According to the US Department of Health and Services, there are over 400,000 children in foster care. The median age of these children is 7. That is a mind-blowing number. If you are working or living with foster children, it can be stressful and even heartbreaking at times.
It can also be expensive. The costs included in raising children mean paying for education, food, clothes, extracurricular activities, and more. With foster children, there is a good chance you are paying for extra healthcare costs like therapy and medication.
There are ways to raise money for foster homes or families that can help during rough times. We have listed 12 simple fundraisers you can hold yourself without breaking the bank.
Did you know, most foster kids come into foster care with nothing but a garbage bag filled with their things? When children are taken from their homes, it is usually happening under extreme circumstances when packing is the last thing on anyone’s mind. Children will arrive at their foster homes with a garbage bag filled with a few pieces of clothing and little else. Foster care homes and families will have to take care of the rest, and that cost can add up for the nonprofits and families that care for these children.
A ‘Tag the Bag’ fundraiser is a unique way to make people aware of the problem and raise funds to help. Find a backpack or suitcase that represents the average age of kids your organization benefits. Then ask people to donate. In exchange, you tag their name on the bag with messages of support and care.
This is a visual representation of the gift donors are giving to children and can be placed on display for all new children who enter your doors to see. At the same time, you’re providing public recognition to all your donors for the fundraiser.
What you are actually raising funds for can be up to you, but many organizations will supply new foster children with a bag of their own, including:
Pro tip: New foster families can ask friends and families to sign the child’s actual bag and either donate supplies or money to help with the costs. That makes your fundraiser specific and transparent. Donors would be happier to make donations toward items listed for the kid’s wellbeing.
Back to school time can be very exciting for children, but kids in foster care may find entering a new school challenging, especially when they are trying to get comfortable with a new home and family at the same time. Foster organizations can bring a little joy and excitement to this time with a back-to-school fundraiser that provides foster children with everything they’ll need during the school year.
Organizations like Foster a Future, Too hold fundraisers that raise funds to supply foster children with:
You can raise money at an actual event or online. You can also send a list to parents in your community, asking them to buy two of something when they shop for their own children. The opportunities for this type of event are endless.
In this case, a donation wall is not a donor wall where you list the names of your supporters. Instead, this fundraiser involves a wall of envelopes with a donation amount and an explanation of where the money will go to help children in your facility.
If your nonprofit does not have a suitable wall, you can place these envelopes in a Christmas tree around the holidays or find another unique way to display them and make it easy for people to grab.
Your nonprofit must have a steady influx of people that come through your doors to make this fundraiser work. If not, you can also add this option to your online donation page and allow donors to designate their donations. You will want to share this fundraiser on social media and potentially make it a game to increase involvement.
Forster Pantry’s online donation form is a great example of how donation designations can be used to direct funds to specific areas within the organization. It works as a virtual donation wall that is completely free of cost, also low on effort. If you look at the form, it’s recurring, has suggested donation amounts, and a name to support each level.
When people think of foster care, they may only think of babies or younger school-age children. In reality, more than 23,000 children age out of the system every year. These are teenagers who never found a home and have no one to go to for help or advice when they need it. Entering your twenties is hard enough with a support system. Without it, they can end up facing depression, crime, and may even end in death.
Foster organizations are trying to find ways to set these young adults up for success in any way they can. One way your organization can do that is with a cooking or food event or classes. Foodies in your community can enjoy an excellent meal and help fund an important cause at the same time.
Pro tip: You need to make this fundraiser interesting enough. Ask a local chef celebrity or even a school’s home economics class to be present during the event or teach the class. Once you have the chef, you can advertise online, at your location, or using traditional media and sell tickets. To save costs, look for sponsors to cover the cost of ingredients and kitchen rental if necessary.
While you are holding the event or after your weekly cooking class, you can also ask attendees to donate a little more to support the current children aging out of your organization.
Your organization can follow nonprofits like Fostering Success Foundation who are using donations for a ‘New Beginnings Box’ filled with:
This box will supply all the items young adults need to start their own homes. You can even invite the children aging out to the cooking class to join in the festivities and ask donors to sponsor their education.
May day has historically been celebrated on May 1st or the first Monday in May in countries worldwide. Countries like England, France, Germany, and Ireland celebrate it to mark the first day of summer and the upcoming season.
Your organization can use this holiday as an opportunity to celebrate national foster care month, the end of school, and the upcoming summer season all at once. By holding a small or large fair at your facility, you can reach out to your community and share with them how their funds will help foster children in the area.
This event can include a traditional Maypole for children to dance around and other fair games that Americans are more familiar with. Your nonprofit can also take the opportunity to introduce the foster children to families in the neighborhood and potentially help build lasting relationships.
Sell tickets to attend your May Day Fair or to play the games. You can also sell t-shirts or other products with your nonprofit’s logo and mission. Do not forget to ask for additional donations with a fundraising jug or tent where people can also get more information about your nonprofit.
Another way to raise funds for foster organizations is by holding an online campaign. Peer-to-peer or crowdfunding campaigns are proving to be a success for nonprofits of all sizes. If your donors are younger, an online campaign may be just what your organization needs.
Create a crowdfunding campaign online in just minutes and share it through emails and on all your social media accounts. Share new pictures and stories daily or weekly throughout your campaign. You can even use a hashtag like #fostercare to get more attention.
Be sure to keep your donors updated on how the campaign is doing and send personalized emails to those supporters who share your campaign with their community. These people are your boots on the ground during an online campaign, so you will want to keep them as informed and excited as possible.
Pro tip: While creating a crowdfunding campaign, be specific about your goal. Ask yourself questions such as what it is you need the funds for, when do you need it, is there a specific age group of kids you need it for, how much funds you actually need, etc. Highlight your fundraising goal with a goal thermometer to create a sense of urgency among donors.
Do you want to let more people in your community know about your nonprofit? One of the easiest ways to get people into your facility is with a ‘Parents Night Out’ event. Parents of young children jump at the opportunity to drop off their kids and get a free night to themselves.
If your organization has a facility that can house a large group of children or partner with a local health club or gym, this can be the perfect fundraising idea. It is also a chance to share your organization with neighbors who may not know you are located in their area.
Parents can be some of your greatest supporters. Although they may not all become foster parents, they will be interested in the kids your organization supports because they will likely be in the same school as theirs. Introduce these parents to your organization and let them know how they can help.
You can either charge parents or offer the evening free but ask for donations. Free parents night out events will obviously do better and should be used as a relationship-building event rather than solely for fundraising.
Pro tip: When you’re keeping the event free of cost, arrange for some add-ons to the night like popcorn, beverages, raffle, games, etc. to raise some funds in addition to the donations. It will also keep the parents engaged and make the experience memorable for them.
A ‘Dads Only’ event is another way to connect with parents in your area. Hold an event only for men and dads. This event can be a poker tournament, bowl-a-thon, golf outing, or anything you can think of. The point is to make the dads feel special and give them a chance to get out of the house.
Sell tickets to the event and offer a day or night of fun and food. While the men are enjoying their escape, you can tell your organization’s story and the stories of some of the foster children at your organization. Ask for donations to care for these childrens’ well-being and education.
You can’t have a dads’ day and forget about the moms! Once again, you can use your creativity to think of the right event to bring out moms in your area. Offer a pampering spa day or wine evening with friends. It can also be a refreshing brunch at a local restaurant. Anything to give moms the chance to escape the crazy day-to-day of raising children.
You can partner with local businesses – salons, restaurants, stores, etc. – to make it happen. They can dedicate a specific percentage of their profit of the day to your cause. In return, the moms would know and appreciate their kind efforts. It’s a win-win!
You can also sell tickets to your event. Remember to ask the moms to donate to individual children in your facility. Make the event as personal as possible so you can touch the donors’ hearts.
Hold a foster walk in your neighborhood to raise awareness about the need for fostering and the plight of foster children. Take your kids along and ask some foster families to attend the event. Once the walk is over, introduce your attendees to the kids and families. Let them see for themselves what it is like to be in need of support for the basic needs of one’s life.
Market your event well in advance to make sure everyone knows about the upcoming event and many are willing to take part. It’s a good idea to keep the event free of cost but you can ask local businesses to sponsor your event. That way they get visibility and people appreciate their kind gesture. In the end, you can ask for donations from the people who participated.
A foster walk is a great way to spread the word about your nonprofit, the cause, and the need for funds. This way you can also gain some volunteers and recurring donors.
Pro tip: Arrange for t-shirts with your foster home’s logo printed on them. You can get a local printing company to sponsor them. In exchange, have their name on your t-shirt, too. Or use Bonfire to design customized t-shirts and order in bulk. You can either sell them at discounted prices on the day of the walk or distribute them for free among the participants to wear. This helps your nonprofit with marketing. Passers-by would know which cause people are walking for and may be interested in knowing more about your foster care.
Once again, you can use your facility to good use and get to know your neighbors while raising funds for your program. All you need is a blank white wall outside or a place to hang a white sheet or set up a screen, a projector, and a DVD player. Charge less than $10 a ticket and invite everyone to enjoy the show.
Theatres and drive-ins know movie tickets aren’t where you make the money. Be sure to sell t-shirts and other products to raise more funds.
While the kids enjoy the movie, you can make it fun for the adults with a reverse raffle. Unlike regular raffle events, a reverse raffle calls off the losers first and the one with the ticket number that wasn’t called is the winner. If you plan to hold outdoor movie nights throughout the summer, a reverse raffle can bring in large amounts of cash if marketed correctly.
Pro tip: Foster families can make this a pot-luck event with their neighbors and help their new foster child get to know the kids in their neighborhood. Along with raising some funds, it’ll be highly beneficial for the kid who is yet to adapt to their new neighborhood.
Approximately 30,000 babies are in foster care. These children often deal with the after-effects of drug use or abuse and need help to get the healthcare they need. Babies in foster care are given to families often right out of the hospital, so the chances of getting a child without any supplies of their own are high in these cases.
Foster homes and families need help raising funds for clothes, bedding, toys, and any medical needs that can help the child.
Baby bottles can be a lifesaver in more ways than one. A Baby bottle fundraiser is an easy option for the organization and the donors. Just give donors an empty baby bottle to collect change in any way they can. Ask that donors return the bottles on a specific day and celebrate the end of the campaign online or in person at another event.
People like this type of event because they can do it on their own time. There is no cost to the supporter, just what they want to give. Once again, this fundraiser can be done by a foster home or a foster family. Just provide them with a baby bottle and ask them to raise money for your family.
One more way this fundraiser can be effective for a foster home is a lot of other people and families get to know about you when they’re asked to donate by your supporters.
Foster care homes and families need all the help they can get. Families in your community may not know that you are located near them, so an event that introduces your organization like a parents’ night out can be a great way to start building a relationship with potential donors.
At each of the events we listed, you should take the time to explain the scope of the problem in your community and introduce people to the children in appropriate ways when possible. Fundraising events can be held online or can be a large production if you are up to it. Whatever event you choose to have, be sure to keep the children and your mission at the top of people’s minds.
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