We like to say Worldbuilders is a nonprofit that was founded by accident. That’s largely true, but the story is a little more involved…
In 2008, Patrick Rothfuss‘s first novel, The Name of the Wind, had some good reviews and a growing fan base. People followed Pat on social media and read his blog. He had no concept of how big his fan base was until he held a photo contest and received hundreds of phenomenal entries. It was a bit of a wake up call.
That holiday season, he decided to hold a different sort of contest. To inspire people to donate money to his favorite charity, Heifer International, he offered to throw donors’ names into a hat and send winners some books from his own collection.
He chose Heifer International because they were his mother’s go-to charity. She liked how smart they are, how their programs sparked lasting, positive change, and how they worked with leaders of the communities they helped. And the more Pat looked into Heifer and their programs, the more he saw how sensible Heifer’s “teach someone to fish” philosophy really is. They have a direct impact on the lives of families and communities around the world, and their approach is deeper and farther-ranging than a lot of others, thanks to their focus on education and their “passing the gift” philosophy.
Pat figured by encouraging people to donate he’d raise $5,000 or so, and offered to sweeten the deal by matching every donation, dollar for dollar. He raised over $50,000 and almost went bankrupt making good on his promise. Realizing that he might be in over his head, he enlisted the help of some of his friends and started Worldbuilders.
Over the years we’ve grown. We now have ten employees and an online store, where people can buy officially licensed merchandise from Pat’s books all year round with profits going right back into the charity. We’ve also been working with more authors and creators, either carrying official merchandise or handling distribution for Kevin Hearne, Holly Black, Rat Queens, Jim Butcher, Bitch Planet, S.L. Huang, Sex Criminals, and more. Since different non-profits have different approaches, we’ve been working with immediate-response charities like Mercy Corps, Project HOPE, and GlobalGiving, as well as education-centric First Book. And still, every year, we encourage people to donate to Heifer International by throwing names into a hat and sending out prizes. It’s the same thing Pat did at the beginning, only now we send out thousands of prizes every year.
And over the last decade, we’ve raised more than $10 million for all those charities.
We do all this because we know poverty is a cycle that is difficult to escape. We also know that, given the chance, people will always help others. Worldbuilders is happy to help provide those chances, and glad be a part of lasting, positive change in the world.
Thanks for joining us,
The Worldbuilders Team