How to Kick Start Your Adoption Fund

By Cherri Walrod – Founder and Director of © April 2016

I cannot tell you how many families I talk to, email with and read about on social media who long to begin the adoption process but lack the funds to even start.

Almost every grant and adoption loan available requires the family to have a completed home study before they can even apply for this type of assistance.

So where does this leave a family with no funds to start? The answer is generally fundraisers. However, this answer creates even more questions than it answers. Which fundraisers? What type of fundraisers will work for my family? How much time do we have to dedicate to fundraisers? My small community is fundraised out! How can we even do this?

I have to answer these questions all over again since my family is currently in the international adoption process for the fourth time. I am constantly on the lookout for new and amazing fundraisers …especially ones that actually work well! Just a side note: Just in case you were wondering ….fundraising is REALLY hard work!

Let me tell you about a fundraiser which I just recently learned about. It is a CLOTHING AND SHOE DRIVE. My family is actually doing one for this adoption. This kind of fundraiser has the potential to raise most of the funds you will need to get you through the home study process. The best part about the whole thing is that it is totally free! Nothing to buy, nothing to sell! Everyone will be happy about that!

Here are some things that I have learned about a clothing and shoe drive:

  1. First you must do some research for a recycling company which will actually collect the donations you are going to ask for. Some companies will take only clothing or shoes, not both. Be sure you are WITHIN THEIR SERVICE AREA. A big problem I found was this information is not always clearly marked on their websites which was really frustrating.
  2. It is really important that you vet the company to be sure they are legit. Try to get some references and referrals from others who have worked with them. You can also check to see if they have a rating with the Better Business Bureau.
  3. Find out if this company will work with you as an adoptive family or if they can only work with nonprofit organizations. Some companies will only pay the funds to a nonprofit or charity. If this is the case, then you need to find out if your local church or some other group will be your sponsor. If you cannot find anyone to help you with this, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  4. Remember to note any restrictions the company may have on the items collected. Be certain you understand this completely so that you can clearly communicate it to your audience when asking for the donations.
  5. Before you start collecting donations, make sure you have all of the details worked out with this company and have a signed service agreement.
  6. Remember to plan on exactly how and when you will collect the donations. We borrowed an enclosed trailer in order to gather the donations from surrounding communities.
  7. You will need to figure out the storage logistics for this project ahead of time. If you want to raise a lot of money, then you will need TONs of stuff …and I literally do mean TONS. Most of the recycling companies I talked to pay by the pound. A semi trailer truck can hold roughly 30,000 pounds which for us translates to approximately $4,500 towards our adoption costs.

One company, Angel Bins, who is based out of California will do shoe only drives outside of their service area. For a shoe only drive, there are generally more restrictions on what type of shoes and the minimum number of shoes needed before they will come pick up. For Angel Bins, it is a minimum of 10,000 pairs of shoes which is a pay out of approximately $4,500 (depending on how far you are from California). Some adoptive families have earned well over $10,000 from this fundraiser, but that is the exception.

Since we were not sure if we could get the minimum number of shoes in a short time frame, we chose a local company which does both clothing and shoes. It pays less than for shoes only, but it is what we felt like would work best in our community. The stuff that can be used will be used for those who need it. The stuff that cannot be used will be recycled.

Once you have your logistics figured out, it is time to start shouting your message to all your friends and neighbors. It is important to get them involved too. Don’t just ask them for their donations …ask them to ask their friends and friends of friends and so on. This kind of fundraiser works best if you get several bags from A LOT of people.

One other note: It is usually better to wait to ask for cash donations once you are a little further along in the process. If you happen to get a matching grant at some point then that would be a great time to ask for monetary support.

Some people’s trash can help you bring home your treasure!

Remember to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I am happy to help!

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Cherri Walrod is mom to six children and the Founder and Director of 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.

Questions? Don't hesitate to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.