When it comes right down to it, the goal of a non profit is to get donations in order to fuel the cause that they’ve selected to uphold. For Jacob Lief and the Ubuntu Education Fund, the cause was simple. The Ubuntu Education Fund seeks to bring a better chance at life to vulnerable children located in Port Elizabeth of the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa. With the proper funding in place the Ubuntu Education Fund can make a difference for those children in order to start some real social change in the province. Unfortunately for Jacob Lief, the Ubuntu Education Fund can get caught up in all of the traditional red tape of a non profit. Fortunately, however, Lief found a way to re-focus his team.
The Ubuntu Education Fund is running on an entirely different sort of donor/benefactor model. Instead of trying to get every person to donate to the fund the team on the board, including Andrew Rolfe and Jacob Lief, are focused instead on finding high quality donors. Andrew Rolfe, who has personally donated $100,000 of his own money to the fund, calls this the ‘Ubuntu Model’. Jacob Lief explains the Ubuntu Model a little more clearly by stating, “We now go for high net-worth individuals or family foundations who understand that highly restricted funding isn’t worth our time.” Lief knows that restricted funding can be the death sentence of a non profit and so, of course, he has made sure to pioneer this new effort.
Non profits have had a notoriously tough time balancing their need for quality benefactors with the trouble that can come with a benefactor who is too hands on. Benefactors range in styles and some like to keep their hands just a little bit too hands on throughout the process. Some benefactors, such as Peter Lewis, would impose boycotts on certain charities if they didn’t meet his demands with the funding. So you can see why this new Ubuntu Model is so important. With any luck this new model will give more non profits the courage to reach out and change their methods.