How The Ubuntu Fund Is Doing More With Less

Everyone who has any familiarity with philanthropic work knows that it is no cakewalk, especially if the associated work is taking place in a dangerous or extremely impoverish part of the world. However, the primary roadblock to effective philanthropy is, perhaps rather obviously, funding. What most people do not know is that the real problems begin manifesting themselves after, not before, the money starts coming in. This was a fact that Jacob Lief, the founder and chief executive of the renowned South African philanthropic group, the Ubuntu Fund, learned the hard way after acquiring a great deal of very wealthy donors.

The problem, Mr. Lief discovered, was not the amount of money, which was well sufficient for the fund’s purposes of rebuilding the social fabric and providing much needed infrastructure for Port Elizabeth Township, rather it was what the donors wanted Ubuntu with their money. Lief found that the donors, especially the very wealthy ones, all too often made so many tyrannical impositions upon him and his group that his efficiency was ground to a near total stop.

Therefore, Mr. Lief, alongside the current chairman of the Ubuntu Fund, noted businessman, Andrew Rolfe, decided to try out a entirely new model. This new model completely excluded any and all donations from those who wanted to, effectively, purchase services rather than make real donations to the philanthropic venture. Ever since this new policy was put into place the Ubuntu group now specifically targets only prospective donors who understand that placing heavy restrictions upon their funding only hampers, rather than helps. Thus, by accepting far less money, the company is able to move more freely and thus effect change in Port Elizabeth faster and more effectively. It was so successful that it has become known in the philanthropic world as the “Ubuntu Model.”


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