My Unusual $100,000 Birthday Present (Plus: Free Round-Trip Anywhere in the World)

burning man 08

Soon 33 years young. I’ll be back on the playa in August for Burning Man.

33. I’ll turn a glorious 33 this weekend.

It’s going to be a great natal year–I can already feel it. Repeating numbers (born in ’77) are good luck. Perhaps it will be good luck for you, too: in this post, I’m giving away a round-trip ticket anywhere in the world and more.

But back to that strange birthday gift…

Much to the chagrin of my momma-san, I’ve become quite difficult to buy presents for. Some friends even think I’m impossible to find presents for.

It’s not entirely true. I love handwritten letters, home-made brownies (like Fred Wilson), girlfriends dressed in next to nothing, and–most of all–when people do something nice.

Before we move on (wait for it, wait for it), please watch this super-short movie trailer:

In lieu of gifts this year, my birthday wish is to help high-need kids in public schools take field trips.

Can you imagine never having the chance to go to the aquarium or natural history museum? “Never” as in, literally, never in your life?

That’s unacceptable.

Since I am turning 33 this year, please help choose a field trip to support here with a tax-deductible $33 donation (or any other amount). Feel free to give from $10-$10,000 in the “Give to the most urgent project” field, whatever you can afford.

If we run out of field trips (which would be awesome), we’ll focus on reading projects. Literacy = the most fundamental path out of poverty.

Beyond the good karma and thank-you letters you’ll receive from the kids:

Incentive #1 – The trip: Donate before this Sunday at 12 midnight PST, and I’ll pick one of y’all randomly. You’ll get a round-trip ticket anywhere in the world that Continental or Star Alliance fly, whether Rome, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, or hundreds of other awesome locations. There is no expiration date on the trip, so you can take your time.

Incentive #2 – How it becomes $100,000: I will match every dollar donated, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000 total. That means that if the field trip gifts (donations) total $50,000, I will write a check for $50,000, all of which will go to public school kids in need. Remember, it’s tax-deductible.

Please go to this page and look around. Seriously, take a peek.

The goal is to get approximately 1,500 donors at an average of $33 each, which will add up to $50,000 and, matched, add up to $100,000.

Incentive #3 – If you want to get some goodies, please help spread the word. Tell people I’m matching donations and get them to this post or this DonorsChoose.org link (same as above). Leave a comment below telling me what you did to spread the word (Facebook, Twitter, e-mail blast, add to your e-mail signature, encourage employees/friends to do the same, etc.).

The three most die-hard promoters will get pairs of my favorite sunglasses on the planet: Maui Jim’s. Grand winner will get a VIP gift card (good for any pair, including $300+ models) and two runners-up will get a pair of $200+ sunglasses of my choosing.

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Beyond the bribes, you’ll feel awesome about yourself for doing some real good for little ‘uns who have so little. Trust me.

Superman is not coming to help these kids, nor is the government — will you step up for even two minutes?

I hope to help with the bigger policy changes, but, as one politician said, “Show me a movement first and then I can respond.”

I think that’s doable, and this little experiment could be exhibit A.

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Note for Non-US readers from Baahar:

“For people from outside the US: during the checkout process on donorschoose.org, it asks for your address. I couldn’t proceed at first because my postal code was too short, and there was no message to indicate what the problem was. Type a 5 digit number to pass that stage.

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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385 Replies to “My Unusual $100,000 Birthday Present (Plus: Free Round-Trip Anywhere in the World)”

  1. I would encourage everyone to donate, as I have seen kids do wonder once they get the required support, my father used to donate for a girls education and she went on to become a engineer. Think about it if she would not have received that support she would have been illiterate.

    Great work tim

  2. Thanks for changing the names, but with the first post there is still the link to my blog and with the second the link + gravatar. I don’t want to be a pain, but still … 🙂

    I see that the donation page is not closed yet. In this case, I might manage to redeem the rest of the codes too.

    I guess short comments get published automatically, so I have to write a little more.

    I stumbled upon this article recently .. fascinating stuff about how language affects the culture of the people who speak it. In case you haven’t seen it yet:

    http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/AIKfOM/online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703467304575383131592767868.html%3Fmod%3DWSJ_newsreel_lifeStyle

    (I post the link directly here, as I’m confident that this comment will be deleted. Please?)

  3. Terrific, Tim. One of the school administrators featured in the video–Michelle Rhee of the Washington, DC system–is really shaking things up in my hometown. She just fired over 100 non-performing teachers over the weekend, and has the teachers union going apoplectic. Some call her policy “scorched earth”. I say it’s about time.

    1. Michelle Rhee is a superstar. I agree with you — “scorched earth” my ass. Bad teachers should be fired just like any bad employee, if not sooner. It’s one thing if someone screws up your paintjob or your tax deductions; it’s quite another if they screw up your kids.

      Tim

  4. Happy birthday Tim. This is a very inspirational and generous idea for a birthday. I donated to a school in my home town of Austin, TX. You’re right. I did feel very god about it. I posted it on Facebook and Twitter, and I challenged my friends do donate too. I just finished reading 4HWW and I am working on developing and implementing my plan. I hope to be able to copy your generous idea for my next birthday (at least the matching part–maybe not the plane ticket and sunglasses). That gives me almost a year. Here’s to success and generosity!

  5. Fantastic. Such an excellent idea and a great way to take action to make a difference. I received a very nice e-mail thanks from the Texas school teacher, Mrs. Moore which just made my day. And by the way Happy Birthday, Tim!

  6. Tim,

    I will see you at burning man this year!!! I am from Nevada and go every year!! You should do a post about it… one of the most creative venues on the planet… among other things… I have posted this to my twitter, facebook and I will be talking about on my show this week. We host a TV SHOW in Denver, CO that is seen by thousands of people… It will air this Saturday. If you want to see the show go to http://www.biznessblogtv.com and you can view last weeks show.

    I am reading this on the 26th…. I hope I did not miss the cut off….

    Happy birthday….

    Blessings,

    Chris Miller

  7. I’m late for the round-trip offer but still wanted to contribute with something, so I donated to the “Books, Books, Books, Everywhere” project. This was a very cool and noble idea for a birthday present… hope you had a blast on Sunday. Keep inspiring people!

  8. Hey Tim,

    I promoted your effort both on twitter and facebook. Although I think the prizes are wonderful, I do not want to put forth my name (if picked) for one of the prizes. I would rather someone else less fortunate and more deserving to enjoy the free trip and other prizes rather than myself. I think what you are doing is far beyond great and is much needed.

    I would very much like to help further with this cause and extend my helping hand past the check and do more. Please contact me if this is possible. Thank You very much.

    Chris

  9. So cool you are doing this. I’ve been twittering your campaign using our photography business account @jasonscottphoto, but I am also a teacher and have lots of projects posted on DonorsChoose at http://www.donorschoose.org/mrsmaiolo – I have 4 new Literacy projects that should be posted in the next couple days and I would love if you could add them to your giving page. Thanks for all you are doing to help teachers and students!

  10. Well Happy Birthday! I sincerely wish you well! I hope your 33 is better then mine. It’s been a rough 33 for me but I’ve still got a few months left. Well I shouldn’t complain. I’ve built a pretty successful business from nothing and cleared 7 figures a year. But it’s been rough losing money this year. I just found your book laying in the guest room the other day and yeah I need a break from this work stuff. It’s funny how now that I have money it doesn’t matter to me. I was so hard core about getting a mil in the bank. Now it’s draining out and I don’t really care. I need something exciting to do. You are right about just needing more money and delayed gratification. 2 weeks a year on the beach and 50 grinding it out ain’t a good way to live. It’s just going to be tough to ditch all these employees with houses and kids and stuff. I feel like I’d be letting them down. I’m pretty sure I could make a lot and minimize my work load and live like I should, it’s just giving up on this place and all these people that work here. It’s not like there are jobs out there for them. Maybe I’ll just blame it all on you. Do you have any experience with this? Have you just shut down a company and walked away leaving a group of people that have depended on your business?

  11. Tim, Once again you come up with another great idea. I would also like to give praise to all the others who donated for such a worthy cause. It amazes how much time volunteers spend in the schools and how much of their personal money teachers spend to provide our kids with the proper education.

    Tim, I’m a longtime follower and will continue to be. Keep up the great work and bringing more posts. The Random Episodes are too far in between.

  12. Tim,

    I am a special education teacher in Harlem who just had my project funded on donorschoose.org. Thank you so much for spreading the word about the many wonderful projects on this website! One of my donors mentioned your blog as the reason that they found my project page. My students will now be receiving 33 sets of guided reading books to help them learn how to read! Amazing!

    Happy Birthday!

  13. Happy birthday, Tim! I’m a ’77 model too.

    So here’s what I did: I facebooked, attached the link to my email signatures, spread the word at work and among friends, AND I set up a gmail account (SupportLiteracy@gmail.com) with an autoresponse that included a link to your donorschoose page.

    I had a creative intern make a poster board that said the following: Support High Poverty Schools — Email: SupportLiteracy@gmail.com.

    Then I stood on a street corner for an hour! Hope it helped!

  14. Tim,

    Your birthday was awesome. You took a simple idea and turned it into helping many children educational programs. And then you added even more. I used your $50.00 gift code on “Help Make the Music Come to Life in Our Classroom”. Nice Job!

  15. Hey, just wanted to join the others in saying how awesome I think it was that you gave us the choice for donating with the $50 gift card. I knew I was going to forget so I immediately went online and donated to a wrestling program in need. You’re doing amazing things, man.

    Thank you!!!

  16. Hey Tim (and others interested in charity, development)!

    Do you know about http://openfarmtech.org? It’s a project developing open-source tools and documentation on how to build advanced civilization from scratch with very few resources and materials. Basically you invest in a few basic tools and build your way from there.

    They already completed a machine that makes bricks from earth so you can build a house wherever you have this $5,000 machine. When this project is finished it will enable people to build an entire village and local economy from nothing but empty land.

    They’re suggesting the project might take 5 years and $400,000 – $800,00 to develop all 40 components. Those include the brick machine, water rigs and wells, a tractor (already built one), solar power components, heating, gardening and haying equipment, chicken incubators, drainage systems, sewage, machine shop tools, kitchen, live stock, grains, greenhouses (already built one), 3D-printer, electronic circuits and much more. In short, with all 40 projects you can build a modern city from scratch.

    With only 5 or 10 you could already get a roof over people’s head and feed them, which would be a major improvement for billions of people. And remember: Once one of these projects is researched, everyone can download complete manuals for free, since it is open source, and build it for material and labor costs. From locally available resources like earth and wood.

    This is better than giving people a fishing rod. It’s an open-source fishing-rod-workshop-kit. So if you want to invest somewhere to enable people in poor conditions or areas to help themselves, check this project out.

    Disclaimer: I’m not actually a member of this project, I just love the idea. Give people the knowledge and tools to help themselves – for free.

  17. Tim this is such a generous deed! I was a kid who didn’t grow up with much either. I just happened to live in a town & county with a great and financially abundant school system. Now I’m growing 2 businesses and pushing them into empires all because people believed in me and wanted to show me the world. We have to believe in and encourage our youth.

    My fiance and I will be making our donations tonight 🙂

    You are truly special.

    Ms. Sophia

  18. Dear Tim,

    Thank you for sharing your birthday with us and to you and your readers so much for the amazing outpouring of generosity over the last week. I was introduced to DonorsChoose about a year ago but have never seen such a tremendous response to donate to schools in need. Your actions are truly awe-inspiring.

    For those of you who are interested in supporting DonorsChoose more, there are many more opportunities to support projects:

    Sign up for a monthly automatic donation and receive a free $50 donor card: https://secure.donorschoose.org/donors/lastingImpact.html?execution=e1s1

    Switch your search engine to Bing for a free $3 Donor Card:

    http://www.discoverbing.com/education/searchwithpurpose/?form=MFEHPG&publ=DBING&crea=TEXT_MFEHPG_Cause_Hero_DSE_1x1&fbid=VXkBxNYr0bX&wom=false

    If you have an Android or iPhone, download the CauseWorld app to donate karmas to DonorsChoose and many other charities for free: http://www.causeworld.com

    On a personal note, I have become a patron to a high school science teacher in Colorado who touched me with her story and dedication to bring modern science to a rural school. Through your generosity Tim, the stars are aligning so that all of her current projects are going to be funded.

    Please know, that you and everyone who has donated has changed a life and made it better. The short term payoff of knowing you have helped is nothing in comparison to how many lives you have improved and will prosper in the years to come. Thank you, Vanessa

  19. As a teacher, I am truly touched that you would donate your money to help in our classrooms. I also appreciate all of your fans for graciously dedicating their time and money to help make a difference in children’s lives. I posted how wonderful this idea was on facebook with a link to your blog. I wanted people to know there are celebrities in this world making a difference!

  20. Hi Tim,

    Happy birthday and thank you for a wonderful (and successful) birthday challenge. One of my grant requests was funded, in part, by your readers. I was hoping that you could add another proposal for my students to your challenge.

    Happy 33rd! May your next year be filled with joy!

  21. Tim,

    Happy birthday bro! I turn 36 on Sunday and life just gets better. As a fundraising professional turned public school teacher I cannot tell you enough how awesome this gesture is. Kids need field trips, current technology, performing arts programs, and hands on learning. Keep passing the good karma around. Education can never have enough champions!

    Not to self promote too blatantly, but I have a blog dedicated to helping public school teachers and administrators with fundraising and resource development, http://ianadair.wordpress.com/

    Your book changed my professional outlook on life- looking forward to the next one.

  22. Hi Tim,

    I just finished reading your book in Chinese, and was totally stoked by the ideas! I can’t believe how young you are…. some of your humour got lost in the translation, but most of it was kept in tact.

    I’m surprised to find you on social media since you advocate a low info diet, I’ve just edited my facebook friends from 600 to 464. Are you a burner?? I’m trying to organize some friends to go this year. Went 2 years ago and had SUCH a blast, would love to meet you on the playa.

    Happy belated birthday! I think it’s an amazing contest, I just found out about it now, but did retweet it.

    Please keep on passing the good word.

    PS: Your book is near the front door of Chapters book store in Canada, but sold for $26… which I find it strange because on amazon it’s only $12 something in US. Right now the exchange rate is about equal. You might want to look into that.

  23. Hi Tim,

    Great idea! You’ve inspired me to give to this project and to do something similar on my birthday.

    When I was in public school in Oregon it was fabulous, but two years behind me when my little brother was going through high school, many budget cuts had already been voted in (so we could pay less tax) and were taking their toll – and it just kept going from there! 🙁

    Way to promote positive change!!

  24. Dude- Very cool. Helping the minds of the future. I may do something like this for my 52nd next year or our 10yr old good way to get her started. I’m not the social media type but have told a few friends. Here’s to writing that 100K check.

    Happy Birthday! MYMAN

  25. Bon Anniversaire Tim 😉

    Your book, life by your own choices are trully inspiring.

    Be the next 33 years, even greater! And yes, it’s good to be a kid 😉

    Enjoy!

  26. Awesome. It would be sweet if to hear feedback like 6 months from now how the projects go. I hear it’s not too hard to hire cheap VA’s to do work like that ;).

    It would also be sweet if they had an timer by the donation amount.. like “As of 3:09:55pm PST or something. (I see that it updates the amount automatically after sitting there a while 10-20mins depending on when donations are made obviously) but still’d be cool to have. I wouldn’t mind hooking donorschoose.org if there was connection and interest.

    – Joe M

  27. LONDON – San Francisco HOUSE SWAP

    Can anyone recommend a virtual assistant who can find me a house swap in London (trading my 3 BR in Marin County outside of San Francisco) for four months from September – December? Any tips or pointers? Virtual assistants to recommend?

  28. Thanks for posting this. I’m making my way through your book (got it this afternoon, and on pg 57 now) and came across the link to your blog and saw this posting. Cool birthday idea, and I’m really enjoying the book so far. Throws a lot of my ideas about the world on their head.

    Anyway, Happy Birthday, and best wishes toward the kids these donations go to help!

  29. Faced it, Tweeted it, stumbled it and will reblog it.

    Great initiative for a very symbolic 33rd year.

    “because they take themselves so lightly angels can fly”

  30. Hi Tim,

    Happy belated birthday (late is better than never)!

    It doesn’t surprise me at all that you go to the Burn after reading the 4HWW!

    Do you remember the two semi trucks welded to each other in the shape of a “S” at BM2008? It was amazing to watch the sunrise from the top of that!!

    Burning Man is amazing, this will be my 6th consecutive one. I find it is the perfect place to release and clear my mind for a week.

    I go by the playa name “Conscious Pilot”. At the Burn, I like to gift my Visual talents (VJing, projector art) for theme camps such as the Opulent Temple.

    Tim, can I buy you a refreshment at Center Camp? I’d like to say “Hi” at the burn if you can find a few minutes in your busy schedule!

    If you will be able to meet up for a quick drink, please e-mail me at (jason.carter.martin@gmail.com) as to what time will be good for you. Any time between Tuesday and Sunday during BM will work for me!

    Thanks, and hope I can buy you a chai tea @ the burn!

    Jason

  31. Someone helped me along the way in life. Even my meager donation will surely help someone else. I like what you did here. Pay it forward is not just the name of a move. . . 🙂

  32. I’ve read your book and followed you for a few years and love the whole journey. I hope to one day help street kids in the Philippines as they have no government aid there. Cheers to your philanthropic ideas!

  33. Happy HAPPY Birthday!

    Incredible idea… kudos, again 🙂

    What you give, you receive… multiple times over… lets keep the flow of energy going 🙂

    Lisa

    Xx

  34. Glad I asked! We were in the middle of a mini-mini retirement, and didn’t check email, so I missed your gift. So, after reading the post I scanned back through email and sure enough…$50 gift card!

    Thanks for matching our donation and then some!

    Happy Birthday, and thanks for everything Tim!

    Travis and Robin

  35. I love your book and have started putting it to good use. doesn’t surprise me that you are a burner too. I’ve been struggling to figure out next steps as of late and this has opened a new door. I seem to find the people on the playa that I should – I look forward to seeing you out there either way have a great one.

    cheers

    hedda

  36. Dude! I hope I cross paths with you in the desert!

    Though I guess it’s a little creepy to run up to randoms and go, “hey you kinda look like tim ferris I read your book you’re my hero OMG” while wearing a tutu and not much else… heh heh heh…

    Look out for a bike with deer antlers on it. Yep, that’s me. in the sea of 40 000 other people.

    Actually I met one of my other favourite bloggers out in the desert! But he was a very identifiable splash of pink, one John Halcyon Styn.

    Anyways. Have fun out there!! and happy birthday and good luck with your birthday gift!

  37. The educational system fails even those who ostensibly do well in it.

    Making marginal improvements for the poorest, broken-home children and slapping yourselves on the back for it might do nothing but keep the larger beast of Big Education alive.

    The educational goals of a society ought to be based on *ideals*, not on clearing the low-hurdles set by abject Big Government failure.

  38. Tim,

    I would like to invite you to help light Black Rock City while you are on the Playa. You’ve probably seen us Lamplighters before in our white robes hanging around a thousand hurricane lanterns nightly for “illumination, navigation, and celebration.” It is a big job but many hands make light work. Not to mention that it is fun and makes you feel good.

    We meet every evening at 5pm (4pm on Burn Night). Find us at the Lamplighter Chapel that borders Center Camp on the 5 o’clock side. It takes a couple hours. Once you’ve done it you will be presented with schwag that give lets you chill in the two story Lamplighter Lounge (with lots of shade and couches) and drink off the bar for the whole week.

    We also throw two open-invite parties, the Sangria Soiree (Monday 10pm) and the Bloody Mary Brunch (Wednesday noon). Bring your own cup.

    Ask for Jobi around camp, I’d love to swap some travel stories!

  39. Hi Tim, what a wonderful birthday gift idea! Happy Birthday, hope it’s a great year for you and what an inspiration — you are transforming people’s lives through your book and now through your donation initiatives. I think I was one of the last people in Silicon Valley to read your book, but have tried to incorporate some of your concepts in my life. With two young kids, we are valuing education and teachers more than ever and look forward to our son’s first day of kindergarten tomorrow!

    I will tweet, facebook and blog about your birthday program!

  40. The sad fact remains that you live in the most prosperous nation in the world and yet it can’t (or won’t) fund a good quality education for the next generations to come.

  41. Heya Tim. I know this post is from a long time ago, so a belated happy birthday to you!

    I can’t believe… you’re a month younger than me, and you’re so much more successful. I’ve been reading your book and I’m amazed at your discoveries and knowledge. I’m definitely going to apply what I’ve learned from your book and try to get somewhere in life.

    Cheers!

  42. Happy Birthday Tim! I am a new fan that has just read the 4-hour Workweek & ordered your new book already. With your inspiration, I have been trying to simply my life and be truly grateful for all the blessings and opportunities that I have.

    I have donated & posted on Facebook – trying to encourage as many people as possible to get involved, donate, and watch “Waiting For Superman”. If everyone could contribute just a little… it could have a huge impact!

    Thanks for your inspiration!

  43. Happy Birthday Tim! I love your 4 Hour Work Week and am buying your 4 Hour Body to support you and LEARN! Thank you for all your ideas and encouragement.

    I gave today, in honor of my best friend Carol, who was just admitted to hospice today and is very close to death. She has been the most amazing friend and loves to read and write and learn…therefore, this opportunity to give in her honor is such a privilege! Thank you very much for your kind, generous heart, your horizon thinking and leadership and opportunity to give on a large scale! Best wishes for a happy birthday Tim!

    Isabelle

  44. “I gave to this project because Timothy Ferris, author of the 4-hour workweek inspired me to be generous through his own generosity.

    For two birthdays in a row now he has been matching donations making my $33 donation, $66. Thanks Tim, and thank you to DonorsChoose for making it easy to make a difference.”

    Dude seriously Tim, not to sound like your greatest fan in the world, but you seriously inspire me to be a better person. Because of you I quit my stressful job, moved to the islands of Thailand, found and pursued my dreams of becoming a scuba diving instructor, and started training in MMA and Muay Thai.

    I sincerely hope that you have an amazing year because you truly deserve it bro.

    Warm Regards,

    Johnny Jen

  45. Happy Birthday and what a wonderful gift idea! So much better than that extra piece of something you just don’t need and will only stick in a drawer.