Category Archives: Eradicating Poverty

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.


Andrew Rolfe and the Ubuntu Fund Find a New Way of Growing

As a blogger who often covers stories pertaining to the non-profit sector, focusing on the current problems facing our society, I thought I had a rather good grip on the way in which non-profits operate. Though, as with all things in life, with a little investigation, I found an unknown problem facing many of the non-profits that operate across the world and within our borders here at home. That being the restrictions and time restraints placed upon non-profit operations, not by government agencies as one might assume, but set by donors who support not only the cause of helping those less fortunate but actively want to see non-profits perform to their peak.


These restrictions are often set in place to ensure that funds are used according to a donor’s wishes while the time restraints are often set as a safeguard against misuse. Though completely well intention, these restrictions are often the most devastating obstacle facing a sector that already has to contend with the likes of hostile parties within foreign countries, plagues, famine, poverty, and fallout from war.


Andre Rolfe and the Ubuntu Fund Free Non-Profits to Expand


The limits set on spending usually come in the form of terms such as allotting money solely for home building or creating scholarships and while sound good, in theory, squash a non-profit’s ability to operate and expand while helping those in need.


Andrew Rolfe and the Ubuntu Fund have taken a new approach to these restrictions. Andrew Rolfe and the rest of the board have decided to pass on donor grants that come with strings attached and have opted instead to cultivate long-term relationships with donors that understand a non-profit needs more than money to build homes or create scholarships to operate.


By freeing up a non-profit to spend funds on things like employee training and outreach for expansion, donors are allowing non-profits to help more people. This revolutionary way of conducting business within the non-profit sector certainly signals a change in the non-profit sector that many charitable organizations may soon follow but that is yet to be seen.


If you would like to learn more about Andrew Rolfe, please click here.