I’ve been writing articles on adoption financing for Adoption Today magazine for over a year now. As providence would have it, I have been buried in family concerns for several months. In the space of three months my oldest son went to the US Air Force Academy, my family moved and my oldest daughter left to go overseas for a year. Needless to say I have not had any brain cells or time left to develop new material which would be helpful to you. Then it dawned on me to ask my friend Julie Gumm for some input. Julie knows more about adoption fundraising than I will ever hope to!
I asked Julie to share her Top 5 recommendations to the following questions:
CW: What are the top five ways families can trim their budgets to save for adoption?
Groceries - The US Department of Labor estimates that the average American family of four spends roughly $700 a month on groceries. Plenty of moms manage to feed their families for half that. It comes down to three things: planning, weekly sales, and coupons. Pick up a copy of "Family Feasts for $75 a Week" by Mary Ostyn for some great tips.
Eating Out- The average American household spends $225 a month eating out. Brown bag your lunch and the savings add up quickly. Have some easy quick-fix meals, like frozen pizza, at home to eliminate the last-minute "I can't think what to make for dinner" that drives you to eat out.
Entertainment & Media Services - This means everything from your cell phone bill to satellite TV to your Netflix subscription. I'm not saying it all has to go, but can you decrease your cable package to fewer channels and pocket the difference? If you're not under contract with a cell phone company, shop around. Ditching your satellite package completely could save nearly $2,000 over the course of a two-year adoption.
Gifts - Simplify your gift-giving. If you have multiple siblings with several children each, birthdays and Christmas can put a major hurt on your budget. Get together with your siblings and talk it through. Our solution is to have the adults draw names and then putting a spending limit on kid's gifts.
Transportation - If you want to really put away some money, consider getting rid of the car payment. Several families have sold large SUVs with hefty payments in favor of a much older used car that they either paid for in cash or financed with much smaller payments.
CW: What are the top five fundraisers you recommend?
Garage Sales can have a huge return. I've see them earn as much as $6,000. It's an easy entry fundraiser because you're actually helping your friends by taking their junk off their hands. Plus you can have multiple garage sales over the course of your adoption.
The Both Hands Foundation is part grant, part fundraiser but it's hugely successful for families who commit. Adoptive families recruit friends to help them do a service project at a widow's home to raise funds for their adoption. The average grant returned is $10,000.
PureCharity.com is a site that allows individuals to earn "rewards" for shopping online at thousands of vendors. Those reward dollars can then be donated toward your adoption (as long as your agency is partnered with Pure Charity). Enlist your friends. Their already shopping online. Pure Charity also allows people to give straight cash donations and receive a tax deduction.
Silent auctions can be done as a live event or even online via a blog or Facebook. Most earn between $2,000-$3,000.
A benefit dinner or pancake breakfast is a fun, low-key way to share your adoption story and let people help. It can be anything from a casual BBQ to a black-tie dinner with the potential to raise between $2,000-$10,000.
CW: What are the top five most creative fundraisers you’ve seen?
Karaoke night is everyone's favorite and usually raises around $1,500. (Details are in the book.)
One guy challenged his friends to donate $5,000 and he'd shave his head. They did.
Another family got a local tattoo parlor to help them and raised nearly $2,000.
A freezer stocked with a month worth of meals raised $2,800 for the Mott family.
A youth pastor and his family got their whole church involved in recycling aluminum cans and raised $3,000.
CW: What are your top five fundraising tips?
Redefine "Fundraising" - It doesn't have to mean coming right out and asking for donations if you're opposed to that. There are viable options for every comfort level.
Audience - Consider all your different circles. You have family, work friends, maybe church friends or even an online audience. Different fundraisers will appeal to different groups.
Let Your Friends Help - Don't try to do it all yourself. Get your friends involved in garage sale pricing or flipping pancakes at a breakfast fundraiser. If they have skills, like photography, that could benefit you, see if they'd be willing to donate their services.
Find a Balance - If you're hosting a different sales party every week and posting about it on Facebook nine times a day you'll likely annoy your friends. Mix it up with a combination of events, and online sales.
Do Your Part - If you're fundraising, the hard truth is that your actions will be scrutinized. Let people know what you're doing to contribute to your adoption. (See the first question.)
Cherri Walrod is mom to six children and the Founder and Director of Resources4Adoption.com. Resources4Adoption.com is the #1 educational resource for adoptive families seeking financial assistance. From help in writing compelling grant and loan applications to providing tips for fundraisers, Resources4Adoption offers personalized support for each family.