Adoption Fundraising Guide

A few tips on raising money for your adoption.

Jeanette Green March 26, 2015

So you want to adopt. That’s pretty exciting. Maybe you’ve just started your paperwork; maybe you have been waiting for what feels like a really, really long time; and maybe you’re somewhere in between. Chances are, no matter where you are in your journey, you have thought about money. Adoption is undoubtedly filled with an incredible amount of joy. However, there is a lot of mental, emotional, and—it’s true—financial stress that comes along with it as well.

Because of this financial stress, fundraising has become an increasingly popular way for adoptive families to raise the funds they need to complete their families. In the following guide you will find information that will help you get started on your path to adoption fundraising. Please keep in mind that these are only suggestions to assist you as you begin creating your own fundraiser. Slides 1-3 will give you background information about adoption expenses, slides 4-12 will give you steps to creating a fundraising event, slides 13-17 explain how to set up an online fundraising campaign, and slides 18-21 are final points to remember as you set forth on your personal adoption fundraising endeavor. Fundraising takes time. Fundraising takes a lot of effort. But fundraising can help the parents make their adoption dreams a reality.

Are you considering growing your family through domestic infant adoption? For a free and confidential consultation with an adoption professional, click here.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about financing your adoption, click here to learn about fundraising options or click here to learn about your loan options.

Background: Foster Adoption
1. Background: Foster Adoption

There are over 510,000 children in the foster care system, and well over 100,000 of these children are legally available for adoption. It’s difficult to even imagine that number of children looking for stable homes. In 2012, more than 7,000 children were adopted from foster care, but there are thousands more who are still hoping for a permanent family. Because of this great need, states are willing to do what they can to bring children into families. If you are willing and ready to love a child who desperately needs it, there will be a way for you to afford it.

For example, adopting through foster care is by far the least expensive adoption option. Public agency expenses range from $0-$3,000. Children placed from foster care are generally considered to have special needs, so the actual adoption fee through a foster adoption program can be very low. Additionally, in many states adoptive families can receive care subsidies until the child reaches the age of 18.

For more information on foster adoption, you can view our foster adoption guide.

Background: Private Domestic Adoption
2. Background: Private Domestic Adoption

There are approximately 18,000 domestic adoptions completed each year in the United States. At least half of these are private or independent adoptions.

Private domestic adoptions have a wide range of expenses. Depending on the agency you feel comfortable working with, you could spend anywhere between $10,000 - $30,000+ by the time finalization occurs. You are paying the agency to handle all the paperwork (including preparing your home study), provide counseling to all parties involved, ensure that birth parent needs are met, cover medical expenses, and perform post-placement supervision. All of these services, including agency overhead and operating expenses, are not cheap. Many families save money for years in order to adopt. Some choose to take out adoption loans. Now it is becoming more and more popular to create a fundraiser in order to earn all the money necessary for an adoption.

For more information about domestic adoption, you can check out our guide to domestic infant adoption.

Background: International Adoption
3. Background: International Adoption

In 2013, nearly 7,100 children were adopted through international programs. Many of these children had been living in orphanages in developing countries.

The cost for international adoptions vary depending on agency, country, and traveling expenses. But you can plan on an international adoption costing anywhere between $25,000 - $50,000.

For more information about international adoption, take a look at our international adoption guide.

Step One: Ask Yourself, “Is Fundraising Right For Me?”
4. Step One: Ask Yourself, “Is Fundraising Right For Me?”

Before you get started, sit down and do a quick self-evaluation.

- How much money do you need?
- When do you need it by?
- How much money do you currently have that can go towards this adoption?
- If someone else did a fundraiser toward an adoption, how would you feel about it?

That last question is a good one to really ask and evaluate. Often families can feel insecure, embarrassed, or flat-out weird asking people for money. However, when the tables are turned, they answer that they would willingly donate money to a friend who was trying to raise money for an adoption. If you want to do a fundraiser but are stuck in this mindset, think of it this way: You are surrounded by people who are cheering you on. Generally speaking, people are looking for opportunities to help others, and if they can help someone they love, all the better. You aren’t forcing anyone to give you money. Rather, you are creating an opportunity for people to give, if they can and want to, while helping fill in financial gaps so you can add to your family.

To learn more about how other adoptive parents see this issue, visit our adoption forum dedicated to the fundraising question.

Step Two: Form a Committee
5. Step Two: Form a Committee

Your initial committee may only involve your spouse or a few family members. That’s okay. Use those around you to navigate through the experience. You’ll want people on your committee who are creative, easy-going, organized, and structured. Having different personality types helps you get things done! But you also want to have fun together, too. Don’t forget that.

Step Three: Choose Your Event
6. Step Three: Choose Your Event

When you first meet with your committee, brainstorm ideas. What could you do as a fundraiser? What feels natural to you? Are you an active family? Maybe a race or walk sounds like your style. For others, it might be a dinner, auction, dance, yard sale, bake sale . . . the possibilities are endless. Don’t limit yourself to hosting a physical event either. There are countless fundraisers held online. There's even an Adoption Fundraising platform right here on

Social media and internet resources should be utilized no matter what kind of event you decide to do. A great list of adoption fundraising ideas can be found on Walking by the Way.

Step Four: Create a Marketing Plan
7. Step Four: Create a Marketing Plan

Marketing. Is it really that important? The answer is YES. Marketing is a huge business because even if a product is excellent and people love it, they won’t know they love it until they try it. And they won’t try it unless they hear about it. Generally speaking, before someone tries something, they hear about it and/or see it several times. You may not quite be ready to advertise the event, but be thinking about a marketing plan early on because much of your energy will go towards letting people know about your event.

Some marketing tips:

- Create a name or title for your event. When creating your event name, you want something catchy. Don’t stress out too much about it, but try to think of something that will stick in people’s minds. Use your committee, and others, to come up with something creative.

- Consider a logo. It doesn’t have to be all that unique. You simply want something that makes people think of you when they see it.

- Create fliers, contact media, put an ad in the local newspaper. Get the word out.

- Use social media! It would be tragic to ignore the power of social media in your fundraising efforts. If you are holding an event people can attend, create a Facebook event and invite everyone you know. If you are doing an internet fundraising campaign, use Facebook and Twitter to share the good news!

Step Five: Partner Up
9. Step Five: Partner Up

Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Truly, when we work together towards a common goal, we can have greater success than if we try to do it all alone.

If you feel it’s appropriate, you can team up with another family who is trying to raise money for their adoption. Perhaps even a few families. Yes, you will be dividing up money (and you’d have to figure that out), but you each are bringing in more money overall by sharing your contacts.

If you feel uncomfortable partnering up with another family, consider donating to a local charity that serves children in the area. You can work out the details for your specific event, but there is something special that comes from paying it forward. Strangers who may not be intimately connected to you may be more willing to attend if they know they are also helping a community charity. And you can feel even better knowing that as you are helping your own family, you are also helping others in your area.

Step Six: Pick and Secure a Location
10. Step Six: Pick and Secure a Location

Location, location, location. If you are holding a dinner, auction, race, or online event, you will need to determine where the event will be held. If you will be at a physical location, you will need to not only determine where you’d like the event to be held, but you will need to then go through the proper steps to reserve the area. This could include paying certain fees and filing for a permit.

If you will be doing an online fundraising event, you will need to determine which platform best suits your needs. There are a few options out there. You could create your own online fundraising page, or you could use a site that is already set up for fundraising, such as Adoption Fundrasing.

Step Seven: Solicit Services and Donations
11. Step Seven: Solicit Services and Donations

Unless you are doing an online campaign, you will need items for your event: food, drinks, auction items, napkins, prizes, whatever you may need to create your event. Ask for donations or discounts from stores. Come prepared with a letter explaining your event and how the store's help would benefit their name in the community. You may even choose to get a few local businesses to sponsor the event by donating a certain amount of cash. That cash can be used to pay for any expenses that come up for the event, and anything extra goes towards your adoption.

Businesses are more likely to donate if they receive a tax write-off. That means that you’d have to team up with a non-profit 501(c)(3). If you can’t get donations, don’t be discouraged. Talk to friends and family who may have items that can be used.

Step Eight: Create an Online Presence
12. Step Eight: Create an Online Presence

We have already mentioned marketing and the value of an online presence, but it’s important enough to discuss it again. There are different ways to use the internet to your advantage.

Facebook: You can update your status with information about your fundraiser, create an event page, create a unique adoption profile page, and encourage others to share items on their pages to get more views.

Twitter: What can you say and share in 140 characters? A whole lot. If you have a Twitter account, use it for frequent updates as you get closer to the event.

Instagram: Update here as well, using fun photos and images.

Website: There are several free website services. Create a website and refer people to it for more information about the who, what, where, when, and why details of the event.

YouTube: A video could say more than anything typed up ever could.

GoogleAds: Look for opportunities online to advertise for your event. With GoogleAds you are able to set your own budget with how much you’d like to spend. GoogleAds and other advertising methods like it are best for fundraising events that are going to be held on a specific day at a specific time and place.

A study showed that those using their social media networks towards their fundraising goals raised 40% more! When you’re raising money toward something as important as your adoption, it may be worthwhile to get a few people on your committee specifically to update your Facebook event page and whatever other social media site you’d like to use.

Step Nine: Have Your Guests Register!
13. Step Nine: Have Your Guests Register!

What does registering do? It’s an RSVP of sorts. It helps you know your numbers so you will be prepared the day of the event, and it also holds people accountable. They say they want to come, but when they pay for it, they’ve committed. A common method of encouraging people to register is to slowly increase the prices as the event gets closer. Have an “early bird” price. After a month, raise the price $10. Another month later, raise the tickets another $10. Make the at-the-door price of your fundraiser an additional $10. These prices are just suggestions, of course. Be mindful of your target audience and the economy of where you live.

Registering or purchasing tickets helps you plan and be prepared. It also helps get the word out. As your participants buy tickets, they may pass the info along to their friends and ask them to join in on the fun!

Online Platform: Considering An Online Fundraising Platform
14. Online Platform: Considering An Online Fundraising Platform

Does creating an event sound too complicated? Are you overwhelmed just thinking about it? Consider creating an adoption fundraising campaign online. has its own fundraising page that helps families raise money toward their adoption. It takes the guess work, grunt work, and general stress out of fundraising.

Online Platform: Easy Setup
15. Online Platform: Easy Setup

First, visit Adoption Fundraising. You will have the opportunity to upload pictures, write about your family, and set your fundraising goal based on your fundraising needs.

Online Platform: Approved
16. Online Platform: Approved

Unfortunately with adoption, from time to time you hear about scammers. There are some who take advantage of others and lie, cheat, and steal for their own gain. Though other websites do their best to safeguard all those who use their online sites, you can rest assured that carefully reviews, then approves or denies each campaign. Your best interests, and the best interests of those who will be donating their money, is's priority.

Online Platform: Receiving Funds
17. Online Platform: Receiving Funds

If you set up a campaign at Adoption Fundraising and no one donates during the allotted time, no harm done. However, if you do receive donations, your PayPal account will immediately be credited. Just like in other sites, there is a small fee that is taken from the amount before it is placed in your account. When the time has expired after 120 days, your campaign will be removed from the website. For more information about how it works, visit the website.

Online Platform: Use Social Media
18. Online Platform: Use Social Media

Hello Mr. Social Media. As if we haven’t talked about this enough, here he comes again. When creating an online fundraising campaign, use your resources to get the word out. Using as many aspects of social media that you can use will ensure more people hearing about it, sharing it, and donating to help your family bring home your child.

Write a Thank You
19. Write a Thank You

Sincere appreciation goes a long way. Sometimes it’s difficult to thank everyone, but do your very best to thank those who have been involved in your fundraising journey. If you have anonymous donors, just write a generalized “thank you” in a place where people may see it (like on that social media page we keep talking about). If you have names and addresses, take the time to write a short note expressing your gratitude for the time they spent helping you or for the money they donated. If it’s $5 or $250, that’s money that you did not have in your account before someone decided to hand it to you. So make sure to take the time to sincerely thank those who are helping you in your journey.

20. Taxes

Don’t worry. The money you raise from fundraising isn’t taxable, as the IRS considers it a gift. However, if you do this fundraiser year after year, those gifts are now considered income. Consult with an accountant or financial consultant if you have questions.

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Jeanette Green

Jeanette Green is a mother to three beautiful children--two through the blessing of adoption. She is a firm believer that we never walk alone, the sun continues to shine even when we can’t feel its rays, and you can’t get sick from raw cookie dough. Various life experiences have taught her that life never turns out like we expect. But if we’re patient, we learn that it’s better that way. To learn more about Jeanette and her crew, visit The Green Piece

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