How Andrew Rolfe’s Ubuntu Fund is Changing Lives

It can be a difficult thing running a non profit. Non profits have to reside in both sides of the business world: they are in charge of all the problems that a normal business while also having to deal with benefactors, donations, and all of the red tape that comes with it. Jacob Lief founded the Ubuntu Education Fund in order to aid vulnerable children in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. His noble goal was to bring money into the region in order to get education to these children, thus improving their life. Lief has done a lot of great work in the region but there is still more to do.


While speaking at the World Economic Forum, one of the many jobs that Lief has with the foundation, he came to a startling and unsettling realization. Despite making a ton of money for the foundation most of it wasn’t getting to where it needed to go. Lief said, “It was nonsense. The money was flowing in but we weren’t changing people’s lives.” Lief realized what every non profit will eventually realize: their donations came with strings attached and those strings were stopping the Ubuntu Fund from doing what needed to be done. So, Lief decided to go back to the board which is led by Andrew Rolfe. He had an idea.


The resulting idea is, of course, the Ubuntu Model of donation collection. Andrew Rolfe and the rest of the Ubuntu team decided to start limiting where they acquired their donations from. Lief said, “We now go for high net-worth individuals or family foundations who understand that highly restricted funding isn’t worth our time.” Lief’s point was a great one and it would turn out to be a game changer not just for him and Andrew Rolfe — but the rest of the team at Ubuntu.


The result of this model change was nearly instantaneous. The Ubuntu Fund began limiting donations to just high end individuals who were willing to forego extensive regulation. The Ubuntu Education Fund began to raise money that was going where it needed to go and suddenly more children were being helped in South Africa. Needless to say, Andrew Rolfe and the rest of the team were ecstatic.


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