You can raise all of the money in the world but if it gets locked away by red tape and benefactor requests, it isn’t making a difference for anyone. This is a lesson that Ubuntu Education Fund founder Jacob Lief had to come to the hard way. Lief created the foundation in order to try and help the poor and vulnerable children of Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, get a better education.
At a speaking engage for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Lief was hit hard with a moment of clarity. Lief looked around the room and said, “It was nonsense. The money was flowing in but we weren’t changing people’s lives.” To come to this realization after raising so much money had to have been hard for Lief, but it was an important distinction to make. The donors were coming to the Ubuntu Education Fund in droves but their money was heavily regulated, earmarked for certain tasks, and altogether not as useful as it could be. Lief knew that a change needed to be made and that he had to be the engineering force.
So, Jacob Lief approached Andrew Rolfe and the rest of the board members at the Ubuntu Fund. They had to make a decision in order to find a way to solve their problem and that gave way to the Ubuntu Model. The Ubuntu Model is a revolutionary new way for non profits to approach their benefactors while retaining all of the power in the relationship. The Ubuntu Model insists on focusing solely on high end donors: benefactors who have a high net worth and foundations who are firmly entrenched in the non profit world. The reason, Andrew Rolfe and Jacob Lief reasoned, was that these benefactors would be more willing to allow the Ubuntu Fund to work without regulation.
The result in the Ubuntu Model was that suddenly the Ubuntu Education Fund was working more efficient than ever. Despite a slight downtick in donations, the Ubuntu Fund was able to streamline where their money was going. Andrew Rolfe and the rest of the crew at the Ubuntu Fund couldn’t have been happier.