Renowned fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss had no idea what his newly acquired fame could do when he blogged about Heifer International in 2008.
“I believe that deep down, people are good. I believe that most of us would go out of our way to take care of baby ducks,” he wrote that November. He goes on to say that while he enjoyed the nearly one thousand entries he had received from a photo content earlier that year, he wanted to know what happened when he used that energy for a good cause.
Then he told fans about his favorite nonprofit, Heifer International. Heifer International gives livestock and other agricultural products to help families raise their own food and start businesses. They also provide the training families need to raise their own herds and flocks.
Rothfuss put together prize raffles for his fans who donated to Heifer from his team page on their website. After quickly raising $10,000, other authors and retailers got involved to donate prizes and spread the word. Rothfuss promised to match all donations, not expecting to raise the $50,000 that rolled in during the campaign. It was all the money he had earned from his bestselling fantasy novel The Name of the Wind, and he still donated the match, claiming he did not mind being poor, especially for a good reason.
Since that year, the fundraising drive has gotten bigger and bigger, this year reaching nearly half a million dollars. It has been incorporated into Worldbuilders, a charity that raises funds exclusively for Heifer International, complete with a team of six full time fundraisers and managers.
Rothfuss and his team recently traveled to Heifer International’s headquarters and ranch in Perryville, Arkansas to celebrate the success and work on the ranch to see firsthand at how their efforts help families in developing nations. Rothfuss praises Heifer for being a sustainable, environmentally friendly solution to some of the world’s biggest problems. With his staff fully in place, he says he can get back to his real job of writing books but remain hands-on as president of Worldbuilders.