Garage Sales As Adoption Fundraiser


My family may or may not be addicted to garage sales. We may or may not plot a “garage sale route” every Saturday morning on our GPS. We may or may not set the alarm for 6:30 and enthusiastically hit the road by 7:00, coffee and power bars in hand. So you can kind of understand why garage sales were our first stop when we boarded the fundraising train. We began our adoption journey in March 2012 and had our first sale in April. We had four big sales and one mini-sale throughout the summer months and raised close to $10,000 towards bringing our son home from DRC.

How did we do it?

    1. Get the word out: We advertised on every *free* advertising website we could find and spread the word through social media like facebook and our family blog. We made fluorescent signs and put them up at 4:00 in the morning on the day of our sale. We put up between 25-35 signs on our area of town, and on the larger ones, we listed some of the big ticket items for sale. Make sure to write something about your adoption on the sign and include arrows pointing people in the right direction!
    2. Get donations: We asked for donations about 2-3 months in advance. We never passed on a single donation. We made sure that items were *clean* and *gently-used*. If you have specific things you’re looking for, let people know! For one of our sales, I specified that we needed furniture and our friends and neighbors came through. At one point we had a queen-sized bed in our kitchen because our garage was so full we couldn’t fit anything else in! Temporary inconvenience didn’t matter to us – we were focused on a debt-free adoption.
    3. Ask strangers for help: Post a “wanted” ad on Craigslist, and let people know that you are collecting items for your yard sale. We had so many strangers drop items off on our porch because they wanted to help!
    4. Join the neighborhood sale: If your neighborhood has a neighborhood garage sale, have your sale on that day. There will be an extra flow of traffic that will make a huge difference in how much you sell.
    5. Have a donation jar: Set up a donation jar and post information about your adoption. We shared information about our family’s journey and the crisis in Congo. People were interested in being part of something across the world and dropped their extra change in the jar. Those little amounts add up to something big!
    6. Decide how you want to handle pricing: Some people have a “grab and bag” yard sale where shoppers pay a set dollar amount for anything they can fit in a bag. Others price each item individually. Others don’t price at all. It’s all personal preference. We priced our big ticket items (electronics, furniture, artwork, etc.) and then had $1, $2, and $5 tables. Just make sure that items stay organized!
    7. Display clothing: We hung all name-brand clothing on hangers and priced it for a flat price of $3 an item. All other clothing was laid out on a tarp and was $1 per item. Clothing that is clean and organized will sell!
    8. Get their attention: We played African music at our sale to spread the energy. Place big items on the curb and sidewalk so they catch people’s attention. We passed out cards with our family blog address so that they could follow our journey to Elijah and support our other fundraisers.
    9. Have a selling crew: At each of our yard sales, we invited friends and family to come for either the whole time or to take shifts. One person took the money, one person kept re-organizing tables of items, another person walked around welcoming people and sharing about our adoption, and so on.
    10. Have a great location: Find a central location where you will have high interest and tons of shoppers.
    11. Feed them: Sell food, bottles of water, power bars, and other treats. Get food donated from friends who want to help but don’t have household items to contribute.
    12. Pay it forward: When you’re finally finished having garage sales, share your leftovers with another adoptive family instead of taking them to Goodwill. They will be so grateful!


Yesterday, I was pushing Eli’s stroller down the drive way and one of our neighbor boys, Samuel, saw me and came running. “Hey! Can I meet your baby? I just remember all those sales you guys had last year and I kinda want to know who all that was for!” Samuel and I spent the next fifteen minutes chatting about adoption and Elijah and this year’s neighborhood sale. Which I may or may not already have highlighted on the family calendar.


Photo Credit: Eastlake Times


For more information about MLJ Adoptions’ international adoption programs, please click here.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.