Jacob Lief, the chief executive officer and founder of Ubuntu Education Fund realized that, even after spending huge amounts of money in the non-profit foundation, they were not changing the lives of people. While addressing an annual meeting in Davos, he stated that the money was flowing but there nothing big to show. It was the same statement echoed by Andrew Rolfe, the chairman of the board of directors some time back. The institution assists needy children in Port Elizabeth’s townships in Cape Province, South Africa. Lief highlighted the urgency to change the strategy under which the NGO operated. He added that donors who supported the institution but came with restrictions would not be allowed. Such donors insisted on how the money should be spent rather than finding the most appropriate ways of supporting the children.
According to Lief, they were now targeting family foundations and high net-worth individuals who comprehend that highly restricted funds don’t offer significant help. He insisted the organization’s budget was now smaller and they even expect“ to achieve more. The organization through what is referred as “Ubuntu model,” operates closely with communities and families to establish individual strategies for every child with health, stability, and education. Those are the basic needs to keep the needy children from poverty. However, Andrew Rolfe insisted that getting donors who are ready to offer financial help without strings attached was not easy. As explained by Lief, by determining how the funds are used, donors come with various kinds of opinions. For instance, others want their donation to be used on specific programs while some demand to have input on the overall strategy and the management operations of the organization.
Serving on the non-profit board of the organization permits donors to have their say on the organization’s operations but also comes with demerits. According to Andrew Rolfe, that can be beneficial, especially if the donor has vital professional experience. The demerit is that it can create some pressure too. It’s a double-edged sword as you spend more time cultivating wealthy donors to do more than check writing. Andrew Rolfe reminded that even if donors don’t join the board or get personally involved in shaping the organization’s strategy, the terms of their donations can bring restrictions in the way cash is utilized.