If you have ever ran a business then you likely know just how hard it can be to navigate the different red tape that surrounds your work. Now imagine that red tape is amplified and you have an inkling of what goes on behind a non-profit. Andrew Rolfe is a chairman on the board of the Ubuntu Fund and his work alongside Jacob Lief has been inspiration and life changing to say the least. The Ubuntu Model is a new way of sculpting donations for a non profit to use to their best needs.
If you take a look at Jacob Lief and Andrew Rolfe’s work with the Ubuntu Education Fund then you will no doubt start to see what is so interesting about their work. For most non profit companies the goal is to raise as much money as possible in order to benefit their chosen cause. Unfortunately, and this was something Andrew Rolfe and Lief learned the hard way, this sort of model lends itself to a red tape laden nightmare. Donors like to have some measure of control over where their money goes after they donate it and that leads to heavy restrictions and regulations. Lief points to a moment at the World Economic Forum where he realized, “The money was flowing in but we weren’t changing people’s lives.”
Now Andrew Rolfe and the rest of the board are focused primarily on working tightly with high income donors and independent family foundations. The point of this change was simple and Lief summed it up as such, “Highly restricted funding isn’t worth our time.” Despite the well meaning donations of these larger donation campaigns, the money was getting caught up and failing to be delivered. A change was necessary and it is clear why the crew shifted gears toward the Ubuntu Model.
There are many different kinds of donors out there and it takes a savvy leader to understand who to cater to. Some donors don’t join the board, others force the board to follow a set of rules regarding their money, and the special few out there just let the non profit do their job.