How to fundraise for your adoption

Tips to help you engage others in your journey

By Cammy Lockwood

When you start fundraising for your adoption, it's like throwing your doors open wide and welcoming your community into your house. You are opening yourself to generosity and many blessings by allowing a community of family, friends, colleagues and neighbours to actively participate in your adoption journey. Every donation you receive, no matter the amount, is evidence of the heart behind it – the desire to see one more child home. 

Provided here is a basic guideline for successful adoption fundraising. Keep in mind that every fundraising story is as unique as each family’s adoption story. Fundraising is not easy and will not feel “comfortable,” so as you read this document, think about your circumstances and which strategies will work best for your family, not which strategies are the most comfortable for you. 

  1. Trust in God. This is absolutely the most important point about fundraising. He knows exactly how much you need and how He is going to give it to you. Before you start fundraising, take some time to pray as a family and ask the Lord how He wants you to fundraise. Listen to His voice and be honest about your fear of fundraising, and any fears about trusting in God. 

    It is not “ungodly” to ask friends, family and your church family for money, but many people (who are themselves afraid to fundraise), will quickly label such fundraising activities as “not trusting in God.” If this happens to you, don’t be discouraged. You will find that fundraising builds community – something that is part of God’s heart – and God’s purposes for your adoption likely include building His church in unity. 

    God may also call you not to begin fundraising and to instead trust Him to provide everything you need. Again, many who are afraid to fully trust God will likely call you “lazy” and accuse you of waiting on others to fund your adoption. Again, God has a greater purpose in mind. Whatever God asks of you, trust Him with all your heart. 
  2. Know your heart; know your story. Showing your heart and sharing with sincerity why you want to adopt is the key to successful fundraising – not what you can sell for how much profit. Finances and emotions are so closely linked that people will most often give or purchase what you are selling because you have spoken to their heart. As Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34).
  3. Set up a way for people to give. This can be done very simply by creating a web page or a blog that includes an online donation collection service such as ChipIn. You can also speak to a bank about creating a trust account that has very low fees. The advantage is that it will separate your adoption funds from your personal finances; people can write cheques to “Smith family adoption fund” and not “Jane Smith.” In addition, you can collect cash donations and personal cheques. 
  4. Start with yourself and your immediate family. What can you give up to help save money? Daily lattes? Dinners out? Cable TV? Cell phones? Can you ride a bike to work and save the gas money? This can easily become a family project, and if you already have children, this may be a great opportunity to teach the value of sacrifice. Chances are their enthusiasm will set an example for you. Your community will also look to you for a “leadership gift”; you need to show how important this adoption is to you by sharing how much you can afford to put toward your adoption, and how much you can sacrifice to increase your contribution. 
  5. Start with who you know. The people you know have front-row seats to your life and your future family, and they are most likely to support you financially. Chances are, they are waiting to be asked! These people will continue to support you throughout the adoption process and well into the future. Fundraising by simply asking develops a support network that you can count on in the future; when friends and family are financially invested in your family, they really want to see a successful adoption.

    Ask by letter, email and/or blog. Click here to view a template of a letter you can modify to suit your needs. Asking is the hardest part; do keep in mind that people want to give. Giving blesses the giver. Don’t think of it as “asking for money,” but as providing an opportunity for people to receive joy. As you write, show that by donating to your family, the potential donor will be drastically changing the life of a child. Emphasize the child’s need for a family, not your own need for adoption expenses.

    Ask via presentation. If you are a member of a church or a club, talk to the leadership about your adoption and your financial need. Ask for five minutes to speak to the congregation about your adoption, then pray in preparation for those five minutes. Ask God to give you the words to say, and to move people’s hearts for the cause. When you do speak, remember to simply share your story and share your need, asking people to give what they feel led to give.

    Work with what people offer you. Some people may not be able to give financially but will offer you gifts in kind – talents or services. Try to find creative ways to utilize what people are offering; there are often ways to turn it into fundraising opportunities. For example, if an artist offers you a painting, you can auction it. Do you have a friend who can organize well? Ask them to organize the auction. It brings more joy to people when they can do what they love, knowing that it will help a child too.
  6. Work with what you know. What do you do for work? Are you really good at sales? Do you have excellent craft skills? Any skill or talent or product that you create can be turned into something that can raise money. Be creative and spend some time praying and thinking about how you can use what you have to generate funds. God has probably already given you everything you need to raise the funds you require.

Fundraising is not something that most people enjoy doing, yet once you walk through this, you will be amazed at how much blessing you receive – blessing that goes far beyond the funds. This is an amazing opportunity for God to show His glory in your life, to show His provision and His ways. Be prepared for the unexpected and be prepared for blessings you could not have imagined. Look to God, and in the path ahead, look for Him where you least expect to find Him.

I recommend the following resources:

  • Example fundraising letter – An “ask letter” that you can easily modify to send or email to everyone you know
  • A Spirituality of Fundraising, by Henri J.M. Nouwen – An excellent booklet about God’s purposes in the activity of fundraising  
  •  - A group of adoptive families who offer adoption-focused apparel to sell to raise funds for adoption
  • – A website that you can use to create a “widget” that allows you to accept donations to your PayPal account.

Cammy Lockwood is a professional fundraiser. She and her husband are pursuing God’s plan for adoption for their family.

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