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I love to create, be a mom, a wife, a teacher, and a Jesus follower. These are just some of the musings about who I am!

Friday, May 09, 2014

Adopt Without Debt: What We've Done

When we started this whole adoption adventure, I mentioned (in this blog post) that we hoped to do it debt free.  Many people ask me a lot of things about adoption and one of the most asked questions is about the cost.  Let me just say up front, I don't mind talking about money matters with people.  We desire to do this whole thing totally transparently (I talk about this more here), and because so many of you have come alongside us in this, we want you to trust what we are doing with the donations.  That being said, I want to emphasize that our whole purpose in this is to give a forever home to a child in need.  This is not about money--even if I feel like my life is being run by fundraisers and talk of money--it is about the life of a child!

 Before I dive into the purpose of this post, I just want to say thank you.  So many family, friends, and strangers have dug deep and been beyond generous to us.  It has been a very humbling and life-giving experience to receive so much.  Saying thank you feels but a mere scratch on the surface of the gratitude we feel.

So, now to the point.  2 countries, 5 fundraisers, and 18 months into the adoption adventure, we find ourselves waiting for that "you've been picked" email, praying for twins (are we nuts?!?), and continuing to trust God to provide for the financial gap.  Even though we haven't raised the entire cost of the adoption process yet, we've done a lot.  I'm not writing this to share how much money we have, but rather with hopes that other families going through this may find the help they need with bridging the financial gap.

Here's what we've done:

1.  I made a painting.  When I read Julie Gumm's book it was the idea that most resonated with me.  I actually wanted to create a painting that would serve as an artistic reminder to us that God is faithful, people are generous, and our baby is home.  

How it works:  I bought a canvas (mine is 22" x 28") and divided it up into little pieces.  I drew little arrowhead shaped pieces...you could do triangles, squares, whatever you like.  Then I let people know how it works.  They pay $20 for a piece, I paint it (I chose a selection of 7 colours people can pick from), then I add their name to a list on the back of the canvas.  

We started with 486 pieces and have less than 50 left!  If you do the math, by the time the painting is complete, we will have raised $9,720!!  It has been incredible to watch the painting fill up.

(this shot is from January, it is even more full now!)
2.  I opened an Etsy shop.  This was WAY out of my comfort zone because I don't really consider myself crafty or creative (say nothing, please), but I figured I'd give it a go.  It has been opened over a year now and I have made around $1,000 this way.  It hasn't been incredibly lucrative, but it has been fun to sell my wares and I'm thankful for every penny!  

How it works:  I just went to Etsy.com and followed the instructions!  There have been a few bumps along the way (like figuring out how much to charge for postage--don't get me started on the rising price of mailing things in Canada), but there have also been a lot of helps.  I've done a few things that have helped boost my traffic: posted all new products on my Facebook page and Pinterest; joined an Etsy group for adoption fundraisers; and bought an ad on Facebook (this tripled my traffic!).

3.  Craft faires are another great place to raise money with my crafts.  I have done 3, to date.  The Christmas craft faire has been the most successful, but I am really looking forward to being a part of Nelson's Market-Fest this summer!  I have a few girlfriends come and help me set up the night before, then I just hang out while people browse (and hopefully buy).  I also need to give a big shout out to my mom here...she has helped create some wonderful things for me to sell!  Thanks mom!

How it works:  Ask around in your community, check local adverts, or ask on Facebook--there are bound to be local craft faires in your area, particularly around the holidays.  There is usually a table fee--it is around $30 a day here.  I have made just over $2,000 combined from the 3 faires. 

Side note:  I am also thankful to a local store, Birch-n-Burlap, for selling some of my crafts.  This has been a really fun way to sell things (it is an amazing store) and I have raised nearly $700 since December.

4.  Garage Sales may not be anyone's favourite springtime activity to set-up, but they sure are fun to attend, especially when they support something like adoption.  

How it works:  For two years running (and I'm honestly hoping not a third) we have had a garage sale at a friend's house.  We live in the country, up a hill.  Not exactly a great place to have a sale.  So, some crazy very generous friends of ours, who happen to live in a prime location for garage sale traffic, have allowed us to take over their home (did I mention that we've done this twice??  These are quality people I'm talking about here).  We post ads in the paper, online, and hang flyers around town.  I make sure that all the adverts say exactly what we're doing--raising money for our adoption.  I also painted some really large signs to put on main thoroughfares...be sure to make the lettering large enough to read (think 6 inches or taller) and in a stand out colour (I chose dark red).

 (this photo was from last year's sale, before the Congo closed...I don't want to confuse anyone!)

Now, you may be thinking, "if these people have enough junk to raise money at a garage sale two years in a row, why don't they just stop buying things and save?!?"  Maybe that's just what I would be thinking.  Let me explain something:  it wasn't all my junk!  The first sale was a combo of our stuff (we had just moved) and donations from others.  This year it was almost entirely donations from friends/neighbours.  People are always donating things to thrift stores, especially after the holidays or during spring cleaning, so be sure to let them know you're a willing recipient of their donations.  Then, be prepared to have your house (and a good friend's house) be taken over by stuff.  Can I just say, this is the easiest way to sell things?!?  It is so easy to price because it has absolutely no value to me...no memory of original cost, no sentimentality, just a desire to sell!  

I also want to share my pricing method with you, because I think it is really simple and effective.  I buy a package of coloured dots, assign a value to each colour, then make entire tables of that value.  For example, each item with a yellow sticker costs a dollar, and one whole table is covered ONLY in items that have yellow dots.  It makes pricing so easy!  I usually have 5 tables:  .50, 1.00, 2.00 (we have a tooney coin in Canada, so this value makes sense for us), 5.00, and 10.00.  Anything that I thing is worth more is priced as marked and all my legends (signs hanging around telling people about my method) let them know!  It is super easy, FAST, and effective.  

Okay, one last thing to say about garage sales.  The whole goal is to make money, but also to get rid of as much as possible, right?  So, how do I handle this?  I price everything LOW.  When people try to haggle, I gently remind them what the point of the garage sale is (adoption costs, remember?), then if I sense they aren't willing to budge, I just give it to them.  All the left over items, the dreaded unsellables (Webster, look out, I'm making up new words here), I donate to another garage sale that happens the following weekend (smart, eh?!?).  No muss, no fuss.  We have raised nearly $3,000 from our two garage sales.

5.    Tupperware.  Ok, so not exactly, but this is the most recognizable company that does those little at-home parties.  You know what I mean...

I have a friend who sells Epicure.  It is really yummy spices, teas, and a whole range of cookware.  Well, she donated one month of sales to our cause!
How it works I helped pitch the product to neighbours and friends (because who doesn't need a cookie sheet or some yummy tea to drink?) and she donated her profit for the month!  

6.  Fundrazr.  This site has been helpful because it is a safe place for people to give.  My brother actually set up the site for us way back when we first started this process.  We spread the word, then people logged on and donated.  Pretty simple. 

How it works:  Just go to fundrazr.com and follow the instructions they give.  They take a small percentage of the funds donated (that is how they maintain the site) and the money is put into your paypal account. 

*Side note...all of the funds donated through Fundrazr bought a space on the painting.  You don't have to double up this way, but it allows people both near and far to participate!
6.  What else?  Well...unfortunately, the money totalled above isn't enough to cover the overall amount of the fund.  Yucky, eh?  So, we've got a few things in the hopper (3 that I can specifically think of):
1.  A beer/burger night at a local haunt.  They do fundraising suppers like this often and I hope to partner with them in July for a fun, summer way to raise a little money.
2.  Summer outdoor movies.  In August I hope to have a series of movie nights in our yard...attendance is free (per copyright law), but donations accepted and refreshments sold!  This will be a family friendly and super fun way to raise a little money.
2.  A professional magic show in October.  I am so excited to partner with John Kaplan on October 18, 2014 for an all ages, real-deal magic show! 

Ok, I know this has been a super wordy post with a ton of information.  Jason and I are so thankful for all that we have both raised and been given thus far, and are ultimately trusting God to provide!  We are proactively working towards the goal and simultaneously seeing miraculous provision!  Hopefully this post has given you an idea of what we've done, what we're going to do, and maybe an idea that you can take away and do yourself!

Any ideas you have seen and/or done that you'd like to share?

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