How Jacob Lief and Andrew Rolfe Are Now Declining Donations With Attached Strings

The Founder and Chief Executive of Ubuntu Education Fund, Jacob Lief, has spent years raising money from rich individuals and foundations. He eventually realized a startling fact; money was coming in but it wasn’t helping the people who’s mission the nonprofit was designed to help. The problem is that most large donors want to many strings attached to their money and also have arbitrary time limits where grants need to be applied for over and over. He, along with the Chairman of the Board of this charity, Andrew Rolfe, decided to start saying no thanks to those donors who placed restrictions on their donations and the charity is in a far better place now.

Ubuntu Education Fund is designed to help disadvantaged children in South Africa’s Port Elizabeth area earn an education and other necessary resources. After Jacob Lief and Andrew Rolfe settled on saying no to restrictions, they now focus on the high-net-worth individuals and foundations that don’t have strings in place. While this change of approach has led to less money being raised it has enabled them to help more children.

Many well-off donors give grants mainly so that they can have buildings and grants named after them. However, as Andrew Rolfe has pointed out, many of the things that cost money can’t have money spent on them due to this such as IT support, training, and the cost of staff. While the money that can be used for general operations has gone up over the last number of years it’s still to little to realistically operate a nonprofit.

In order to make sure that Ubuntu Education Fund and a potential donor are a good match, Jacob Lief and Andrew Rolfe start the discussion early with them on how the money is going to be used. If they can align goals early in the process the outcomes for the children in Port Elizabeth are much higher. This also clears up many disagreements on how the money is going to be spent and makes the donation process and negotiations much simpler and cleaner.


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