Friday, January 24, 2014

Debt Free Adoption

After presenting at our monthly local orphan care meeting, I had a few requests to post all the info I'd gathered online somewhere for easy access. And it just so happens I have a blog for any platform I want. Lucky you guys!

Back in the olden days, before the internet was a legit thing, a hot young couple hastily jumped into an international adoption with an "Eh, we'll figure it out somehow" attitude and made dumb decisions. So this post is the opposite of what we did, kind of a "wish we would have known about that when we started all this biz years ago…" entry.

This only applies to private and international adoptions as adoptions through foster care do not cost the adopters anything. This also won't address tax info. That's over my head, frankly, but I have a couple people you could contact if you have questions about that. I will tell you though to keep a folder where you have copies of receipts of EVERY PENNY you spend on your adoption because the tax credit will need to be proven to be awarded. Give future-you a present by keeping all of that in one handy place from the beginning.

****Important point**** Make sure your fundraisers aren't always asking for money from the same people. Think of ways your community can reach out to others beyond your circle. Think of goods or services or events you can sell that would interest more than just your direct family and friends.

Before you look at my list and get super impressed, know that I gathered the majority of my info from (Author of Adoption without Debt). Her blog and book are PACKED with ideas and organizations. Go there. Often.

*Direct Grants- you fill out an application and they award you money (going to your agency, not your pocket). There's always criteria and rules. It's a lot of work to fill out the applications but IT'S FREE MONEY, PEOPLE. And once you fill out one application, a lot of them require the same info that you've already gathered. Go to to save yourself weeks of research. She's done all the hard work in finding and organizing all the grants out there. She keeps it up to date. She's your new best friend and probably has a pair of traveling pants with someone. (Check out Show Hope, A Child Waits, Affording Adoption, and Gift of Adoption to name a few)
*Abba Fund- Check with your church to see if they have an Abba Fund account. It works like an interest free loan. There are guidelines, of course, so check details!

(giving you a visual on what you're working so hard for)

Partner Organizations
*Pure Charity is a great online organization that you can channel funds through. Funds go to your agency, not you and as long as your agency is a 501c3, your donors get a tax deduction. Also, as long as you have an account, friends and family can go through your page to shop at Target, etc and you get credited a percentage of their purchases.

*GoFundMe and Paypal work similarly, except with GoFundMe you create a page, have a goal, can add updates and pictures, etc.

*Give 1, Save 1: Apply to this website to be their "Family of the week." They feature your family story for a week and run a campaign for a week. Lots of $1s add up!
(another visual)

Big Events (all eggs in one basket kinda stuff) (side note: if you know a friend with event planning skills, ask for help! You may be losing out on maximizing your event if you've never done something like this before!) (another side note: I don't believe you can sell alcohol at any of your events without the right permits. Look into that…)

*Both Hands Foundation: This is by far the best organization to help with fundraising that I've ever heard of. You raise potentially huge amounts for your adoption while serving the needs of widows in your community. It's brilliant. Check out the website!

*Food! Whether it's a pancake breakfast, spaghetti night, or pig roast, you can raise a lot if these are done right. Start with asking for donation of food items. Ask for volunteers to help cook, decorate and serve. Host a silent (and/or live) auction. Ask for big donations to auction off. Hold raffles all night. Host an "after party" that costs extra.

*Yard Sales: ask friends and family for donations of their stuff they're getting rid of anyway. Run a bake sale/lemonade stand along side it. Advertise like it's your job. Contact yard sale hosts the few weeks leading up to yours and ask for their leftovers (assuming they were taking it all to Goodwill anyway.) Make sure you indicate (in ads and at the sale) that proceeds go to an adoption.

*Photo Mini-session: If you've been here very long you know that we had a day of mini-sessions through Fresh Art Photography before Desmond's adoption. People paid a set amount (or more) for a time slot, we had multiple backdrops (all in a warehouse) and a variety of props. The photographers donated their time (which was unbelievable). I had friends bring us lunch, coffee or sodas as needed since we packed that day with A LOT of families.

*Karaoke Night: I read about this on Julie Gumm's website and loved it. See if you can get a venue, equipment and snacks donated (low overhead cost). People buy tickets to come but can also buy a "No Sing" necklace upon entering. This is important because you can pay a set fee as often as you want to make other people sing. Unless they're wearing the necklace. Make them expensive. =) I would also recommend raffles and silent/live auctions at this event.

*Trivia Nights are huge in St. Louis. People bring (and pay tickets for) a table of their friends. There's usually ten rounds of ten questions. Again, raffles and auctions are great at these.

*Freezer meals: One family had their community make a deep freezer full of ready-to-cook meals and raffled it off. The freezer was donated as were the meals. They made a significant amount of money raffling it off.

*Restaurants: A lot of restaurants will often partner with a family or organization for a percentage of one evenings meals to go to your cause. Then you advertise like crazy for family and friends to fill that place that night!

*Direct Sales Fair: Know anyone selling Arbonne, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Noonday? They're all looking for more customers anyway, so combine them all into one venue for one afternoon. Obviously asking them to share part of their proceeds with your adoption.

*Mustache Fight: I heard a story about a wife who wanted to her husband to shave his mustache. He didn't want to shave it. So they held a competition. Whoever raised the most money in a weeks time got to make the mustache decision. They raised over $1000 in the first 24 hours. This could also work with shaving head or dying hair a crazy color, etc. Get creative, peeps. It's just hair.

*Bingo Nights!
*Golf tournaments! Mini-Golf tournaments!
(A double visual, keep working hard.)

On-Going sales
*T-shirt sales

*Just Love Coffee: sign up for a "store front" and encourage your people to buy coffee through that site.

*ThredUpGather clothes (especially name brands) from family and friends and ship them (for FREE) to this company. They resell them online and you get paid up to 40% their resale value if they make the cut. You can do this as often as you want. They pay you via Paypal.

*Cash4shooz: This website pays by the pound. Gather up unwanted shoes and send them in!
(And another)

How to ask for donations, straight up.
(These can also be AT your big events)
*Puzzle Pieces: Buy a large numbered puzzle (depending on how big you think you're donor pool is). "Sell" pieces of the puzzle for a suggested donation. As people donate, you write their names on the blank side of the puzzle piece and once all pieces are bought, you put it together and frame it to post in your house somewhere.

*Envelope Tree: Get 100 or 150 envelopes and number them 1-150. People take the envelope with the number of what they're willing to donate. 100 envelopes = $5050, 150 envelopes = over $11,000.

*Tag-a-bag: (especially for international adopters or domestic traveling to another location) Get a piece of luggage that can be written on with permanent marker. Charge people a fee to write a message/sign their name on the suitcase (like they would a cast.) Then use that luggage for your pick up trip.

That's all I got, peeps. Seriously, go to Julie Gumm's website often. She's solid biz.

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