Category: Finding Donors

The Ubuntu Model and Andre Rolfe

Succeeding in the business world is tough. You have to fight competition, yourself, and the ever changing marketplace. Now imagine how hard it is to succeed as a non profit. All of those problems we mentioned above are magnified by the fact that you rely on generous benefactors to keep your company afloat. Jacob Lief, the founder and chief executive of the Ubuntu Fund, knows firsthand how all of these problems can compound into one big issue. Lief fortunately came up with something most people haven’t gotten to yet: a game changing solution — the Ubuntu Model.


Jacob Lief was speaking at the World Economic Forum when he came to a sudden and swift realization: “It was nonsense. The money was flowing in but we weren’t changing people’s lives.” Lief was speaking, of course, about his work with the Ubuntu Education Fund — a charity that focuses on improving the lives of impoverished children in South Africa. Lief knew that something needed to change and so he approached Andrew Rolfe and the rest of the team on the board. Andrew Rolfe and co were receptive of Lief’s decision to change gears. The Ubuntu Model was growing.


So what exactly IS the Ubuntu Model? Well, Andrew Rolfe and the rest of the group at the Ubuntu Education Fund would put it like this. The Ubuntu Model focuses on streamlining donations by only accepting those from high net worth individuals and well established family foundations. Now, why was this decision made? The Ubuntu Education Fund was running into red tape issues with their benefactors. Donations would come in but they would be tagged to a specific cause that the Ubuntu Fund couldn’t accomplish or didn’t need the money for. As a result the Ubuntu Fund was struggling to keep themselves going despite a surplus of income.


Now Andrew Rolfe would be the first to admit that the Ubuntu Model slows down donations. After all, they are being much more particular about who they accept from. Still, the donations that are coming in can make it exactly where they need o go. This is a profound difference and one that is changing lives.