Jacob Lief is the founder and CEO of the non profit, Ubuntu Education Fund. The Ubuntu Education Fund has been trying to bring schooling to impoverished, vulnerable and at risk children living in the Port Elizabeth townships of South Africa’s Eastern Cape. The Ubuntu Education Fund has made great strides over the years but Jacob Lief realizes that there are still many more things to do. This is what led Jacob Lief to completely reformat how he approached fundraising and that has, in turn, completely changed how the Ubuntu Fund is operating.
The Ubuntu Model as it has come to be known is a revolutionary new approach to finding benefactors to support non profits. Jacob Lief came up with the idea after attending a speaking engagement in Davos for the World Economic Forum. It was at this moment that he realized he wasn’t doing enough. Lief says, “It was nonsense. The money was flowing in but we weren’t changing people’s lives.” This was a key moment to the changes that would soon follow. Most people don’t realize it, but non profits are beholden to massive regulations that can prevent them from making real and lasting changes on their targeted objectives.
So Jacob Lief went to Andrew Rolfe as well as the rest of the board at Ubuntu. Andrew Rolfe himself is a benefactor who has donated almost $100,000 over the past five years. Andrew Rolfe and the rest of the board quickly bought into what Jacob Lief was suggesting. Lief’s new focus was simple. Lief says, “We now go for high net-worth individuals or family foundations who understand that highly restricted funding isn’t worth our time.” Focusing on these high end benefactors, while risky, was definitely an improvement despite the fact that their budget would shrink.
High quality investors that allow the Ubuntu Education Fund to focus on delegating their donations as they see fit is a completely revitalized model. No longer is the Ubuntu Fund beholden to strict regulations and as a result more and more impoverished children are finally getting the help that they so desperately need in order to find a brighter future.