Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Fund Raising Philosophy

I write on my blog for a lot of reasons.  Sometimes I write to keep people updated on our lives.  Sometimes I write to advocate for others kids and families.  Sometimes I write letters to my little girl.  Sometimes I write to help out other families who are in process or who may be.  Sometimes I write because there is something rattling around in my head that I want to get out.  This is one of those rattling times.

I realize that just by writing this I will probably offend some people.  That is not my intent.  My intent is just to get these ideas out of my head and on "paper."  These are just my opinions.  That's all.  I didn't think about my philosophy on fund raising before I started the adoption.  It's probably something people should think about when they are researching and making decisions.  

Let's just start by saying that I did fund raise for my adoption.  I paid for about a third of the adoption on my own.  (I used my savings and worked summer school to earn extra money.)  I received grants for about a third of the cost.  I fund raised the other third.

There are people that fall on all points of the fund raising spectrum.  One of my first blog comments was from someone who informed me that I should have saved the $30,000 that I needed before I started the process. After all, they said, people save for cars and houses, why not adoptions.  (I know no one that paid cash for their house.)  It seems that there are also people that fall on the other end of the spectrum.  There are people that fund raise every single expense of the adoption.  (I've seen people fund raise for the cost of postage to mail documents.)  I fall somewhere in the middle.  I had some money in savings and I used that for upfront costs and incidentals.

Fund raising is a verb.  It implies action.  I worked my butt off fund raising and paying for the adoption.   I worked summer school in order to have an influx of cash when I needed it.  (I realize that isn't always an option for people but I think everyone who is fund raising should consider how they can earn extra money.)  I baby sat.  I even dog sat.  (I hate animals.)  I knit and sold items until I didn't like knitting any more.  I planned fund raisers.  I'm sure I alienated some facebook friends in the process but I was actively fund raising.

Never once did I say, "I need x amount to make my next payment.  If ten people give X amount, I can pay for the next step."  That's just not how I think things should go.  (That doesn't mean that I never got donations outside of my fundraisers.  I did.  I just never asked for them.)  I feel like people should get something for their donation.  I held auctions, sold t-shirts, sold coffee, made items to sell.  The only fund raiser that I held that didn't have a direct return for each donation was the give away.  (In all honesty, I wouldn't do another one.)  I just like the idea that people get something for their gift.

I also think part of fundraising is applying for grants.  Yes--They are a lot of work.  No--You won't qualify for every one that is out there.  Yes--It's more paper chasing.  No--You won't get every grant you apply for.  BUT, there are TONS of grants out there.  There are legitimate organizations that want to GIVE you money.  How can you turn down the opportunity for free money?  Someone else has already done all the fund raising.  All you have to do is ask!

I don't have all the answers.  I know that.  I was blessed with incredible support.  My process was never in jeopardy because I lacked funds to continue.  I just needed to get out what has been in my head.  That was my only goal and motivation.  If it made someone start thinking about their own philosophy, great.  If not, fine.

(On a side note, I will financially support families that are actively fund raising.  I just can't bring myself to donate to people who aren't doing anything to help themselves get closer to their goal.)