The Final Day: Stories

As I write this, Worldbuilders has raised more than $1,200,000. Making this far-and-away our most successful fundraiser ever.

Simply said, it’s been an amazing year. Together we’ve raised enough money to change tens of thousands of lives forever. We are responsible for hundreds of families getting goats and sheep and pigs. We’ve raised enough money for hundreds of wells, thousands of chickens, millions of bees. We are planting forests full of trees. We are helping bring medicine and light and hope and self-reliance to people all over the world.

Because of your generosity and kindness, children will grow up healthy. Parents will go to sleep knowing their children had enough to eat that day. More importantly, those parents will sleep well, because they’ll have tools and resources to control their own lives and make sure their children will have food tomorrow, too.

We could not do this without you.

*     *     *

I have a fondness for stories in the same way that I have a fondness for drinking water and breathing air. Stories are how we learn the shape of the world. And, in certain circumstances, they help us shape the world into what we want it to be.

Given this, it’s not particularly surprising that during the fundraiser we’ve told stories about how Heifer International changes lives. We’ve told you about Fred, Florence, and their children, who lived the majority of their lives as refugees but who now run a successful farm thanks to the gift of a cow. We told you about the city of Bhairav, where yearly floods made it impossible for children to attend school until Heifer International helped the village to establish and maintain its own school.

But there are other stories in our fundraiser. Hundreds of tiny stories of people stepping up and chipping in to make Worldbuilders a success. Stories that have made me proud of you. Stories that, sometimes, have broken my heart a little.

There’s too many to share them all, but today we’re going to bring you a few. I hope you like them.

*     *     *

If you’ve been following us on twitter or facebook this last week, I’m guessing you’ve seen more than a few #BilboItUp pictures brought on by my recent blog.

Like this one from Riley:


“37 degrees with snow from last night. No paychecks while I wait for my new job to start. Scraping by during the month of Christmas. Sounds like a good time to donate!”

Or this one from Kelly:


“Digging a bit deeper so I can donate again.”

A lot of people have cashing in their change jars, like Adrienne:

“I’ve wanted to donate for years, but haven’t been able to.  This year I saved my change all year and have been able to save $20, which I am thrilled to donate to such a worthy cause,  I only wish it were more.”

Or Humberto, who took some things into perspective:

“A worthy cause I am glad to support. I could never solve my own problems with $10. At best I’d get a single lunch at Subway or Taco Bell. The idea that $10 can do so much for someone else has made me reach into my pocket several times. I’ll gladly pack lunch from home to give when I can. Keep up the awesome work.”

Some folks got their families involved, like Christopher and his kids:

“My 5 and 6 year old kids were so excited about donating to Heifer that they were willing to sell us their Halloween candy. The biggest dilemma was pig, goat or sheep. They took so long to decide that Worldbuilders started up and I’ve been waiting for a day like today. [With matching donations.] I’ll get to share with them that because of the generosity of others, their sheep just turned into a sheep and a pig and two goats. Thank you!”

John’s daughter had a similar process, and made sure he sent us pictures.

“I told my 7 year old daughter, Julia, about Worldbuilders, and she’s matching my $1000 contribution with $5 of her own.  She dug into her bank to do this… see attached photo.”


(This is a pretty awesome bank.)

In the comments of my blog, Swiltam explained how she brought her kids in:

“Talked to my kids about it, they each have a small savings account (as a single mom of 5, so you can imagine how small, and at the same time, how big that might be). They’ve each decided to donate, and some of them have decided to forego what gifts they would have received so we can donate more. Thanks for the honesty and inspiration.”

Or Gary and his two little ones, who gave all of their money to help out after he explained it to them.

“I usually give $30 to Worldbuilders during the annual fund raising.  Today Dec. 1st I read the Blog entry Pat wrote about his Mom.  Then Pat wrote about matching and the Heifer matching as well even though he thought he was all done donating this year.  I shared the Blog entry to my 6 year old and my 9 year old and asked them if they wanted to give to the fundraiser from their own money.  They have a savings jar and a spending jar each.  They both wanted to donate and my 6yr old said he would give $20 and my 9yr old said he would give $10.  They are great kids and just amaze me at times like this.  So here is $30 from me and $30 from the boys.  Thank you for giving me this moment with my boys and what you do for all the other kids out there through Worldbuilders.”

Some people are donating Christmas gifts, like Gavin and his family:

“We’re skipping (almost) all Christmas presents this year as a family. We want to make sure 2 girls get the chance to go to school. All of our needs are met, it’s time we help others.”

Or like Lauren and her brother.

“My brother and I are both pretty bad at Christmas presents.  Our wants are either pathetically simple (I would like some warm socks) or wildly unattainable (a $2000 gaming laptop).  But neither of us actually need anything*, and Christmas should be about warm fuzzies and making the world better, not knicknacks that sit on a shelf.  So we’ve decided that the best way to say “I love you” sounds a lot like “I bought someone else a goat”.  So here we are.  Personally I hate goats, after some bad experiences at a camp petting zoo, but I wish this goat many happy years of providing healthy food and maybe some income to its family, on behalf of Dan Bradford and his lovely new wife Lisa.  Merry goatmas, everyone.”

*not quite true, I really do need socks.

We had surprises too. People who went an extra mile, even after they’d already contributed something fabulous.

Authors Bishop O’Connell and Brenda Cooper matched the funds raised from their tuckerization auctions. BeLinda, the winner of the True Dungeon game auction, also matched what she paid for that auction with a donation.

There are some stories, though, that just floored us. Like this #BilboItUp.

Here’s one from the fundraiser page:

“In Hebrew the word for life is the same as the word for the number 18. It has become tradition to give gifts/donations in multiples of 18. It is my hope that my gift of $100 x 18 (life) touches 100 lives.”

$1800 is enough for 12 irrigation pumps.


That doesn’t just install a pump (though that by itself is already pretty great). It gives farmers training in water conservation and irrigation techniques. 12 irrigation pumps help improve the yield of 12 different community farms. Which means those farmers will produce food more efficiently, and that makes it something they can sell for less. Which means the other people in their community can afford more food.

I think it’s safe to say that your donation will effect 100 x 18 people.

Of course, not everyone has 1800 dollars to give. Luckily people like Victoria understand that in Heifer’s hands, $20 bucks can change someone’s life, too.

“As a starving college student, I don’t have a lot of money, free time, or sleep. But I do have a roof over my head, food, and an education. Even though I can’t give a lot, I owe it to those with less than I do to give something. I hope the flock of ducks are cute as well as helpful!”

And Jeremy really hit it on the head:

“I often feel like I don’t have much (renting an apartment, used car, trouble saving for my own house) then I slap myself for being a spoiled idiot and think about people who have to plan ahead to drink water. This charity seems the best to me since it focuses on a sustainable environment. Fruit trees instead of canned peaches and the like.”

Honestly, there are so many of these little stories. If we included half of them, this blog would be ten thousand words long.

Okay. Just one more from Jacob:

“I’ve been farming for five years now, and have been lucky enough to help a small school in Tanzania start a farm so the children at the school can eat a simple lunch. Heifer International consistently renews my faith in humanity with the amazing work you do. Words cannot describe what a gift to the world you people are. Thank you.”

As I’ve said. Today is the final day for the fundraiser. We have until midnight UTC-8 to hit our final goal of $1,225,000, make use of all of the matching offered to us, and hit our final stretch goal.


(Details over here, if you like.)

Okay fine. Just one more. From Ariella:

“My 8yo daughter heard me discussing WorldBuilders at the dinner table, and asked if she could donate. $2 may not be much, but it’s 15% of her savings. I think we’re doing something right with this one :)”

Thank you all so much, everyone. Thanks for caring. Thanks for helping out. And thanks for proving to me yet again that people are inherently good.

Here’s the link to the donation page. Just in case you might find a use for such a thing….


This entry was posted in being awesome, Geeks Doing Good, Worldbuilders 2015. By Pat29 Responses


  1. gabrielthebright
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 9:19 AM | Permalink

    I donated to the Syrian refugee fundraiser and thought to myself, “this is all I want to donate this year.” Even then, I noticed the difference between want and can. I guess I’ve been waiting for something to make me want to donate again. You finally managed it Pat, congrats on growing my heart three sizes or whatnot. I’m getting somebody a goat.

  2. Jeremy
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 9:33 AM | Permalink

    I was finally able to donate this year!!!! I can thank everyone on the Worldbuilders team enough for doing this every year. Even though I haven’t been able to donate I’ve been following this since the beginning and it always renews my spirit. Thank you all for all the hard work!

  3. Knightrous
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

    A heck, it’s payday (thought that was going to be next week), let’s make it right up to the goat this year. Plus it boosts my winning chances by about 5%, nothing like a little bit of self-interest, well, until everyone else does the same and my chances up end nigh on nothing… but hey, that’s not the point, is it?

  4. Posted December 18, 2015 at 10:45 AM | Permalink

    I’m sitting at my desk at work, tearing up a little bit over reading this blog post. Damnit, Pat. You do that to me sometimes!

    I’ve been a longtime reader, and lurker… and participant. I remember the first World Builders, and I remember excitedly telling my Mom about it. I donated as much as I could that year, and I’ve been watching what you’re doing since then- and excitedly telling other people about it, too. Every year I try to donate what I can afford to donate, and sometimes more than I can afford to donate.

    You see, usually I’m a big fan of helping people at home before helping people afar. But Heifer is the exception to that. They actually make a difference for people and their communities; they don’t just talk about it. They don’t swain in and do a photo-op, give a town something they might need but can’t maintain… and then wander off patting their backs and feeling good about themselves as the town’s new shiny toy breaks and they can’t fix it, and the helpful americans are gone.

    Heifer actually trains the local people in town, giving them the tools and the ability to help themselves. And then they just quietly move on to the next place. They have a program that works, and I respect that a lot.

    I donated this year in memory of my Grandfather. My Grandfather was a farmer, a man who loved the land and taught me a lot of what I know. He was a tank commander in WWII, and came back to pick back up on the plow as soon as he was able. At age 94 he was still working at a Living History Farm (where he /was/ the living history), hitching up a team of Belgian Cream drafts and plowing a field or harvesting hay with the tools of his teenage years to show the next generation how things used to be. He passed away a year ago at 98.

    I told him about WorldBuilders all those years ago, and he was impressed in his quietly gruff way. I feel like continuing to donate is one of the best things I can do to honor his memory.

    Thank you for everything you and your whole team are doing. For the gift (and sacrifice) of your time, and for using the power you hold to do good things in the world. It helps maintain my faith in humanity sometimes, when things seem dark.

  5. Infinite_Day
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    Everybody has a story. I kicked in some more toward the fundraiser today. Bilboed It Up. It’s been a hard year for me too. Divorce from a woman I thought loved me as much as I loved her. Moved in with my dad as a result. I’m rebuilding my life and myself. But – I worked at home on the couch today. I’ll go the gym in a bit for a workout and meet family for dinner out after. I won’t have to worry about where I will be getting water from or how I am going to stay warm tonight. Everything is a matter of perspective and, if anything, this past year has allowed me to grow. So, no matter how rough my year was I know somebody out there is trying to survive against odds I can’t even begin to imagine. I’m privileged to be able to be a part of this thing that Pat Rothfuss created. The world needs all the kindness it can get right now.

  6. angledge
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:57 PM | Permalink

    We made it! We made it! We made it! $1,225,430!! Well DONE Worldbuilders!

    • Amanda
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:15 PM | Permalink


    • Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:22 PM | Permalink


      (I couldn’t possibly be the only one who wore out her refresh button…)

      • psj714
        Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:56 PM | Permalink

        I totally was!!

  7. jd-scott
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:09 PM | Permalink

    I wonder if Pat ever feels all powerful having his fan army at the ready.

  8. LizisSparta
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    I’m embarrased to admit I didn’t think we could hit 1,225,000 but we did! This is beyond exciting.

  9. Gemma
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:53 PM | Permalink

    Does this call for celebratory milkshakes, tacos, or ramen with corn? I’m not sure how the Worldbuilders staff would like Ramen with corn.

  10. simply_kote
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

    I’m so proud of everyone! I was worried that we wouldn’t make it; foolish of me. I’m tearing up as I read thsee stories. Worldbuilders is one of my bastions of sanity and faith in humanity, and I’m proud to have contributed what I did this year.

    Keep fighting the good fight, friends. Love you all.

  11. Infinite_Day
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 5:31 PM | Permalink

    It’s the fact that a community of nerd fandom can accomplish something so amazing makes me proud to have been a geek from back when it wasn’t “cool”. It shows me every time that geeks are the greatest people out there. I kept checking but I never doubted the goal would be met. It put a smile on my face every time I looked because the total donations went up every time. Here’s to 1.5 million next year!

  12. masha
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

    I donated for the first time this year. Only $20 (which isn’t even 19 euro) because I’m a college student but these stories make it so clear that even a little bit helps people who need it more than I do. Definitely the best thing I’ve spent money on this year. Hopefully next year I can donate a bit more:)

    • Infinite_Day
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:25 PM | Permalink

      Every single cent means something. Every one. It’s not the amount that matters – it the choice to care that does.

  13. person
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:36 PM | Permalink

    Thanks so much for doing this, Pat.
    These people must be so thankful.

  14. bafwabalinga
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 8:21 PM | Permalink

    I got to donate this year, and a bit more than last because of lucky budgeting decisions. Despite being on a fixed income and disabled single mother, I have a house and my kid is well fed and well loved and taken care of. I know this is a good cause and happy to be able to contribute. I was extremely happy that payday landed on the day that contributions were doubled by both Pat and Heifer.

  15. Travis Centers
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 10:01 PM | Permalink

    Pat, You have donated so much of your existence to better other people’s existence. That and what the rest of the contributors have done is an amazing feat. I wish you a many good night’s sleep knowing you did what you could and much more then expected. Thank you all on behalf of the less fortunate this will affect.

  16. cynrtst
    Posted December 19, 2015 at 12:59 AM | Permalink

    Wayward Backers bilboed up this year! We smashed through last years’ amount ($9,034) and as of this writing we hit $10,621!! We beat the nerds! Wait, we “are” nerds. Or is that geeks? Anyway, we’re number one, we’re number one! (Teams)

    All for a good cause.

  17. Corinne
    Posted December 20, 2015 at 5:40 PM | Permalink

    Is the $1,270,000 from this Fall fundraiser alone? Or is it for all donations Worldbuilders have collected to date?

    • Corinne
      Posted December 20, 2015 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

      Never mind I figured it out. That’s all from this fundraiser, this fall. WOW.

  18. Posted December 24, 2015 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

    Pat, it was my pleasure and honor to be a part of this. Thank you so much! This is the kind of thing that replenishes faith in humanity as a whole.
    Cheers to you, sir.

  19. BrendaCooper
    Posted December 27, 2015 at 12:34 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for the mention! None of us did anything compared to the work you and your crew did (and together we all did something momentus). Thanks so much creating this thing we are all part of.

  20. Karissima
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 8:58 AM | Permalink

    Pat, here’s a great article about another Fallout fan who was disappointed in the amount of violence in the game. He tried to play through without any kills:

    I thought of you.

  21. BreKKoN
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 1:31 PM | Permalink

    Pat, I’ve followed you, and donated, for the last five years… I fully understand you’re busy and everyone wants you to produce n’ all that, but I MISS your stand alone blogs that were simply amusing and entertaining.

    I know those are a lot of work. So, my vote, charge for a stand alone “column” in which you say whatever is on your mind that’s past your basic news. I’ll pay for it and I know countless others will too!

    Your adoring reader,


  22. Fatchuck1
    Posted January 7, 2016 at 9:19 AM | Permalink

    book 3 **cough**cough** or is it still in ransom

  23. fractalia
    Posted March 30, 2016 at 1:17 AM | Permalink

    Hello, Patrick i huh enamored of the history of kvothe and its history until now i ah left with a good learning with regard to some situations by comparing it with the real life. I ah entered the curiosity with respect to the image on the cover of “The Wise Man’s fear”, which is equal to the cover of the book “The pilgrim” the novelist Paulo Coelho; I would like to know that place is and why you have chosen as your home…

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