A Geek's Guide to Worldbuilders, Heifer International, and How You Can Help!

Chances are, if you are a science fiction or fantasy fan, you’ve seen the word “Worldbuilders” floating around recently. No, I’m not talking about the awesome authors who create fantastic worlds on planets far away that we can escape to on our lunch breaks, though we honor them as well. I’m talking about fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss’s wonderful charity Worldbuilders.

A lot of you probably heard Pat talking about Worldbuilders and the story behind it on the show this week. Basically, Worldbuilders is a charity where all the proceeds go to benefit Heifer International. Authors and artists, jewelry makers, musicians, game designers—all these people come together and offer items for auction. And we’re not talking holiday bazaar junk. A first edition ARC of Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Critiques of fiction by acclaimed authors. Gorgeous artwork—just head over to their website to see an example of some of the goodies. Not only are there auctions, but many companies like Badali Jewelry and Cards Against Humanity are giving a portion of their funds to Worldbuilders this month. 

Nicole, fulfillment coordinator for Worldbuilders, explains more. “It's an amazing place to work. Everything we do here is to help people, and because of that we get to see the good side of humanity more often than not. We get emails, letters, notes from our supporters that tell us about how they gave up eating out for a month so they could donate to the fundraiser. People who spend a thousand dollars on an auction, only to donate it right back and tell us to keep the money, too. People who buy things in our online store, because they know the proceeds are going to a good cause, rather than buying something cheap online. It's inspiring.”

Where does this money go? Heifer International is actually one of my favorite charities, and has been before Worldbuilders existed. Their mission is to have power over hunger and poverty. What this means is that they don’t just give food to the hungry in Africa, they give them tools and knowledge to build infrastructure so they can continue to strengthen their communities and in turn, become empowered as people. On their website, you can see that you can donate a certain amount to build a well, which will supply a village with clean water for years to come. Or give them goats or other livestock which not only provide meat, but fertilizer, etc. It is true community building, helping these people to live self-sustaining lives.

Nicole elaborates:

“When you donate $20 (which, let's be honest, almost all of us have $20 to spare if we don't eat out tonight), you're giving enough for a starter flock of chickens.  But the families don’t just get those chickens.  They get the training and materials they’ll need to care for those chickens for a long time.

“Best of all, chickens are a good form of pest control, eating insects that damage crops. They scratch and peck at the soil, eating weed seeds and giving themselves dust baths to get rid of mites all on their own. Their droppings fertilize gardens.

“Heifer also trains the people they work with to Pass On The Gift to their neighbors. That means after receiving help from Heifer, a family will go on to help others, sharing baby chicks and training members of their community.

“This means a donation to Heifer is like kicking off an avalanche of good that cascades into the future. For example, in 1952 Heifer provided 70,000 hatching eggs to people in Korea after the country was devastated by war. Twenty years later, the Korean Ministry of Agriculture estimated that half the chickens in Korea were descended from the eggs Heifer supplied.”

And that, my friends, is amazing.

Fantasy Author Bradley P. Beaulieu (Twelve Kings in Sharakhai) auctioned manuscript critique services and more to benefit Worldbuilders this season. “I support builders because, at the end of the day, the money is going to a charity that takes a holistic, no-nonsense, global approach to bettering lives. I really respect that, and have from the moment I learned about them from Pat’s posts the first year he ran his charity drive. The community that has rallied around Worldbuilders is wonderful, but most of all, I’m proud of the difference Heifer is making in the lives of individuals and their communities all across the world.”

Badali Jewelry is one company who has really helped Worldbuilders. Known for their representations of jewelry and other items featured in popular fantasy such as the Dresden Files, the Iron Druid Chronicles, Elf Quest, and yes, Pat Rothfuss’s own Kingkiller Chronicles, they can be found at major conventions throughout the year as well as online. They have been heavily involved with Worldbuilders from early on. 

“We first heard about Worldbuilders after the entire shop had devoured Name of The Wind,” says Janelle Badali, “and we started hoping to court Pat and see if he would let us make jewelry for the books.  When we found out that he started a charity after his first real payday we knew he was not only a crazy talented author but a genuinely fantastic human being and we wanted to work with Pat more then ever.  The stars aligned, Pat approved and we started working together.  The first year we got our licensing, we very tentatively approached Pat and his crew to see if we could donate items to help Worldbuilders out, because so much good was being done there and we wanted to help any way we could.  They said yes and it's been magic ever since.  We love Pat and each member of the Worldbuilders team, and are beyond honored to help out in what ever way we can.  Worldbuilders has become a platform for the geek community to band together and really show the world what you can do if you share a passion and compassion.  Thank you Worldbuilders and Heifer International, you really are the good guys.”

I asked fantasy author Django Wexler (The Shadow Campaigns series) what he thought about donating his painstakingly painted game miniatures and books to the Worldbuilders auction. He answered, “One of the best things about being a writer is how happy you can make people with small things; a scribble and a signature in a book can make someone’s day, and I love doing it.  Worldbuilders is great because it combines that with a wonderful charity – it has a bunch of fun, off-beat interactions between writers and fans, AND it raises money for a good cause.  I’m glad to be able to contribute!”

“Worldbuilders is a great way for a geek to do good in the world,” says Nicole of Worldbuilders. “Not only are you contributing to one of the best charities out there (Heifer International), but you get the chance to win one of the thousands of prizes we have, ranging from signed books, to limited and rare editions of books, as well as games and art.”

So, if after all of that, you don't feel convinced to donate to Worldbuilders in some way, well, carry on, I guess. But they make it so easy to contribute and make a difference, between ebay auctions, the lottery, their store, and more, that I think you'll find there is something for every one. 

About Melanie R. Meadors:

A writer of speculative fiction and lover of geeky things, Melanie R. Meadors lives in a one hundred-year-old house in central Massachusetts full of quirks and surprises. She's been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion.

Her short fiction has been published in Circle Magazine, The Wheel, and Prick of the Spindle, and was a finalist in the 2014 Jim Baen Memorial Science Fiction Contest. She is a freelance publicist, publicity coordinator for Ragnarok Publications, and the Marketing and Publicity Specialist at Mechanical Muse.