Jacob Lief, founder and CEO of the Ubuntu Education Fund told Financial Times that while speaking at a charity function in Davos, he had an epiphany. “The money was flowing in,” he said, “But we weren’t changing lives.” That was when he decided that the Fund, which helps orphaned children in South Africa, needed a new strategy.
In an unprecedented move, the Fund – founded in 1999- started saying “no” to donors who came with strings attached. The money was meant to be spent helping those in need, and that is what he was determined to do. The new strategy involved going after family foundations and high net-worth individuals who understand that highly restrictive donations aren’t worth his time.
Finding a donor who is prepared to give money without any strings attached can be difficult for a nonprofit. Many people who donate significant amounts of money feel that their donation should buy them control over how a nonprofit spends its funds, or how it is managed. Some even go so far as to make demands from beyond the grave by leaving stipulations in their will. What charities need is ongoing support without restrictions so they can spend money freely on what the nonprofit needs, rather than on what the donor wants. Lief found that in his Chairman of the Board of Directors, Andrew Rolfe.
Andrew Rolfe, who holds the same values and beliefs as Lief, has been the chairman of the Board of Directors since 2007. Rolfe felt, as Lief did, that the underprivileged orphans of South Africa would be better served by no-strings-attached donations, and has made it his mission while on the board, to help develop education programs, build safe housing, and make sure there is a sustainable model for living. Andrew Rolfe attends many of the nonprofit galas and functions, networking, and developing new sponsorship for the Ubuntu Education Fund’s mission.