Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Heifer Fundraiser: A Few Questions Answered.

Today has been a great day.

Today I woke up feeling refreshed. The tight knot in my back that's been bothering me for almost a year was almost non-existent. I found myself singing in the shower, something that I used to do a lot, but haven't lately.

It's no great mystery what's making me feel this way. It's the fact that in less than 24 hours, we've raised more than 2000 dollars for a great charity. More that 4,000 after I match everyone's donations. Success beyond my wildest expectations.

This is so much fun.

Click Here to Donate

Hmmmm.... I wish that little thermometer said, "We've raised."

Anyway, because we've had such a strong start, I waned to answer a few questions people have been asking.

  • "Will you stop matching donations when you hit 5,000 dollars?"
No. I'll match all the donations that are made.

Earlier today, when I told Sarah how well things were going, she looked at me a little nervously and asked, "Are you going to be okay with it if people donate 10,000 and you have to match it?"

"I expect I will whistle a jaunty tune," I said happily.

"What if they raise 20,000?" She pressed.

"Then I will probably perform a tiny, happy dance while I whistle," I explained.

Don't misunderstand me here. I'm not all Scrooge McDuck rich over here. But I can't think of any better way to go broke than this.

Truth is, when I was setting up the page on Heifer, I set the goal at 5000 because I had no idea if y'all would be interested. I didn't want to set it really high, because then if I only got a few donations, I'd feel like a sad loser.

But because this actually seems to be going somewhere, here's what I'm going to do.

I'm going to raise the goal on the donations page to 10,000. If we hit that, I'll be all tingly.

I'm also going to add more prizes to the pool, so that everyone still has a good chance of getting something cool. That way, you can tell help me recruit more people without feeling like you're ruining your chances to win stuff.

I'll post up more details about the new prizes in a couple days.

  • Can I do some fundraising of my own, then donate it and have you match it?
By all means. Have a bakesale. Search under the couch cushions at your friends' houses. Show people at work the website then pass the hat. I'm matching donations from any and all who want to chip in.

But make sure you get it in by Dec 11th. And make sure you donate through THE PAGE I SET UP. 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, then use a very small amount of it for the intended purpose.

But trust me that 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.

  • "I live in [foreign country]. Can I still send you a check and buy a book?"
Yes. I stopped by the post office and bank today and peppered them with questions. So here's how it will work.

It costs me $20 dollars to ship a book internationally. Every additional book in the same package adds $10 to the cost of shipping.

So here's what you do:

1) Add the extra shipping to the prices I've already given.

2) Add three bucks to cover the fee that the bank is going to charge me.

3) Convert it into your local currency. (euros, pounds, rupees, whatever)

4) Write me a check using your local currency. (This is important. Don't write me a check in dollars if that isn't what they use where you live.)

5) Mail it off to me with the other information I've asked for written on a notecard.

Easy as pie.

  • "I love that you're willing to donate to charity. Would you match my donation to [insert name of charity here] instead?"
Everyone has their favorite charity. As I said in my first post on the subject, I know there are a lot of good causes out there, and people have very personal attachments to them. Emotions run high in these areas.

Someone contacted me asking 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 very polite in making their point.

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 his parents were killed by crime.

Now I like Batman as much as the next guy. Good stories. Batarangs. Men in tights. He's probably my favorite superhero, or close to it. 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. But the other answer is, 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. 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. They help 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.

Lastly, for anyone who's interested. I'm going to be doing a workshop (4:00) and a reading/signing (7:00) at a library in Lanesboro, MN tomorrow (Wednesday the 12th). I'm excited because I hear this place is about fifteen miles away from Lake Wobegone.

Want more details? Check out the my tour schedule page.

Later all,


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Anonymous Danielle said...

I'm coming to this kind of late, as I just checked your blog now. But I just wanted to say that I think it's a great thing!

Also, I haven't been in Lanesboro in a few years, but I think they still have an amazing German place to eat. Delicious!

November 11, 2008 10:16 PM  
Blogger Ted said...

Congratulations, World, and keep up the donating everyone (I know I havn't donated anything but I would if I had a credit card or paypal account =/)

Pat--do you accept cash mailed to you? :P

November 12, 2008 12:42 AM  
Blogger logankstewart said...

Pat, I definitely want to see you on the top of the Top Fundraisers list.

Go Team Human!!!

November 12, 2008 12:52 AM  
Blogger Captain Joe said...


November 12, 2008 2:38 AM  
Blogger susan said...

Hey Pat,
I love the idea of a fundrasing. Especially in this time. We spend so much on Christmas (and here in Holland Sinterklaas) that it is a little efford to donate a bit. Everybody has there own charity that would fit but the great thing about Heifer is that it really makes a difference even if you donate just a little amount. Great idea!!!

November 12, 2008 3:24 AM  
Anonymous Maarten said...

Hahaha! We have Sinterklaas and Christmas! December is a expensive holy month here in the lowlands!
But Pat, uhm, Am I just going to write you a blank check if I want to buy things? And do I send that to your PO box? Because I understand the whole thing with the prices and stuff. Just didn't get that last part.
Oh! And keep up the good work! In Holland we have Oxfam Novib, who I donate. Heifer and Oxfam seem to have the same ideals.

November 12, 2008 4:22 AM  
Blogger rebecca said...

Brilliant idea and great prizes. I'll be donating as soon as I get paid next :)

November 12, 2008 4:31 AM  
Blogger marky said...

Pat. You are an inspiration. Last night my girl and I decided to do away with Christmas presents this year. We’ll still give each other cards and hugs, but the money we were going to spend will go to Heifer. I wouldn’t do this if I had kids. They deserve the best Christmas possible. It’s just that we are adults now and Christmas, although still special, won’t be any less special if we have to do away with gifts. In fact, we are not doing away with gifts; if anything we are embracing the true spirit of Christmas. That is a gift in itself.

I sent you an email yesterday saying I would like to buy a galley proof. I’ve changed my mind. I would like to just send you the check and have my name thrown in with everybody else for the prize draw. I think that’s fairer on everybody who has already donated through your team page.

Marky, who’s right there with Joe in a warm and fuzzy place.

November 12, 2008 4:46 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

This is really exciting, and as soon as I get out of work tonight and know how much money I have (which probably still won't be much) I'm donating as much as I can.

I suppose we have no say in which prize we win though, huh? Cause I've got my eye on a couple of specific prizes...

November 12, 2008 11:29 AM  
Blogger Shawn C. Speakman said...

Gave you props on Suvudu about this opportunity for all to feel good! Hope it helps bring in a few more donations!

November 12, 2008 1:17 PM  
Anonymous pdxtrent said...

Pat, you rock!

Word verification for today....... aticessi. It is the proper title for a brilliant writer who practices unexthnocentric humanitarianism. For example, Pat Rothfuss.

November 12, 2008 4:37 PM  
Anonymous munin_and_hugin said...

I'm going to go all geek on here, so I apologize in advance. (And I know this doesn't really have anything to do with the point of the blog, but it's what caught my attention in this post.)

Bruce Wayne gets to be called a philanthropist in the comics because Wayne Enterprises, in his name, gives tons of money to charity. Not a tiny bit. Within the story line he just continues his fathers work in that area. Since W.E. is doing such work in his name and he doesn't have to worry about it he can go and focus on his pet obsession, running around being Batman.

Now, to the important stuff, this is a really cool idea. I worry a lot about charities and other human/eco friendly works turning out to be something other than the face they put on. Having you suggest one, that I can go look up and check out through other organizations, is great. Takes out most of the worrying for me. So, thanks :)

November 12, 2008 10:56 PM  
Blogger Captain Joe said...

$4000 for Team Human!

In two freakin' days. This I approve.

November 13, 2008 2:14 AM  
Blogger Sailor Matt said...

@munin_and_hugin: Although you make a valid point, it doesn't address Batman's self-indulgent behavior. By reacting out of hate, hate has consumed him. I would venture that Batman hates the bad guys more than he loves the good guys.

Regardless, swearing an undying revenge on those that harmed your family is always a good plot-point :)

November 13, 2008 5:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


November 13, 2008 8:43 AM  
Blogger Alicia said...


Very cool. This is a Good Thing. :)


PS, I feel guilty because I desperately want the prizes :)

November 13, 2008 1:10 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

Maybe you can tell people who want you to participate elsewhere that you're focusing on just this. It's hard to have a good fund-raiser if you scatter everything to the winds. Goals are great, and focus is needed. I'm really excited and I want to help out! If you end up liking it, maybe you can consider another one some other time.

Also, very true about Batman. I respect people who work hard to alleviate suffering because they've been through it. That's sympathy. I think empathy is harder to achieve, and a glorious form of love.

November 13, 2008 3:57 PM  
Blogger Kendall said...

I hope this doesn't rain on anyone's parade, but re. chicks v. ducks: If you read the fine print, your money doesn't necessarily buy that item; they use the money where it's needed at the time. (And of course, money's fungible, so there's no way to know where "your" money goes anyway; it's not like anyone checked "administrative costs" when donating.... ;-)

I was mildly bummed about this a couple of years ago--I really wanted to buy a heifer! ;-) But only mildly bummed, 'cuz this is one of the most well-thought-out charities there is, IMHO. It rock (as does Pat for doing this, and doubly so for doubling down!)

November 13, 2008 8:25 PM  
Blogger Kendall said...

Sorry, I meant, "it rocks" (with an 's'). Mid-evening typo....

November 13, 2008 8:26 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

OK I think we need to raise $20,000 and ask Pat to film his jaunty little dance, then we could sell veiwing rights to that and raise even more money. Pat everyone has already said this and I hope you knew it before then but you are amazing.

ps word verification: eumwuf : (ummm- woof) noun : The sound your cat makes when you catch it eating the dog food.

November 13, 2008 11:05 PM  
Blogger Fe2O3 said...

Pat, I've been spreading the word near and far. I think the response from your fans has been great. This is perhaps one of the best, spur-of-the-moment, things I've participated in. You deserve the good feelings. And, yes we all want video footage (a la Felicia Day and The Guild) of you doing the happy dance.

@Marky - I've got kids and we sat down at dinner the other night and made the decision to participate as a family. We decided to contribute 1/3 of our Christmas budget. Kids understand what it means to help other kids who perhaps don't even know what a PS3 or Wii is.

@Cap'n Joe - Warm and Fuzzy could be an indication that you need to shave before your big day Saturday.

November 14, 2008 12:28 AM  
Blogger marky said...

Rusty, it makes me extremely warm inside knowing there are people like yourself and your family in the world. If I have bairns, I hope they're just like yours.
The fact that you can decide as a family, that there are people in this world that would benefit more from the money you would spend on presents, and the unswerving generosity shown by everybody on Pats blog, fills me with Christmas spirit and hope, for all our futures.

Marky, who thinks Bono and Geldof, would be proud of you all.

November 14, 2008 3:47 AM  
Blogger Kendall said...

I think there was some comment/question about Heifer International, charities that do things in the U.S., etc. One of HI's FAQs sez they have projects in the U.S. and Canada as well as in other countries.

Just FYI! :-)

November 14, 2008 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Jaimo said...

You've reached your goal!! Congrats Pat!

November 16, 2008 11:57 AM  
Blogger S.E. said...

I've been looking for someone to match my donation to Heifer...and I was happy to see your info come up on google. I was hoping to partially fund a project, the Nepal - Sustainable Community Development Project. Through my travels, I found a lot of Nepalese maids in other countries...substandard work conditions, undocumented and at times dangerous for them. This project reminded me of them...in providing opportunities for them in their own country. I didn't see this option on your page. Would you be interested in matching my $150 donation to this project? If not, I was just going to give the money to a friend and have her make the donation through her work. Thanks for any response!

November 28, 2008 3:03 PM  

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