10 High Impact Adoption Fundraising Ideas

March 15, 2021

There’s all sorts of ways to finance your adoption, but our personal favorite is… You guessed it, fundraising! There’s so much to unpack about why fundraising works and all the amazing benefits it can provide that we wrote a separate article about it (check it out here.)

As you’ve likely discovered by now, there’s hundreds of different ideas for adoption fundraisers scattered across the internet. In this article, we’re going to focus on 10 adoption fundraising ideas that have the biggest impact for everyone involved.

What exactly makes a fundraiser “high impact”? In order to make this list, we looked for examples of fundraisers that checked each of the boxes below. A high impact fundraiser should…

  1. Raise a significant portion of the funds needed to cover adoption costs
  2. Be relatively low cost (or free) for the adoptive family to host
  3. Gather a community around the family’s adoption journey
  4. Bring joy to everyone who participates!

Now what could be better than that?! Alright, let’s dive in.


1. Both Hands Fundraiser

There are hundreds of ways to do an adoption fundraiser, but only one that lets you serve a widow in the process. A Both Hands project is about offering adoptive families the chance to serve someone else as a way to raise funds for their adoption. Through this process, the adoptive family gathers a community around them to fundraise, as well as dedicates a day to serving a local widow or widower in need of home repairs.

And to top it off, the average Both Hands project raises $15,000!* Click here to learn more about how it all works. 

*Average amount of funds raised of all Both Hands projects completed in 2020.


2. Waffle or Pancake Breakfast

This is a great twist on the event-based fundraiser that doesn’t break the bank! Break out your home griddle, a large pot of coffee and some basic toppings for pancakes and waffles. Invite your friends and family over and “take their order” of pancake or waffle, and add whatever toppings they want. Offer tickets to the event at a suggested price… You don’t want to put a limit on someone’s generosity!

One family tried this fundraiser and ended up selling over 100 tickets! They got a few more friends involved and moved the event to their church’s fellowship hall in order to accommodate everyone. By the end of the event they raised over $4,400 for their adoption!


3. Craft-Making

So many of you have talents or hobbies that you could use to fundraise for your adoption! We’ve seen lots of amazing craftwork from families utilizing their skills, such as making cupcakes, jewelry, homemade jams, candles, and even Christmas decor. Speaking of Christmas decor, it’s a good idea to tailor your craft-making to a holiday if you can.

One adoptive mom made signs out of scrap wood and painted Scripture verses or other quotes after she re-finished the wooden pieces. She auctioned off her signs on social media and her own website to raise funds for her adoption, and ended up raising nearly $10,000 for her adoption costs!


4. Selling T-Shirts

*Photo property of Bonfire.com

Selling custom made t-shirts has gained a lot of popularity over the past few years thanks to companies like Bonfire, who offer adoptive families the opportunity to sell t-shirts on their platform for free. All you do is design a shirt, put it up on their website, and then share the link across social media to generate interest!

Plus, this fundraiser can go hand-in-hand with any other group fundraiser you might be planning. You may be able to offer discounts to folks who will be attending one of your other fundraising events, or you could add free t-shirts to a raffle event!


5. Photography

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to do this fundraiser, (though you do need to know one!) Ask a local photographer if they’d offer a special session price where either a portion or all of the proceeds will go towards your adoption costs. Another adoptive mom utilized her own photography skills for this fundraiser, and asked a local print shop to donate free prints of the photos to keep costs low. She raised $2,000 for her adoption and in the process, dozens of other families got to be a part of her adoption story.


6. 5k Run or Walk

Hosting a 5k event can be a lot of work, but it’s a great fundraiser to get your community involved and for bringing in folks that may not know your story! One adoptive couple raised over $5,000 through selling tickets to their 5k run. Over 100 folks ran, and another 200+ came to enjoy the event, which included cotton candy, bounce houses, face painting, and more. To cut down on event costs, they asked local businesses to sponsor the event.


7. Puzzle Fundraiser

The puzzle fundraiser has become a staple of adoption fundraisers for good reason: It’s easy to spread on social media, and it offers your community a chance to be literally written into your adoption story. Here’s how it works: Create a puzzle with your own image (there’s plenty of companies like Snapfish that will do this), and then “sell” individual pieces to complete the image. You can set them at a fixed price, or ascending price by number of pieces, (for example: If you choose to do a 200 piece puzzle, one piece costs $1, another piece costs $2, another costs $3, and so on up to $200).

You can dedicate the back of each puzzle piece to the buyer, so by the end of your fundraiser, you have a work of art that was “made” by the folks who supported your adoption journey. Elizabeth raised over $10,000 for her adoption through her puzzle fundraiser! To generate interest, she also used the pieces as raffle tickets for five different $25 gift cards to be picked at random.


8. Painted Canvas

This is an artful twist on the puzzle fundraiser that functions in the same way, (and you don’t need to be a painter to make it work!) You can buy a stencil for canvas on shops like Etsy to guide your painting, and then divide your canvas into 1 inch squares that you sell to be painted in. Some folks forego the stencil altogether, and opt to simply paint in squares of different colors picked by the donor, resulting in an abstract pop art piece for your home!

One family opted for the pop art style, and raised about $11,000 for their adoption costs! Since both the puzzle and canvas fundraisers are driven by social media, it’s important to consider your social media presence and community involvement when choosing fundraisers such as these.

9. Frozen Meal Raffle

We love the frozen meal raffle because not only is it effective, but it’s a great way to get your church community involved in a truly unique way. First, you get a small chest freezer, (see if you can get it donated!) then ask for volunteers to cook and donate frozen meals, such as casseroles or lasagna. Sell raffle tickets for a fixed price to win the chest freezer and a month’s worth of frozen meals (or however many you have).

Pro-tip: Have your volunteer chefs wait to make their meals until after the freezer is sold. That will make it much easier to transport everything to the raffle winner.


10. BBQ

The classic BBQ dinner has all the joys and benefits of a communal dinner or “gala” at a fraction of the cost! Like the frozen meal raffle, this is a great one to get your church community involved. Sell seats to the BBQ dinner and get volunteers to help you prepare for the big day. Ask if your pastor or someone notable in your community would be willing to speak at the dinner, so you’re not the only ones on the stage all evening!

One adoptive mom was able to get the entire meal donated, and raised about $5,000 for her adoption costs!


As you know, adoption can be very expensive. But through fundraising, you get to invite your community to join in overcoming these financial obstacles together. At Both Hands, this process has created some truly powerful moments, like these. Check out our website to hear from more families and to learn how it all works!

Note: Many of the personal stories and dollar amounts cited in this article come from Julie Gumm’s fantastic book “You Can Adopt Without Debt”. In her book, Julie outlines the adoption process, gathering and presenting experiences and wisdom from all over the adoption world. We highly recommend this book to any adoptive parents or families considering adoption! You can buy “You Can Adopt Without Debt” at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.*

*These are not affiliate links. Both Hands does not directly profit from purchases made through the links provided. We just love Julie’s work and want everyone considering adoption to have it!

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