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 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.


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.


Note for Non-US readers from Baahar:

“For people from outside the US: during the checkout process on, 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.

Posted on: July 22, 2010.

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

  1. Happy HAPPY Birthday!
    Incredible idea… kudos, again :)
    What you give, you receive… multiple times over… lets keep the flow of energy going :)


  2. 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


  3. 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.



  4. 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!


  5. 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.


  6. 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!


  7. 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!


  8. 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.


  9. 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.



  10. 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!


  11. 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!


  12. “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


  13. 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.