spreading awareness of this dark reality is something God has really laid on my heart. I think about it all throughout the day, as it constantly weighs on my mind. I want to give the people who read my blog information, encouragement, challenges, and authenticity. Information is power, and if you are scared to pursue adoption because of the finances involved, then I am going to empower you with so 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 - Mudlove bracelets, Goat's Milk products, Mixed Bags, Tukula Bags, Scarlet Threads, 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.

Twelve year old Grace held a China-themed babysitting night and raised $430 to bring our son home
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 this 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.
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. 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.

An example photo we emailed or posted on Facebook for each family who donated to our puzzle fundraiser with a personal thank you note.

As you determine how to fund your adoption, please remember to RAISE MONEY WITH A HUMBLE AND GRATEFUL ATTITUDE. 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. Every child deserves a family, and money cannot be the reason they remain orphans. If you have other fundraising ideas, please feel free to leave a comment for all to see!


Funding Your Adoption

When I talk to most people, the number one roadblock they see to adoption is MONEY. In reality, how many people have $30,000+ sitting around without a purpose (such as an emergency fund)? Not many. Because I am so involved in the adoption community now, I see family after family after family begin their adoption journey without the necessary funds, and through grants, fundraisers, picking up extra jobs, being extremely careful with their personal spending, etc., they have every single penny they need to bring their children home. One woman wrote me and said...

"There was only one time we doubted [that we would have enough money] near the beginning. We had a payment due and didn't have enough. I started to really doubt. The very next day a check for the EXACT amount we lacked was in our mailbox with a note that said "God prompted me to give you this amount at this time." They had no way of knowing! Totally God. He funds what He favors!!!!!"

We can read story after story in the Bible about how God provided when His people were in need. Why do we believe that He would stand by without blessing us - without helping us - if we follow His command to care for the orphan? When we step out in faith, God provides! Experiencing that first hand has helped me believe it all the more.

When we began our adoption journey, we got out of our contract to buy 4 acres of land and build a house that we had designed ourselves. This gave us $25,000 at the start of our adoption. Ryan's work reimburses $5,000 of adoption expenses, so we asked people to sponsor puzzle pieces in order to raise $5,000. We would then take the reimbursed money from Ryan's work and pay it forward to another adoptive family. In 9 days, our friends, family, and coworkers donated $5,425! It still blows my mind. We can't wait for God to show us where to pay forward that money, as it is still sitting in our adoption savings account just waiting to be given. We also held a garage sale for 3 days with lots of our own items but also dozens and dozens of donations from other families. This sale resulted in just over $1,000. We knew that bringing Tucker home would cost more than $31,000, and just as I was beginning to wonder how we would find the rest of our funds, I got an email from my friend, Lisa, who said that her husband wanted to raise money for our family during his 100 mile race. I was blown away!! Lisa and Andy gave us $6,000 of the donations and then gave $1,000 to five different families who were adopted with the rest of the donations. God provided for our family through a combination of our of own financial decisions and the generosity of so many friends, family members, strangers, and coworkers. When God leads you to it, He will see you through it! To doubt that would make us just like the Israelites doubting God in the wilderness, Sarah and Abraham doubting that God would give them a son, and Gideon doubting that God would use him to defeat the Midianites.

I recently posted in several different adoption Facebook groups asking people to share how they funded their adoptions. I want to share these ideas with you to help you believe that money can't be the reason you don't move forward with adoption. Just click on the links below to learn more.


For families who completed their adoptions in 2013, they might be eligible for the Adoption Tax Credit of a maximum of $12,970. For more information, please view my previous post explaining how this credit works.


Adopt Together - This nonprofit organization allows your family and friends to make tax deductible donations to your family, and then they will match or exceed the amount donated.

Hand in Hand - Tax deductible donations are made to this organization by your family, friends, coworkers, and strangers. Matching grants are then provided to adoptive families.

Lifesong - Matching grants ($1,000-$4,000) are provided to families adopting, and donations made by family, friends, coworkers, and strangers are tax deductible.

JSC Foundation - The amount of money awarded varies and is at the discretion of the foundation. I know one family that was given $10,000 by this incredible organization. Applications are due January 15, March 15, May 15, August 15, and October 15 of each year. Families are notified by the end of the following month.

Show Hope - This organization was founded by Steven and Mary Beth Chapman in honor of their daughter, who they adopted from China, but passed away tragically. The six application due dates are Feb 28th, April 30th, Jun 30th, Aug 31st, Oct 31st, Dec 31st. These grants are $4,000 on average.

Families Outreach - Families must be adopting through a nonprofit agency, have a completed home study, and have endorsement from their pastor.

Global Orphan Foundation - Applications are due June 1st and December 1st. Grants awarded up to $11,000 to aid families with adoption.

NAMB - This organization provides grants to pastors/families in ministry.

Chosen for Life - Their mission is to educate and engage the people of our local churches and communities on ways they can live in obedience to God’s command to visit orphans in their affliction in our neighborhood and around the world. They provide grants to families in the adoption process.

Salvation International - Applications are due April 1st and October 1st. Grants awarded range from $500-$5,000.

Rollstone Foundation - Aids with the adoption of children with special needs (FYI: Tucker is considered special needs). One family reported a grant of $2,000 from this great organization.

ABBA Fund - Your family, friends, coworkers, and strangers can make a tax deductible donation to ABBA fund, and then the money is awarded to your family at the end of your fundraiser.

Affording Adoption Foundation - Many grants are around $1,000.

Brittany's Hope - Families are asked to raise half of the money granted to them.

A Child Waits - Grants up to $5,000 for people pursuing international adoption through a nonprofit agency.

Gift of Adoption Fund - Grants between $1,000-$7,500 for families who have completed their home study.

God's Grace Adoption Ministry - Provides matching grants to families who are Christian, are a two parent family, and make less than $60,000 per year. A typical matching grant is $2,500.

Help Us Adopt - Provides up to $15,000 grants to families adopting. Applications are due in April and October.

Katelyn's Fund - Provides grants for families making less than $100,000 per year.

National Adoption Foundation - Grants range from $500-$2,000.

Parenthood for Me - Grants range from $2,000-$5,000 for families who do NOT have any children.

Sea of Faces - Applications accepted in March, June, September, and December. Their goal is to provide three $1,000-$3,000 grants per quarter.




Pathways for Little Feet

Forever Family Ministries


Check to see if your employer provides a benefit (like Ryan's company) for adoptive families.

Money cannot be the reason that these children stay in orphanages.
Money cannot be the reason children with treatable medical conditions do not survive.
Money cannot be the reason that children do not get to experience the love of a family.
I really hope that this blog gives you hope that grants and loans are available to help families bring these precious children home. My next post will provide fundraising ideas for adoptions!
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