Congratulations, you have made the decision to grow your family through adoption and the planning has begun! The decision to adopt is a life-changing one and part of the planning and preparing means having some real conversations about money and how to go about financing an adoption. Depending on the type of adoption you choose, the average cost may range from $10,000-$40,000.
How you will fund your adoption journey is unique to your own financial situation. For a lot of families, this will include utilizing money in savings accounts, applying for grants, taking out loans, using adoption benefits available through an employer, adoption crowdfunding and if needed, fundraising. If thinking about how you will be able to afford to make this dream a reality feels overwhelming and maybe even steals some of the joy and excitement, that is understandable. Afterall, it only seems natural that you will want to focus more on thinking about the day you bring your baby home instead of worrying over how you will afford an expensive domestic or international adoption.
To help you get started with the financial planning part, I have compiled a few fun and effective ways to fundraise within your community and have included tips for using the Internet and social media to engage and share your adoption story with family, friends, and followers.
Social Media and the Internet
The most basic and easiest ways to incorporate social media and the Internet into your fundraising efforts include creating social media profiles and websites dedicated specifically to your cause. Several website hosting platforms such as Weebly, Wix, and WordPress offer free website hosting options. Having a website with coordinating Instagram and Facebook profiles is an easy way to share your story, update progress, share pictures and videos of fundraising events as well as providing a landing page where you can embed a Paypal button or set up e-commerce. Keep in mind that some upgrades to a website are available at a small additional monthly or one-time fee. How can you use social media platforms to raise money?
Social media challenges and campaigns
If you consider yourself savvy with social media and have a good following (or have connections to people with large followings) creating a social media challenge or campaign can be a fun way to raise awareness and support your cause. One of the most well-known social media challenges is the ASL ice bucket challenge. Each year videos and pictures surface of people dumping buckets of ice over their heads to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. You may not be able to create that big of a buzz, but with a catchy hashtag and a creative-yet safe challenge, you may be pleasantly surprised at the response.
Tips for creating a successful campaign:
- Create a good simple title that will be your “message.” It is likely the first thing to catch someone’s attention.
- Create a coordinating hashtag that is easily remembered.
- Determine how long the challenge will run.
- Set up a landing page for the campaign, a place where you can share your story and keep followers updated on how your fundraiser is going.
A landing page is a great place to post pictures that participants have sent, pictures of yourself, and maybe consider vlogging (video blogging) during the time the challenge is running; this will keep followers engaged, and it is a good way to ask for a donation or let people know how they can donate or get involved in your fundraising campaign. There are social media management platforms such as Hootsuite that allow you to create and schedule social media posts ahead of time, and they will get published across your social media accounts on the days and times you choose. This is an easy way to keep your current events, hashtags, and links active in others feeds without requiring you to login and post on several networking sites.
Crowdfunding basically means raising funds for a cause online. One of the most common sites for personal crowdfunding is GoFundMe. Creating a GoFundMe fundraising page is fairly straightforward. Your fundraising page should tell your story and include pictures or videos. They recommend starting out by sharing it with your inner circle of family and friends to get the campaign started and little by little share it to a larger circle of people. Ask family and friends to share on their social media profiles, include a link in your email signature, and update the page periodically to let people know how your progress is going or what you are most looking forward to when your baby comes home. One of the benefits of a GoFundMe page is the ability to incorporate it with your other fundraising plans, making it an easy and secure place for people to make a donation.
Create a donation page
If you are not using crowdfunding, you will need another way for family, friends, and supporters to make a donation. There are several platforms that can help you with the process of setting up a donation page, or if you already have a website, you should have the option of adding a donation button directly to it.
Crafts, Creativity, and Community
Have a knack for all things crafty? Know people who do? Combine efforts and hold a community craft fair or festival! Knitting, crochet, woodworking, homemade jewelry, hand-painted items, photography, handmade soaps, and all other things creative make for a great afternoon of shopping and giving. Want to make the best of the afternoon? Incorporate a 50/50 raffle from items donated from either local companies or crafters.
People love to get something in return when making a donation. Team up with a local merchandising company to create and sell items such as t-shirts or wristbands with your personalized website/social media information, a favorite logo, or get creative and run a contest to create some buzz. No need for professional artists; elicit members of your family and community to submit their very own artwork and choose a winner whose image will be proudly displayed on all t-shirts and other items purchased.
Teach a class
Do you have a special talent or skill that may benefit others? Several community colleges offer inexpensive workshops or classes on nights or weekends to help members of the community develop new skills or improve on others. Some popular areas for teaching range from computer skills, bookkeeping, household finance management, photography, resume writing, and many more.
Food and fun
Speaking of community, people love food—especially when it is prepared for them! Partner up with local restaurants, food trucks, ice cream shops, and bakeries that are willing to donate a portion of proceeds from dine in and takeout orders for a specific day to your fundraiser. People also love to show off their culinary skills. A chili cook-off is a great way to bring a little competitive edge to a good cause. Charge per bowl or cup, include an entry fee, and split the prize money with the winner!
Host a celebrity cooking class
Know a great chef from a local restaurant? Consider hosting a cooking class, invite family and friends, and charge a fee in the form of a donation to your cause. This is a chance to create memories and enjoy a good meal with those who feel connected to your cause.
If you are a member of a local church or organization, consider sharing your story with them and asking if they would be okay holding an envelope or ornament fundraiser. For an envelope fundraiser, make it more fun and eye-catching by purchasing different color envelopes. On each envelope, write a dollar amount and pin them to a decorated cork board in the lobby or main gathering area. People can come by, choose an envelope with a dollar amount of their choice, place the money in the envelope, seal it, and drop it in a donation box. During the holidays, ornaments each worth different dollar amounts can be purchased. Likewise, if it is near Valentine’s Day, cut out hearts can be displayed or hung in place of envelopes.
Raffles are straight forward; all you need is raffle tickets, a prize, and a way to get the word out. What can you raffle off? The skies the limit (and maybe your budget), but you can contact local businesses and ask for items or services to be donated. In exchange, they get free marketing and exposure. Some ideas for raffles include the following:
- Gift baskets – It’s an extra bonus if they are themed, beach, holiday, skincare, grilling/bbq, coffee/tea
- Gift certificate – This could be a manicure/pedicure, massage, hair salon, or local barber
- Date night – Give out movie tickets or restaurant gift card
- 50/50- This is where half of the proceeds go towards the winner and the other half to the cause
Networking with multi-level or direct sales companies is a simple way to raise money for a cause and help a small business owner grow their business. With so many direct sales companies, there is sure to be something for everyone, and you are no longer limited to hosting an in-home party. Several of these companies offer fundraising programs. To maximize the most for your time, find a venue with a free or inexpensive community room that you can rent out and contact several direct sales consultants and see who would be interested in participating in a one-stop-shop afternoon. Explain why you are fundraising and inquire about consultants donating a portion of their commission from sales back to you.
Another trend in direct marketing sales are online parties. Consultants team up with a hostess to create a unique website link to an online party. Shoppers can browse and make purchases any time of the day from the luxury of their homes. Social media is generally used to invite guests to the party which allows you to connect with friends of friends.
Some of the more common direct sales companies include Pampered Chef and Tastefully Simple for all your cooking needs, Mary Kay, Avon, Arbonne International, Nu Skin, Rodan & Fields, and Younique for skincare and makeup, Beachbody, Shaklee, and Herbalife for your health and fitness buffs and doTerra, LuLaRoe, Scentsy, and Thirty-One round out popular products.
Silent auctions can be fun and engaging with a bit of creativity. The basics of what you will need include items or services to bid off, a place to display them, a method of bidding, and a way to collect payment from the winning bids. Items can be donated from local companies. You can create gift baskets on your own. Items to be auctioned can include services as well, spa day, massage, manicure/pedicure, tour a local brewery or winery, tickets to an amusement park, zoo or concert, photography, or other art class. Groupon is a great place to find deals on local entertainment that can be auctioned off.
Short on Time?
Time is a precious commodity. If you are running low on it, here are a few quick ways to raise money in a short amount of time. Team up with a local church or other organization that is highly visible and easily accessed within your community and hold a car wash, indoor yard sale, or bake sale.
To recap, your fundraising efforts are only limited by your imagination! Brainstorm and choose several that will be a good fit for you. You won’t want to bombard family and friends all at once with multiple requests for donations, so plan to hold different events at different times throughout the year.
In closing, I think it is important to touch upon the fact that fundraising may not be right for you, but if it is, you may find that not all of the people in your social and family circle will agree with it. Before asking for donations and starting campaigns, consider talking with a trusted financial advisor to make sure you are fully utilizing your own financial resources first and work on creating a budget that will allow you to maximize your savings throughout the adoption process.
Debbie Logan is a Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in North Carolina. She is passionate about helping individuals and couples improve their relationships and create lasting connections. Debbie has been married to her husband Chris for over 20 years and together they have 2 sons. As a birthmother in reunion, Debbie chose a semi-open adoption plan for her daughter in 1989 and has been navigating her reunion journey since 2007. Advocating for birthmothers is an important part of Debbieâ€™s adoption journey. She has spoken at several workshops and served on a birth mom panel at the Concerned Persons for Adoption Conference in 2001. She is slightly obsessed with German Shepherd dogs, visiting farmerâ€™s markets and drinking coffee! You can connect with Debbie on Instagram (@debbie_loganmft) or by visiting www.debbieloganmft.com.