When Jacob Lief founded the Ubuntu Education Fund he had done so with the thought that he would be making a difference – a big one. The point of the Ubuntu Education Fund was to create a network that could help fund the education of at risk, impoverished, and vulnerable children located in the Port Elizabeth townships of the Eastern Cape in South Africa. This kind of non profit specifically changes lives and it can have a long lasting effect. So, of course Lief wanted to make sure that the Ubuntu Fund was firing on all cylinders.
In order to make sure that the Ubuntu Fund was doing everything possible there would need to be a shake up. Lief approached the board, including super philanthropist Andrew Rolfe, in order to suggest a change in how the company collected donations. Andrew Rolfe and the rest of the crew would soon be on board with what Jacob Lief called the Ubuntu model. The Ubuntu model would turn their non profit into something rare in the industry: a charity that was extremely selective over the donations that they accepted. Now, why would they do that?
If you talked to Andrew Rolfe or Jacob Lief you would end up getting a simple answer. When a non profit accepts donations from a benefactor they routinely are beholden to the funding allocation of the benefactor. To put this even simpler: benefactors can choose how they wish their money to be spent by the non profit. Now imagine you keep getting donations that are earmarked for Project A — but Project B is the one that is underfunded. In this example you would have money on hand but you wouldn’t be able to spend it where it actually matters.
Jacob Lief came to this realization when he was attending the World Economic Forum which was located in Davos. Lief, and soon Andrew Rolfe, would realize that despite all of the money coming in not enough of it was going to where it needed. The Ubuntu model would soon remedy that situation and thus get the charity back on track.