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

385 Comments

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.

###

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.

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. Hey Tim… Happy 33rd! I’ve got you by 10 years. Yes ~ of course I’ve read your book. May I give you a gift? http://www.acceleratorforsuccess.com It’s the best strategies I have from my time as a National Trainer for Tony (peak performance) Robbins, and as a protege of Jay (The marketer) Abraham. Enjoy it, and hope to meet you somewhere while traveling the world. ~Bill

    Like

  2. Happy Birthday Tim,

    Thanks for all that you do man; you’ve inspired so many and given back to so many. Keep kicking ass.

    Going to make my donation right now!

    -Steve

    Like

  3. Hey Tim!

    I want to say that I think this is a totally awesome thing that you’re doing, I myself have just graduated from Summit Preparatory Charter High School– Emily, (the first girl)in the movie is a good friend of mine!

    I have had the best high school experience I could have possibly imagined at Summit, and I feel that Charter schools are one of the best alternatives for students seeking higher education and supportive teachers.

    –IN FACT, if it weren’t for my Junior year AP English Language and Composition class, I wouldn’t have read The 4-Hour Work Week, which really changed how I see the world. It’s because our teacher had us form groups of 4-6 students to read a non-fiction book together and have discussions about it. It was the best read I’ve ever had.

    Thank you so much for everything, Tim!
    I will certainly donate soon :)

    -Sean Garnsey

    Like

  4. I posted on my Facebook page, sent it to a columnist I know (Amy Alkon) who will hopefully feature it on her blog, posted it on my LinkedIn page and am putting it on my blog (papergowntales.com).

    -Julie

    Like

  5. That is at really good idea. I have mainly focused on the poor food being poured into school children. Most times you can not call it food at all.

    I’m glad that their possibilities to be taught are also in focus.

    Heres hoping you will have to write a big check! :-)

    Here in DK you don’t have to pay for education, and you even get money from the state while studying. Not a lot, but enough to get by without the need to have a job while studying.

    Like

  6. Tim, I just donated 33 bones so the kiddies could walk with the dinosaurs. I don’t see it has being register under your name. I hope you’ll be able to match.

    Like

  7. Tim, thanks for raising awareness at the detrimental decline in the quality of education children are receiving in this country. As a father, my wife are already seriously considering the benefits that home schooling will offer our child. Thanks for being a part of this cause. Regardless of any prizes that may be offered (thank you for your generous heart), my family will be making a contribution. Thanks for matching it. You are a true 2.0 philanthropists. Thank you for the continued education and motivation.

    Like

  8. Gave all that I could. It’s so great that you’ve been able to create this incredible movement. Thanks for all of the information.

    Like

  9. Happy Birthday Tim. I don’t know your mailing address so I hope a comment works too.

    You’ve helped me make the decision to see Europe last summer and now I am living in argentina publishing one book and writing two more.

    Your blog posts on exercise and fat loss helped me develop a plan that has gotten me from 24% bodyfat to 15% and I’m still going.

    The value you’ve just added to my life through your work is amazing and I hope to continue raising my own capacity to add value as well.

    Thanks and have a nice birthday.

    p.s. I’m glad Matisyahu got into the promotion of the film. He deserves more attention as an artist.

    Like

  10. This is an absolutely incredible way to use your birthday to help out others.

    Just like you’ve inspired me in almost all other facets of my life, you’ve now made me think of even more ways to help out others on what is known as something is supposed to be an almost selfish day.

    I just donated, and posted this on facebook, and I started and will continue to tell my friends about all the great work you are doing.

    I hope to do something similar one day soon, and rally up support for great causes.

    Thank you Tim!
    -Aylon

    Like

  11. Donations in lieu of material gifts are some of my favorite ways to honor birthdays and other gift-giving occasions. For this past Mother’s Day, I donated to Room to Read in honor of her gift to me: a passion for reading and learning. I did similarly for Father’s Day, for his inspiration to just keep pushing on.

    I’m only too happy to do so in honor of your birthday. I may not know you personally, but your book and your blog and your mission has inspired me to reevaluate my choices in life in light of a mission that asks more of me than to just “show up and punch in.”

    I know the kids who receive the product of these donations will be thrilled, and I’m happy to see that a public figure like yourself seems to genuinely support causes like these.

    Happy birthday, Tim, and many happy returns!

    Like

  12. 1977 – great vintage year. ; )

    Also turned 33 a few days ago. Got a great feeling about things this year!

    Count me in. I will donate $33. Unfortunately I am not able to personally donate more at this moment. But I will spread the word and ensure a few thousand from network donations. What goes round comes around.

    Luso

    Like

  13. Very generous birthday idea! I’ve posted it to Twitter/FB and an aggregator site and committed you $33 towards that 100k gift.

    It’s very frustrating to see a country of such great wealth align its priorities so that children have to bank on a lottery to get a decent education.

    Like

  14. oh, and one more thing for a blog post idea:

    how do you go about connecting with organizations and starting your own fundraisers? A case study based upon this one and several others would make a tight blog post. It will really help those of us who are just starting to figure out what we would like to support and don’t know how to do begin leading these kinds of efforts

    Like

  15. Hi Tim,

    Kudos to you for making a difference. You got a “Torontonian” on board – donated to the Aquarium trip!

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your book The 4hr Workweek … gave me a good kick in the pants to build out my own boutique agency. I’ll be venturing out on my own this fall, breaking free of SouthWestern Ontario, assuming the role of “Chief Digital Nomad” for my agency.

    That round-trip ticket would sure come in handy!

    I have no doubt in my mind that your “following” will meet your challenge and hit the $50K goal.

    All the best!

    Like

  16. Happy Birthday Tim

    I sent a tweet and facebook update. I also donated my company’s internet marketing pro plan. 3 to 5 staff members focused on driving traffic to the donorschoose.org page. I have also instructed my staff to include the link in their email signatures.

    Like

  17. Tim,
    Spread the good karma and gave 50 bucks. Hope it gives the kids a great time! Have a happy birthday and since mine is coming up I might try something similar!

    Like

  18. Thank you for promoting DonorsChoose! It’s a great website and with the nation-wide funding crisis, we need all the help we can get. I’m fundraising with it for my local school district. I hope that everybody can lend a hand.

    Like

  19. Actions Taken:

    $33 Donation in Tim’s name
    Shared through facebook + link
    Shared through Twitter + link
    Shared through every email contact I know + link

    Actions to be taken:

    Trip with Tim via Continental or Star Alliance NOT to Rome, Tokyo, or Buenos Aires – but to feed children in need.

    I know the trip is selected at random, but in the spirit of giving it is the only appropriate reaction.

    Tim, email me for details on how I spread the word for you today and how my company, Impact Foods, is planning a trip this winter to begin fulfilling our mission of eradicating hunger. We would love to partner with one of those airlines if you have a contact over there.

    Thank you for your selflessness – from Room to Read to this most recent project.

    – Ben Hurt

    Like

  20. Tim (and all),

    Seeing this post and your commitment, just touched off a slew of emotions. I’ve known for some time now that children and their education are very important to me. But this really hit home to see these facts presented. I’ve rationalized and made excuses for not doing anything, but that is over. With this economy taking my job down the tube I have ample time (while I build my muse) to impact kids in my area. Whether I end up with Big Brothers Big Sisters or just substitute teaching, I am going to impact my community.

    Thanks for setting so many examples for me and others.

    Kind Regards,

    Curt Rapp

    Like

  21. I have created a campaign of my own on our website to raise pledges from my friends and family, and will then match any amount I receive by 7/31. Great cause!

    Like

  22. Hey Tim! What a great idea! I donate every month to donors choose (although I do try to keep it in the local Tampa area with only a few exceptions.) It is a fantastic way to help tomorrows generation and support our teachers in what they think is best for the kids.

    I have it linked to my facebook (which is linked to my LinkedIn) so that it reminds as many people as I can do. Maybe it’s time to setup twitter too.

    Best of luck. I truly hope you get well over 50k in donations this weekend!

    Jason

    Like

  23. What a cool idea! It felt so good to be able to complete one of the donation. I posted it to Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for supporting education.

    Like

  24. Happy Birthday Tim! Like you I was born in ’77. So we share more and more things. I have email blasted all I know as well as Facebooked and Linkedin and put a note into my companies blog as well.
    I love the birthday idea.

    Like

  25. I love to be able to donate money for education on the other side of the planet.
    Maybe I should set up something like DonorsChoose.org in Germany.
    Anyway, thank you for inspiring so many people (again) and turning idea into action (not only your own, but mine).
    Have a great year.

    Like

  26. Tim,
    I have been emotionally moved recently by kids in my line of police work and I am going to donate to this cause. I have read your book and I am going to look into some of your suggestions on charities to help. You are a role model of mine and I have learned alot from your life! Thank you very much! I will be facebooking this donation and this will motivate me to start a twitter account right now!

    Like

  27. Happy B-day (well this weekend). I donated some $$ and oh: I don’t expect anything back. Did it because I care about those children. Great initiative!

    Like

  28. Happy Birthday….”the mind is a beautiful thing” and so are kids. As a grandmother I know the importance of field trips and kids. Love them both!
    Thanks for inspiring me. I am also spreading the word via Facebook, Twitter and a personal email to my son who knows how meaningful field trips are to my little granddaughter…added my $33 to Most Urgent…Literacy project..

    Like

  29. Wonderful initiative. I will tweet about this until Sunday and spam a few forums on Etsy too. I also donate a few of my items …

    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 where the problem is. Type a 5 digit number to pass that stage.

    Like

  30. You’ve convinced me… Happy Birthday Tim!! I made my donation and the kids are the ones who will reap the benefits of your birthday. Much more rewarding than a cake anyway!!

    Like

  31. Thanks Tim for helping others in need and inspiring others to give… I wouldn’t have donated to a worthy cause today if it weren’t for your reminder…

    Like

  32. Happy birthday Tim. Thanks for bringing these projects to our attention. I enjoy your posting but I enjoyed reading about the school projects even more! Better get your checkbook out, I think you might reach that goal.

    Like

  33. ?????????????????And a big ????, too.

    Great birthday gift idea. And thanks for turning us on to “Waiting for Superman”. Can’t wait to see it (though it looks like Seattle is falling behind in the pledge rankings…)

    And speaking of rankings, that is my only potential beef with the “American kids are falling behind other countries” issue. While it is certainly true that most of our public schools suck (and are getting worse year by year), using standardized test scores as the measure for success only makes matters worse. Once schools and students are rewarded or penalized based on test scores alone, school becomes more about memorizing and cramming (as they tend to be in Japan, Taiwan, Korea and China) and not about learning to learn as they should be.

    Fortunately, the donations you’re talking about actually address the root cause: getting students excited about learning and providing them opportunities to learn outside of bland textbooks and classrooms.

    Like

  34. This is refreshing. Confidence without a knowledge base is scary.

    “Either the kids are getting stupider every year, or something is wrong in the education system” ~ Geoffrey Canada

    Like

  35. Happy Birthday, Tim! Here’s to many more.

    How I’ve promoted this awesome initiative: I started with a retweet from my personal twitter, and Liked the post on FB. I bumped up the post someone did of it on Reddit, and built a Squidoo lens (http://www.squidoo.com/one-simple-way-to-make-a-100-000-difference-to-public-schools). Btw, any monies the Squidoo page makes is going to DonorsChoose. After that, I sent an emailed my one non-work email list with the info. Somewhere in there, I made my donation, as well. Tonight, I’ll retweet from the twitter of the muse I’m building.

    Enjoy your day, and the difference you’re making. You’ve earned it.

    Like

  36. Thanks Tim, Happy birthday to you.

    I admit to feeling super lame at 35 when I see what you have and are doing in life. And to see what you are capable of…just Awesome, my friend. Good Job!

    I created a white elephant party for my 30th where every one went home with a present!

    Oh well, I know better than to compare. This is the last time.

    Here is to your super successful Charity Campaign and to a gnarly Burning Man For you!

    Like

  37. “To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.” – Mark Twain

    Judging by the cited statistics in the video, Americans have ignorance and confidence down pat. And that, my friends, drives ambition.

    Like

  38. Penblwydd hapus (happy birthday) Tim,

    I just linked your facebook page and donated some dollars.

    p.s. I saw that the publishing date of your new book has been moved from September to December 14th. Say it isn’t so(. I can’t wait that long

    Like

  39. Tim:

    In light of what your book, blog and references to other valuable information have done for me, the least I could do for your birthday was to honor your request for a donation to donorschoose.org.

    I posted it on my facebook page and sent out an e-mail blast to my personal e-mail contacts.

    If we can’t help our family, friends and kids, who can we help!?

    BTW – Happy Birthday!

    Like

  40. Happy Birthday.
    Encouraging donation and giving away your own money as a birthday celebration is cool like Fonzie. (Yes I have just read the comment rules)
    I need to think about what I can do on my birthday.
    Happy Karma.

    Like

  41. Happy birthday Tim!

    I interact with a lot of recent high school grads and folks that haven’t even received a GED (but in their mid-20s or older) and have noticed their struggles over the years. Your focus on education is very inspiring. I went ahead and finished out the Alice in Wonderland project. I hope they really enjoy it.

    Keep up the awesomeness.

    Like

  42. Birthday wishes from the UK Tim. Hopefully this will inspire others to give as well as receive on their birthday. A few $$ are headed across the pond.

    Like

  43. Congrats on your birthday! You have really found a better way of celebrating than most.

    I have donated, tweeted, and FB’ed… your challenge and the trailer.

    The movie really touches me as during my research I spent over a year sifting through this data… but seeing the faces of this truth is far more difficult. I have given most of my life to education and technology, so seeing the current state of schools breaks my heart. But seeing those that are willing, wanting, and able to do something about it brings me hope.

    If there is anything you need in your future endeavors along this line… I’m in, at any level.

    Like

  44. Is it possible to add one of my kindergarten classroom’s projects to your giving page? THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! :o) Here are the links to our projects…
    Comfy Cozy Reading Corner http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=407915
    When I Grow Up I Want to Be…
    http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/proposal.html?id=407918

    Also, not sure if you know about this already, but BING is giving away $3 free giving codes to anyone who goes to their website. Maybe you can retweat this and all of your followers can get those giving codes and use it towards projects on your giving page!! Here’s the link for the BING giveaway:

    http://www.discoverbing.com/education/searchwithpurpose/?form=MFEHPG&publ=DBING&crea=TEXT_MFEHPG_Cause_Hero_DSE_1x1&fbid=aKUoDlgEW9k&wom=false

    Like

  45. Tim, I am not one to post kudos, I just sit back and silent unless I see something to debate about. But the combination of the video and your post really tugged the heart strings and I want to say thank you for standing up in the gap and doing something about it. Thank you. I am in.

    Like

  46. Happy Birthday Tim.

    I gave $33 to a classroom in Illinois that is looking to use new media technologies in their multi-cultural class. This is a wonderful idea you are promoting in lieu of the normal selfish b-day requests most people look for.

    I also spread to nearly by 3,000 followers on Twitter & Facebook.

    I hope we max out all of these donations!

    Like

  47. Tim Ferriss, Happy Birthday!

    I Posted this on Facebook. I will push it out a few more times. Thank you for everything!

    Like

  48. First post, long time reader…

    Great idea & great cause!

    I retweeted your post and facebooked your posts’ link. Then when I went to Donorschoose.org I tweeted and facebooked that I gave and did so motivated by your post. Third, I emailed a few people who I shared your book with to do the same.

    Like

  49. Congratulations with your birthday Tim, I appreciate what you do for your country but let me challenge you:

    Give me one good reason why I should donate as a Western European to the public schools of the richest country in the world. A country that, if I should believe you, apparently failed to get their education system right although they have the most resources in the world…

    Why oh why should I donate money to fix a system that shouldn’t lack any resources at all in the first place while there are so many educational backwater countries that could really, really use my euro’s?

    Don’t forget who your audience is Tim. Don’t ask this from people who read your blog but live outside US, some in countries that barely have an educational system at all….

    Like

    • Hi Rolfski,

      In that case, I’d encourage you to give your euros to the “educational backwater countries” that need it more. That wouldn’t bother me one bit.

      That said, I think it’s easy for countries without 50 states, state legislature, and 300+ million people to criticize a country that, while it’s made plenty of mistakes, has done pretty well for one created in the late 1700’s. Our education is, however, f*cked up. No doubt. Hence this initiative and my other attempts to correct it.

      Tim

      Like

  50. I wish you had posted this earlier in the week. I would have had more time to advertise.
    As it is, I have tweeted it, posted it on Facebook, Sent an email to RoadID.com to see if they will tweet and share it (b/c they have larger followers/friends than me) also I found out the donorschoose.org is featured, in part by, NPR.
    So I wrote them a little story they could choose to publish, either by their facebook page or NPR.com at their Tell Me More segment, hopefully.
    They originally did an interview with Charles Best who created the Donorschoose.org site.
    And donate I will, while doing a little something something at my blog.
    I find new ideas in your blog everytime you publish and I really try do “do” and not “have” nowadays. Saving money and decluttering my life . Thank you.

    Like

  51. Sent this link to the 50,000+ subscribers on my product’s mailing list. This is the first email to this list unrelated to my business. I’m happy it can be something positive and productive.

    Brainstorm: I use Aweber for my list. Maybe these types of charity announcements could be offered to customers for delivery to their lists. Marketing emails need a little heart. A DonorsChoose link would be perfect.

    Happy Birthday.

    Like

  52. What do you get the man who has everything? Nothing. Let him give to others who are not as fortunate. Such a fantastic idea and a great way to give back, Tim.

    Happy Birthday!

    I hope the donors get more than the $100 000 and some of your wealthy friends boost that number up even further! I can’t imagine that some people have never been to a museum before. It really hits home how rich we really are.

    Like

  53. Exciting stuff, I dontated your darn $33…but just because its your birthday. Also I just hired my first full-time employee today and my business website/system is 95% complete and almost completely automated following your advice in the book. Ridiculous income. All nighters setting this up. This is going big. I’m super stoked.

    I definitely come from the other frame of reference though as I really think non-government-run school initiatives are the way to go. Just as pumping more water through a leaky hose only creates a bigger problem. Its the hose (or the educational system in this case) that is the problem, NOT the amount of money they have at their disposal.

    The answer to education is NOT money. Most of your testimonials have proven that businesses, innovation, and change, can be created without large amounts of money. Its the people at top that are the variable holding back our educational system. The bureaucrats

    (Uh oh Im about to start on a pseudo-libertarian rant again…I’ll spare you)

    But what we need are PEOPLE and INNOVATIVE people to somehow be incentivised to contribute their MINDS to creating SYSTEMS that are more condusive to teaching kids to be leaders, rather than followers.

    A systemic towards a privatised school system will allow for freer system and more trial and error moving towards successful ways to run schools. Free the markets! Happy birthday Tim and I look forward to being on the “Rich Jerk” side of the business soon, not the “loooooser” side.

    Best,
    JC

    Like