Worldbuilders FAQ – (And a Critique of Batman)

This is the FAQ for Worldbuilders fundraiser, 2011.

If you want details about how the the fundraiser works, click HERE.

If you want to make a donation, click HERE.

Okay, onward to the questions:

  • “When does the Fundraiser end?”

February 7th at Midnight, Central Standard Time. Make sure to make your donations before then to take advantage of matching funds and to be included in the prize lottery.

  • “I love that you’re doing this. Can I post about this on my blog?”

Nothing would make me happier. The fundraiser depends on everyone spreading the word. Twitter it. Post up a link on Facebook. The more the merrier.

That said, I would prefer if you would link to my blog, rather than trying to copy-and-paste my posts. Our main page gets updated whenever we get new prizes or something changes, so it’s best if people go there to get the newest information.

  • “How can I be a Worldbuilders sponsor/donor?

It’s easy, contact me at Worldbuilders.2011 (squiggly at thinger)

  • “Can I donate to Heifer International using paypal?”

Yup. You can also use Amazon payments and Google. You’ve got all sorts of options.

  • “I don’t have a credit card. If I mail you a check will you enter me in the lottery and match my donation?”


Mail the check to

PO BOX 186
Stevens Point, WI 54481
  • “Can I send you cash?”


Um…. Wait. No. You really shouldn’t. It’s just risky all around.

However, if you don’t have a checking account or a credit card, you could get a money order and send that to me.

  • “If your name goes into the lottery hat multiple times, can you win multiple prizes? The first prize your name is drawn for? The Coolest prize your name is drawn for? How will that work?”

Here’s how it will work.

Say you donate 120 dollars, enough for a goat.

Your name would go into the final drawing 12 times. Then, if we draw your name out of the hat and you win a signed book, your name is still in there 11 times for the rest of the drawing.

That means you could, conceivably, win 12 prizes.

  • “I ordered a book/poster/t-shirt from you. When will I get it?”

Man. I’ve got no idea. We’re getting things out the door as quickly as possible. But the mail is really slow this time of year because of the holidays. My advice is to be patient. Sending me an e-mail isn’t going to make the package move any faster.

  • “What are my odds of winning something if I donate?”

I can’t calculate even rough odds on this year until we have all the donations in.

But last year I think if someone donated $10, they had a 1 in 70 chance of winning something.

That means if they donated enough for a goat ($120) they had a 1 in 8 chance of winning something. Pretty sweet odds, you have to admit.

This year we have way more prizes, so I’m sure the odds will be just as good, if not a little better.

Keep in mind these are rough estimates. And the odds will shimmy around a bit as new books come in and donation totals rise.

  • “My uncle/mom/grampa speaks Polish/Spanish/Estonian…. Can I buy a signed copy of one of your foreign editions directly from you?”

Yup. Other authors have been donating their foreign translations to Worldbuilders, too. So we’re getting a nice selection of foreign editions in the store.

  • “Why are the foreign editions in your store so expensive?”

The prices for most of the books in above the cover price. This is because:

1. The books are usually signed by the author.

2. Some of the books are rare or out of print, or just hard to find in the US.

3. Because all the money is going to charity, so we’re asking you to kick in a little extra to support the good cause.

  • “Is there a facebook page for Worldbuilders?”


  • “I have something I’d like to donate to your lottery option. Where can I send it?”

Before you drop that macrame owl into the mail, why don’t you drop us a line at Worldbuilders.2011 (squiggly at thinger) and tell me what you’re thinking of sending.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate your generosity, and it’s not that I have anything against macrame. Or owls. It’s just that right now we kind of have a tight focus of things we’re giving away as prizes. It’s mostly books with some comics and a little art and music. For now, I think it might be best if we keep that focus.

  • “How come you didn’t invite me to donate a book to your fundraiser? Isn’t my book good enough for you?”

If I know you and I didn’t send you a request, it’s probably because I’ve been insanely busy these last few months.

It’s also entirely possible that I don’t feel I know you well enough to come begging for donations. I know this is hard to believe, but I am kinda bashful about that sort of thing.

The other possibility is that I lost your e-mail, or that I’m a disorganized idiot.

But if you’ve got a book or an ARC you think would fit in into the mix, I’d love to include it. Send it to:

P.O BOX 186
Stevens Point, WI 54481

Three things:

1. If you’re the author, we’d love if you signed the books before sending them to us.

2. If you’re thinking of sending a collectible of some kind, please contact us first.

3. Please package the books carefully. It breaks my heart when books arrive damaged.

  • I’d like to do an interview with you so I can write a story about Worldbuilders for my local paper/magazine/whatever.

If you’re a journalist, blogger, webcomic-er, a celeb with a huge twitter following, or just someone who has a cool idea about how to spread the word, drop us a line at the aforementioned e-mail: worldbuilders.2011 [squiggly at-sign thinger]

Pretty much if you have any questions about the fundraiser, that’s the e-mail to use. You’ll get a response much more quickly than if you use the contact form on my website.

  • “Can I do some fundraising of my own, then donate it and have you match it?”

By all means. Have a bakesale. Search the couch cushions. Rally your book club or church group. Show people at work the website then pass the hat.

You can also start your own fundraiser page that’s linked to Worldbuilders if you go to the Team Heifer page I set up and click “Join The Team” instead of “Give to This Team.” That’s the only way I can track donations.

  • “I can buy chicks on your page, but not baby ducks!”

Yeah. They don’t offer all the different options on the donor pages. The cost of a flock of ducks is the same as for the chicks: $20.

  • “How much of my donation to Heifer goes to actually helping people?”

This is a fair question. A lot of so-called charities are actually just scams that collect money.

Others have good intentions, but the majority of the money they raise goes running their organization. Some very high profile charities spend as much as 60-70% of the money they raise on administrative costs, while only a small sliver goes toward actually helping people. I could name names here, but I’m not going to. If you’re really curious, you can google up the information yourself.

Please believe me when I say I’ve done my research. Heifer is an award-winning charity for a reason. They’ve been doing good works for over 60 years.

Heifer keeps all its financial records available to the public, and 75% of everything it collects go directly toward helping people.

Here’s a nice visual breakdown from Heifer’s site.

You can see here that less than seven percent of their money goes toward administration. That’s exceptional.

Everyone has their favorite charity. There are a lot of good causes out there, and people have very personal attachments to them. Emotions run high in these areas.

When I first started doing worldbuilders I got a flurry of e-mails. Someone asked me about animal shelters, another about diabetes. A third person posted a comment on the blog, arguing that people living in the US shouldn’t give money to charities that support causes outside the US. I erased the post because it was harshing my groove, then I felt guilty about it because the person was relatively polite in making their point, though I still think they were wrong as wrong can be.

But here’s what I’m getting at. I think it’s important not to go all Bruce Wayne in these situations.

Follow along with me on this. Bruce Wayne’s folks were killed by criminals, so he grows up and becomes Batman in order to fight crime. Because he hates crime. Because crime killed his parents with crime.

Now I like Batman as much as the next guy. Good stories. Batarangs. Men in tights. He’s probably my favorite superhero.

But the fact is, his whole Batman deal is pretty self-indulgent.

Think about it. Dude is a multi-billionaire. If he wanted to make the world a better place, he could create a foundation 100 times bigger than Heifer International. He could build shelters for battered women, schools in low-income neighborhoods. Sustainable agriculture. Renewable energy.

What does he do with his money? He builds super-gadgets so he can fight crime. Drives a rocket car.

Yes I know that Bruce Wayne is also a philanthropist. Don’t quibble. He does a tiny bit of charity and a whole big shitload of being Batman.

Why? Well… because it wouldn’t be much of a comic if he didn’t. Fair enough.

But the other answer is this: he fights crime because it makes him feel good. Not because it does good. There’s a difference.

Cancer got my mom not too long ago, and it took a good hard swing at my dad, too. That means that I should be raising money for cancer research, because I hate cancer, right?

Well…. no. Do I hate cancer? Of course. But if I just focused on fighting cancer for the rest of my life, I’d kind of be doing it for selfish reasons. I’d be doing it to make myself feel good. Instead, I’d rather focus on making people’s lives better. I’d like to focus on doing good, then let the feeling good be the side effect.

That’s why I’m focusing on Heifer. I can do the most good there. If I raised 200,000 dollars for cancer research, it would help pay for a piece of lab equipment. It could fund a lab’s research for a couple weeks, or maybe only a couple of days.

The sad fact is, 200,000 dollars isn’t very much when it comes to fighting cancer.

But 200,000 dollars is a huge shitload of money when it comes to buying animals. We raise that much money, and hundreds of people’s lives get drastically better right away. Kids get to drink milk right away. Families get to sell wool and eggs right away.

We don’t need to research how to cure hungry kids. We know how. We have the technology. It’s called food. We just need to do it.

Heifer helps people all over the world, not just here in the US. Why? Because people all over the world have it really shitty and they need help. To say that some people deserve my help more just because they’re from the same country…. Nah. That’s not my game. I’m playing for team human, not team USA.

Does that make sense? Wait…. What was the question again?

Oh. Yeah. Will I match donations somewhere else instead of Heifer? Respectfully, I’ll pass. I’m not saying you should stop loving your charity. But I’ve put some thought into this, and I’m going to stick with Heifer for now.

  • “I have a question you didn’t answer here….”

Drop me an e-mail at Worldbuilders.2011 [squigly atsign thinger] we’ll answer them as soon as I’m able…

To go back to the main Worldbuilders page, click HERE.

This entry was posted in Heifer International, Worldbuilders 2010By Pat25 Responses


  1. Jammarian
    Posted November 13, 2010 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

    I preordered Wise Man’s Fear at Borders

    ♪ ♪

  2. TangentialMind
    Posted November 13, 2010 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

    4 entries for the golden ticket (hopefully)!

  3. Aeolus
    Posted November 13, 2010 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    Technically, Pat, we don’t know how to cure hungry kids, so much as treat their symptoms temporarily.

    But we take your point. :p

    • Posted November 13, 2010 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

      Obviously you haven’t checked out Heifer’s page. They don’t treat the symptoms, they provide a lasting solution.

  4. Mickey
    Posted November 13, 2010 at 8:03 PM | Permalink

    A very good argument Pat, but it should be noted that all those kids we help today will still want to be Batman when they grow up !

    Jokes aside, you are a good man to give so much time and energy to a cause and also make it so easy for your fans to be a part of it too. Poverty is the shackle holding back so much raw potential in Africa alone. Free people from worrying every day where their next meal is coming from and often they astound you with the things they can achieve.

    Rock on Master Rothfuss

  5. tigeranne
    Posted November 13, 2010 at 8:57 PM | Permalink

    I really don’t want to be leaving a negative or disagreeable comment, so please don’t take this that way. I love what Worldbuilders does and I think Heifer International is a great organization. I participated last year and am absolutely going to be donating again this year, but I felt like the explanation for why you want to give to Heifer International and not other people’s charities was just a little off. I get what you are saying with batman-your arguments regarding him are pretty convincing. However, I don’t know that donating to a cause that has personally affected you necessarily means that you are self indulgent or doing it to make yourself feel good more so than if you were to donate to any other charity. Many people might donate to cancer research, for instance, because their firsthand experience made them realize what cancer patients actually experience and how worthy of a cause it is. It is true that you may not see as much of a pay off from donating to cancer research as to Heifer International in terms of the $200,000 put in and the quantifiable change to the world that comes out, but in a way that is what makes donating to cancer research a harder thing to do and donating to Heifer International something that makes you feel more good. The quantifiable change and the feeling good is of course a great thing, but that does not have to make donating to other charities with perhaps less tangible outcomes or a cause with a more personal attachment to you a less great thing. I don’t know if I said that very well, but I don’t want to get too long winded here. I guess all I am saying is that every dollar can make a difference and the concept of donating to any charity is usually to make peoples lives better, cancer research included. It seems like it should be enough just to say that you like Heifer International and you think it is a worthy cause that you think deserves to be focused on right now and that in order to do that and to do the most good that you can for these specific people (not to mention to keep from this years fund-raising from becoming too unorganized and chaotic) you are only going to be donating to Heifer International. Then again, perhaps it would have been a little harder to work in the theories on bat man, which I am sure deserve some thought as well. Anyway, if anyone actually reads this and it comes off as argumentative, I seriously don’t want it to. I am a big fan of this blog, this author and this cause, like I said. I am not even bothered by what Patrick wrote, as I know he doesn’t mean it any offensive way. –Just wanted to put my two cents in as I can see it being important to some people…. and because I have some time to kill right now.

  6. Oatmeal
    Posted November 14, 2010 at 6:36 AM | Permalink

    You know what Pat? I’ve read this FAQ several times. Because I’m a little OCD, and whenever it came up as I was reading the archive, I would read it again.
    I’ve just done so one more time, and it’s amazing. I think I love, admire, and respect you more every time. You’re doing a good thing here.
    Thanks for helping feed many many hungry kids and families. Thanks for showing us how to help too. And thanks for letting the good feeling be the side effect rather than the motivator. That takes uncommon strength.
    May karma work and your life be charmed.

    • Mossy Toes
      Posted November 14, 2010 at 8:31 PM | Permalink

      Same situation here, and you’ve put it rather more eloquently than I think I’d be able to.

      Again, thanks Pat.

  7. Kendall
    Posted November 14, 2010 at 9:36 PM | Permalink

    The thing I’m confused about–not answered here–is that you list your stuff in an earlier post under the lottery, not the auction or store, and link to your post about your stuff…which says it’s in the store. Which is it? Or is it in the lottery unless someone buys it from the store, in which case it’s gone? (I don’t think that’s it, but???) Thanks–and apologies if I’m just misreading, but it seems like contradictory info.

  8. Posted November 15, 2010 at 12:09 AM | Permalink

    I’m glad you feel that way about donating to charities outside the US. When people told me we shouldn’t have donated so much to Haiti, I just told them I didn’t understand the difference between a Haitian and an American. Maybe they know something I don’t. But if that’s the case, apparently you don’t know it either and my ignorance is in good company. :-)

  9. almostalawyer
    Posted November 15, 2010 at 3:31 AM | Permalink

    You’re obviously an honest guy who is trying to do good. This is your chosen charity and you have every right to be proud of the work they do. Afterall, who can argue with a charity that gives 3/4 of all money collected directly to those in need? I do, however, have an issue with some of what you said. I lost my dad to cancer just over a year ago. I donate my time and resources to charities looking for a cure for cancer. I do it not to make myself feel good, but because this bastard of a disease made my father suffer and I don’t want that to happen to anyone else. People donate to charities for very personal reasons.

    Also, I can understand that you’re playing for “team human” rather than “team USA”, but there is an old saying that charity begins at home. It always irks me just a little bit when people who have achieved success because of capitalism and the freedoms for which it offers don’t give it enough credit. Micheal Moore screams about how bad Capitalism is, yet is getting wealthy off this very thing. I applaud your efforts with Heifer, but there is poverty here at home as well. Just drive through Appalachia or any inner city and you’ll see what I mean.

    Anyway, I’ll be donating to Worldbuilders this year, just like I did last year. You’re a good man Mr Rothfuss; keep up the good work.

    • Posted November 15, 2010 at 8:37 AM | Permalink

      almostalawyer: I have to wonder what the purpose of your comment is.

      There doesn’t seem to be any sort of argument there. (Though there’s some weird, logically questionable stuff masquerading as an argument – which is scary if your username is to be believed.)

      It seems to me like you’re trying to say you agree with Rothfuss, while at the same time doing a weird, messy, illogical job of trying to prove his points are wrong.

      That’s why I’m puzzled. If you agree with him, why throw in all the weirdness about Moore? And Capitalism? What does that have to do with anything?

      As for your first point. What you say about your father actually seems to ring really true about what Rothfuss was talking about. You’re moved to fight cancer for personal reasons. What he’s saying (I think) is that sometimes, in order to do the most good in the world, we need to put personal reasons aside.

      Pratchett said it best, in my opinion: “Personal isn’t the same as important.”

      • Oatmeal
        Posted November 15, 2010 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

        Gentle Ben. I agree with everything you say here…

        I would hasten to add that while some might have a problem with the “international” aspect of Heifer International, the charity DOES do work in North America.

        So, yes, charity does start at home. But that doesn’t mean that home is the ONLY place it can be applied.

      • almostalawyer
        Posted November 16, 2010 at 7:45 AM | Permalink

        I don’t think there is anything weird, messy or illogical about the point I was trying to make. I was simply stating that Mr Rothfuss stated that he is on “team human”, not “team usa” and something about that bothered me. He’s achieved success because of the freedoms we’re afforded living in this country and I think we should all be grateful for these rights. I’m not saying Rothfuss isn’t grateful, but what he said just struck me the wrong way. Now that I know this charity does help people in the USA also, I feel better about that.

        I do appreciate your attempt at critiquing my argument though. I must say, if you couldn’t get the crux of what I was saying, it somewhat scares me that your reading comprehension skills aren’t up to par. Anyway, this isn’t the proper forum to get into a silly debate. Let’s keep the focus on this wonderful charity.

  10. kethdurazh
    Posted November 16, 2010 at 7:52 AM | Permalink

    I read through the FAQ a few times, but the closest it comes to addressing my question is this bullet that says, “I can buy chicks on your page, but not baby ducks!”.

    When I went to donate, I didn’t get the option to buy anything. I’m not sure what a donor page is, but whether I selected the “Join This Team” option or the “Give To This Team” option, it just took me to a page where I entered a cash amount.

    I went ahead and donated the amount I was planning to spend, but I was so looking forward to purchasing a water buffalo! Please, anyone with knowledge of how to choose the animals you’re donating through Pat’s team, explain it to those of us (me) who miss the obvious. Hopefully, when I donate again with my next paycheck, I’ll be able to make sure someone gets a goat or something! Thanks for any help.

    • Kendall
      Posted November 16, 2010 at 11:44 PM | Permalink

      kethdurazh: You should read Heifer International’s FAQ.

      Interesting–the first time I donated (pre-Worldbuilders), their FAQ explained that you don’t really buy animal X, but they use the money to buy what’s needed. Now they’ve changed it, I guess, so they have different animal-based funds…yet they still (of course!) use money where needed (so if the llama fund runs dry, they dip into the baby chick fund). And some money goes to training and administration, though it’s not mentioned in that FAQ. Really, money’s fungible–having individual funds is kinda meaningless since they have to buy what people need, not what donors think is cute. ;-)

      I was bummed the first time I donated, before Pat started Worldbuilders, to see that the goat or whatever I got my dad wasn’t really a goat–it was just money. But that only makes sense–they have to use the money as needed.

    • Kendall
      Posted November 16, 2010 at 11:46 PM | Permalink

      P.S. I am surprised the team page doesn’t let you pick animals, though. Maybe Pat’s FAQ is from last year and Heifer International changed how team pages worked since then…???

  11. Feasoron
    Posted November 16, 2010 at 1:46 PM | Permalink

    Pat, I don’t know if you’re still looking at the comments for this, but the new Shortpacked (which I also don’t know if you read) addresses the selfish batman theory and made me immediately think of you.

  12. Posted December 14, 2010 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

    Regarding PayPal.

    It states above that a PayPal checkout is impossible, but when I click the “Give to this Team” button, I get 5 options of payment, one of which is a “Check Out With PayPal” button. Is this a viable option now? Thanks for your time!

    (To be safe, I paid with credit card, but still, I was slightly confused.)

  13. kt
    Posted December 15, 2010 at 1:24 AM | Permalink

    I would like to use Paypal too, as my credit card goes for an adress I’m not using right now. I’ll explain myself, the credit card is under my family home adress and I’m currently studying overseas.

    Can someone please reply to me before December 17th??

  14. Posted December 6, 2011 at 8:50 AM | Permalink

    So the shipping costs if I wanted to buy something are pretty high as I’m living in Europe (Not your fault, I know). I’m just wondering what would happen if I donated some money and actually won something – who’s going to pay for the shipping costs then? And what if I won some book I already have or I’m not interested in, would it still get shipped at high costs regardless? Or would I be notified first?

    • Tungil
      Posted December 22, 2011 at 4:16 PM | Permalink

      Just found your post, same to me, would be glad about an answer or hint^^

  15. jabberlockee
    Posted December 18, 2011 at 7:34 PM | Permalink

    I read the FAQ and saw nothing about gifting a donation. Is there anything that Wordbuilders could send. I’m not looking for anything extravagant because I don’t want any money to be taken away from the donation, but I was just wondering.
    That being said I’m a huge fan of yours and an avid follower of the blog. Having been on a medical mission trip when I was younger I really like the work that Heifer does. When I left Nicaragua (the site of the mission trip) I felt that the work I had done was going to be short termed, a 2 month impact on the people we had seen at the most. I really appreciate the fact that Heifer looks for long term solutions. In essence, something better than a band-aid.

  16. Tungil
    Posted December 21, 2011 at 5:32 PM | Permalink

    Another selfish question: i might be blind, but I did not find any information about the the lottery handles the shipping costs ( if possible ) for residents outside the US?
    If I donate 10$ and have not only the luck to actually help people, but win a book (or something) in the lottery, the shipping cost would be aroud 25$ if I’m correct. So can I just take part in the lottery as anybody else, or did I miss a point?
    Thanks for the help! ;)

  17. chat
    Posted February 26, 2012 at 3:35 AM | Permalink

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