garage-sale One of the things I love the most about the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group is the spirit of helpfulness. People ask all sorts of questions and almost always, a group chimes in with answers and suggestions. Such was the case a couple of weeks ago when Erika posted a list of adoption fundraising ideas. Like a snowball on a downward trajectory, her list kept growing. I suggested that I post it as a blog to benefit more people, and between the time she first sent it and my posting, she kept adding more ideas. At one point she wrote, “I’m on FIRE!” And indeed she was.

Fundraising is not for everyone. Some people would rather set up a strict family budget or take on an extra job. Some feel comfortable borrowing the money. But if you’ve ever thought of fundraising, you’ve got to check out these creative and fun ideas from Erika:


Initially, the cost can make interested couples turn and walk away from adoption.  I say, where there is a will and a hope, there is a way, and where God is, there is hope!  It may be less overwhelming and encouraging to think in terms of making little nibbles off of the big amount needed to fully fund an adoption.  Recently, my husband and I raised money (with the help of our church family) for another adoptive family.  The family is adopting a toddler from Africa who is HIV positive.  They still had roughly $10K to raise.  At first, I shuddered at the amount! Then, I thought, “If they could find 100 people to donate $100. They would be set!” When you think of it that way, it’s not that scary sounding is it?

I began to look online and think about all the ways people could raise $100.  Many of these ways could easily and quickly raise $100 and more!  You will notice that many of the things on this list would be great family/group projects.  Many hands make a load light!  It is also very fun to do good deeds in a group.  You don’t even have to start a new group, think of groups already formed, (youth groups, small groups in a church setting, groups of friends who exercise together, work together, mother’s groups, neighborhood groups, and clubs like book clubs and gardening clubs). Remember these are not all groups you are part of, anyone of your friends and family members have groups too!

One parting tip, fund raising can be exhausting and it may be helpful to think in terms of seasonal themes (a garage sale in the spring, bake sale in the fall, etc.) You will see a few ideas on this list that are ideal for certain seasons. That way you have four major pushes a year and time to recover and or plan for the next push. Without further ado here are the ideas I came up with:

  1. Ask 10 friends to donate $10.
  2. Ask 5 friends to donate $20.
  3. Host a yard sale.  I’ve had several as adoption fundraisers.  We made far more than $100 each time.  Make sure you have it in a high traffic area and make lots of BIG signs directing people to you.  Hang a banner to tell people what the money is for.  Have enough helpers that you can greet EVERYONE with a smile and greeting.  I cannot express how important that is.
  4. Conduct a bake sale. Location is everything for this one! (You may be able to ask a local and centrally located business to sit in front of. Otherwise find out if you can have it after church or at an event.) Ask family and friends if they will help bake items for the sale. Artfully wrap your goodies and consider labeling what the item is and what the ingredients are.
  5. Rent the equipment and sell Kettle Korn. (No one – and I do mean no one can resist Kettle Korn!!!)
  6. Sell fruit shish kabob (fruit on a stick) or chocolate covered strawberries at an event.
  7. Have your family babysit or organize your church small group or youth group set up babysitting services for a large church event.
  8. Sell candy. (Use a company or go it alone.)
    • Hershey’s fundraising candy
    • Or buy several boxes of assorted candy bars at Costco or Sam’s Club and start selling (Example: The box cost $14 and contained 36 candy bars that sell for $1 each. Each box therefore generates a $22 profit.)
  9. Wash windows in your neighborhood.
  10. Wash car windows in the parking lot after church.
  11. Rake leaves, trim bushes, water plants, weed gardens.
  12. Sell lemonade.  (My 11 year old raised $275 in one day selling lemonade at a Fourth of July parade for $1 a cup!!) You can set up a table somewhere or do what we did, put the lemonade in a giant keg type cooler and use a wagon to pull it through the crowd.
  13. Clean a neighbor’s garage.
  14. Do face painting at events (carnivals, festivals, etc.).
  15. Get pizza donated and sell it by the slice.
  16. Sell bracelets or glow necklaces at an event.
  17. Make and sell jewelry for Valentine’s or Mother’s Day.
  18. Create and sell holiday cards. (Since many people send pre-printed cards these days, how about creating different templates and combining this idea with #76.)
  19. This is a free downloadable digital-scrapbooking software that has greeting card templates. (I have never used this company but, it seems to get good reviews.)
  20. Host a silent auction. (I held one and had a talented pair play music and I raised several thousand dollars.) I think a raffle would be less work however.
  21. Use a viral fundraising site such as Crowdrise, FirstGiving, or and invite friends/family to donate.
  22. Set up a birthday or holiday wish list using Facebook Causes.
  23. Send a letter to family and friends explaining why you want to adopt and a bit about your child, if you have that info and ask for their support. Always ask for more than you expect. Include a “response needed by” date. (This is one of the first things my husband and I did!)
  24. Set up a challenge at a regular meeting you attend (chapter meeting, bible study, club meetings, civic meetings, etc.). Challenge gifts can be quite small. Tell people you’ll donate $1 for every $5 they give (or $5 for every $20). Set a time limit at the meeting: “We now have the Baby Smith challenge. For the next five minutes, Sally will give $1 for every $5 that is donated to the Smith’s adoption.
  25. Cash in your change. According to, the average U.S. household has nearly $90.00 of spare change just sitting around.
  26. Sell your old gold and silver (broken jewelry, single earrings, etc.).(I did this one too!)
  27. Sell the stuff you never use on eBay or Craigslist.
  28. Host a Karaoke Night – pay to sing your favorite song, pay not to have to sing, or pay to make someone else sing.
  29. At your next church retreat or club meeting, hold a bad taste clothing day (Ugly Christmas sweater, bad bridesmaid dress) — pay to participate or not participate.
  30. Are you a great cook? Host a cooking class.
  31. Host a chili cook-off. (Have additional categories for cornbread and desserts).
  32. Host your favorite “thon” (rock-a-thon, bowl-a-thon, bounce-a-thon, jump rope-a-thon, teeter-totter-a-thon, swing-a-thon, dance-a-thon) — get hourly sponsors.
  33. Host a spaghetti dinner; charge an admission price. Dessert can be extra! (Can also be done as a pancake breakfast, tamale feed, barbeque ribs, etc.)
  34. Get three friends to help you host a progressive dinner. Start at one person’s home for hors d’oeuvres, progress to the next person’s home for soup or salad, go to the next home for the main course and have dessert at the last home. Either charge by course or for the whole package.
  35. Sell flowers for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day and deliver them for extra tips.
  36. Turn a personal goal into a fundraiser (i.e. pounds lost, days without chocolate, miles run, miles ridden on a bicycle, miles walked, etc.)
  37. Encourage tribute gifts; ask friends to donate in honor/memory of someone special. (This can be especially sweet if people donate in the honor of someone who was adopted or adopted).
  38. Conduct a car wash.
  39. Organize a raffle. Every state has their own laws regarding raffles.  It is legal in California!  A word on raffles: there are different types of raffles.  I will list three, each with increasing complexity and required effort.
    • The first type is where you sell tickets and the winning ticket gets a percentage of the money earned on the sales and your adoption fund gets the other half.  I say “half”, but you can split it 70/30, 90/10 or whatever.
    • The second type requires that you sell tickets over a period of time, contact the winners, and arrange for winners to pick up their prizes.
    • The last way is to host a party where you sell raffle tickets at the door and announce the winners at the event with much fanfare! (The last way may take the most work, but you could make even more money selling concessions!)  Regardless of how you decide to announce winners, you first need items to raffle off. Next, have small groups and families in you church or group donate services* or an item or gift basket for a raffle; the more enticing the items, the more buzz and response you will get.  Items like cars, vacations, gift certificates, services, as well as baskets full of goodies would be fantastic!*Services can include childcare for a whole weekend or for any weekend night two weekends in a row; pet sitting, one day of housecleaning; yard work; car washing/detailing, cooking a meal, house painting (interior or exterior), etc.
  40. Organize and hold a Hoedown.
  41. Hold product sales (cookies, candles, earthquake kits and or first aid kits, etc.).
  42. Have a quarter run. Organize teams of people to collect quarters.
  43. Have a plant sale.
  44. Teach a seminar on a topic you know: knitting, organic gardening, organizing, gourmet cooking, baking, dog grooming, etc. Charge a fee to attend and learn.
  45. If you know how, trim rose bushes in your neighborhood.
  46. Hold a “Guess the Baby” photo competition; participants pay a fee to make a guess or vote for the cutest baby.
  47. Host a house party. Do not charge admission. Invite as many people as you can. During the party, give a short talk about your adoption cause and ask everyone to consider a gift of $10, $20 or more (depending on the crowd). Either distribute envelopes and ask people to give then, or after the party contact everyone who came and ask for a larger gift. Indicate that you have given and, if appropriate, how much you have given.
  48. Make and sell pies. (Especially good around holidays)
  49. Sell homemade cinnamon rolls after church or at a weekend morning event.  (If there is an IKEA near you, they are pretty cheap in bulk).
  50. Sell interesting and creative flavored cupcakes at an event.
  51. Offer to clean houses.
  52. Set aside ten-dollar bills each week until you have $100.
  53. Manage a coat check room at an event.
  54. Host a “Best Legs” competition; get men you know to model their legs wearing women’s high heel shoes.
  55. Host a “Make Your Own Sundae” event.
  56. Hold a 3-on-3 basketball tournament – Charge a team of 3-4 players $40 for entrance and ask local businesses for prize donations. If you provide t-shirts for the event, you could raise the entrance fee. (Also try kickball, dodge ball, softball, Frisbee golf, etc.).
  57. Skip-a-Latte — Ask friends to save the money they would normally spend on coffee for a month and donate it (could also be soda, bagel, etc.)
  58. Hold a Mud Volleyball Tournament. (Sell concessions)
  59. Hold a Powder Puff football game. (Sell concessions)
  60. Set up a recurring gift or electronic funds transfer for $8.33 per month.
  61. Set up an obstacle course for people to pay to go through; make it challenging like on Survivor or a cheesy version of Tough Mudder.
  62. Hold a World’s Largest _______ record breaking event; charge an entrance fee to participate.
  63. Set up a dunk tank; find “celebrities” to sit in the tank (dads in your group, boss, pastor, Sunday School teacher -the more stoic the better, kids, etc.)
  64. Hold an old-fashioned cakewalk. Sell tickets to participate plus ask everyone to bring a cake/pie/cupcakes to present as prizes. The game is played like musical chairs.
  65. Hold a Guitar Hero or Rock Band competition with prizes for highest score. Participants must pay an entrance fee.
  66. Host a miniature golf tournament. Present a “Masters” green jacket to the winner. Get hole sponsorships from friends or local businesses.
  67. Instead of a full golf tournament, set up golf events on a golf course practice area. Provide prizes for longest drive on the driving range, shortest drive, longest chip shot, longest putt on the putting green, etc.
  68. Hold a Punt, Pass and Kick tournament.
  69. Host a Tug-of-War tournament.
  70. Hold a Lunch Box Social where eligible singles create tempting picnics in a basket and other eligible singles bid for a chance to sit with the donor and eat together.
  71. Hold a masquerade party and invite guests to attend and bring a pre-determined gift amount.
  72. Hold a Christmas in July party and charge an admission. (Complete with Christmas tree decorating contests and a Santa Claus in Full beard but wearing a Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, straw hat and sandals!) Your guests can wear summer clothes, but provide Santa hats for them. Go caroling and take tips bucket with you!
  73. Mani-Pedi Night — Invite girlfriends over for manicures and pedicures; ask them to donate what they ?normally would have spent at a spa.
  74. Make and sell official t-shirts.  You can get them printed locally or mail order.  Shop around for the best reviews and prices. Here is one company to try:
  75. Silpada/Pampered Chef/Tupperware, etc. parties – Host a party; ask the coordinator to donate a percentage of the sales from the event to your adoption cause.
    • (This just in!!! A friend of mine who adopted a little girl from China several years ago just joined a company called Noonday Collection. It was started by a family who adopted a child from Uganda and its goal is to create sustainable income opportunities for the Ugandan people. My friend can explain to you have to fund raise through it. If you are interested, contact her here:
  76. Host an outdoor movie night. Do not charge for admission, but ask for donations and sell concessions.
  77. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day photography. If you have a photographer friend (novice but, GOOD) and you have a location where you can set up some props, all you need to do is advertise.  Charge for the digital file and email after you have edited the photos. There is lots of easy and free editing soft ware.
  78. Hold a mustache or beard growing contest.

There you have it, my ideas for fundraising!

Good luck and please let me know if I can help (you can connect with her at the Creating a Family Facebook Support Group) or pray for you!

Erika Spence
Adoptive momma


What ways have you raised the money needed for an adoption? Have you tried any of these? Let’s add 23 more ideas so we’ll have an even 100, and we’ll permanently add this list to our Affording Adoption page.