Donors and well-wishers raise a lot of money for non-profit organizations, but if they do not change lives, it is all meaningless. This is the thought that came to Jacob Lief’s mind regarding his foundation, the Ubuntu Education Fund. The fund is a non-profit organization that assists vulnerable South African children from Port Elizabeth townships of the Eastern Cape to get an education and a better future.
Lief came to this realization because donors often gave their money with strings attached; wanting to control how the money is used. Jacob Lief decided it was time to shift gears and devise a new strategy to safeguard the interests of the children and the cause of his charity. After deliberations with board members, including board chairman Andrew Rolfe, Lief saw it fit to go for family foundations or individuals with a high net-worth. They are better suited as they are sensitive to the cause; after all, high funding with restrictions was not making any difference. Jacob Lief and Andrew Rolfe jointly agreed that a smaller budget would enable the foundation to achieve more.
Andrew Rolfe spearheaded the ‘Ubuntu model,’ which outlines his mission to improve healthcare, social welfare and eliminate institutional obstacles in the Cape Province through plans that help each family. This would indeed prove difficult with demanding donors who want to dictate how funds are spent.
However, if the donors serve on the board, then their mission and sensitivity change as they join the organization’s family. This becomes better if the donor has some professional experience that the foundation can cultivate from. They can work with a philanthropist like Andrew Rolfe to establish policies that will shape and strengthen the foundation. This strategy can go both ways, however, because a lot of time is taken to convince donors to go beyond donating and involve themselves more with the foundation. As a result, less time is taken in actually writing checks for the organization.
Seeing as donors are not the sole decision-makers for the Ubuntu Education Fund Andrew Rolfe and other board members are desisting from chasing checks and focusing on alternatives to fund their charities.