The Ubuntu Model and Andrew Rolfe


Posted by omeditors | Posted in Benefactors | Posted on 16-06-2017

When a non profit opens up their doors they are creating a situation where they depend on generous benefactors. The Ubuntu Education Fund, started by CEO Jacob Lief, has been focused on raising money to help bring education to vulnerable children living in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Lief and the Ubuntu Fund know how important it is to create a relationship with their benefactors but they also know how important it is to have ultimate control over funding related decisions. That is why Jacob Lief approached Andrew Rolfe and the rest of the Ubuntu Fund board in order to start the Ubuntu Model.

Now, what is the Ubuntu Model? Well, in a traditional non profit you will see charities take in as many donations as possible from as many people as they can get it from. They are more focused on creating a flow of steady donations than anything else. Jacob Lief, while on a speaking engagement in Davos for the World Economic Forum, came to a startling conclusion that pretty much changed how he perceived this funding model. Lief says, “It was nonsense. The money was flowing in but we weren’t changing people’s lives.” What Jacob Lief means, and what benefactor and chairman Andrew Rolfe will echo, is that they were making money from benefactors but these funds were so tied up in red tape and earmarks that they weren’t getting where they needed to go.

So, this brought about an entire new approach to fundraising. Lief quickly shifted gears with the kind of benefactors the Ubuntu Fund pursued and it was approved by Andrew Rolfe and the rest of the board. Lief says, “We now go for high net-worth individuals or family foundations who understand that highly restricted funding isn’t worth our time.” This new funding model immediately saw a change in how the Ubuntu Fund worked. While the charity saw a decrease in the amount of money they were raising, they saw a boost in how efficiently that money was getting set to important areas of South Africa. This change fundamentally saved lives and you can bet Andrew Rolfe and the rest of the board were happy about it.