Consistent with the entrepreneurial energy that has driven Paul and Natalie Orfalea’s philanthropy since the formation of the Orfalea Family Foundation in 2000, the frenetic pace has not slackened during the final months of The Orfalea Fund, which will sunset at the end of 2015.
Coworkers at the Orfalea Foundation (which administers the fund) have been busy cataloging lessons to share with other aspiring change-makers. The fall issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review includes “The Power of Philanthropic Partnerships,” a 24-page supplement about the Orfalea Fund’s unique and impactful approach to early childhood education, school food reform, and disaster readiness.
The magazine supplement includes articles about choosing the right partners for school food reform, the role of philanthropy in disaster readiness, and how Santa Barbara County preschools came to achieve accreditation at eight times the state average. In addition to pieces written by Natalie Orfalea and foundation staff, the supplement also features contributions from Susie Buffett of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, Robert Ottenhoff and Regine Webster of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Peter Karoff of The Philanthropic Initiative, and Jessica Donze Black of The Pew Charitable Trusts.
At the same time, the Orfalea Foundation has launched a revised website (www.OrfaleaFoundation.org) focused on the same topics, offering tools and briefings on key elements of its work in the community, describing the initial challenge and approach, adaptations required, impact in the community, and structures created to assure continuity after the fund sunsets.
“We believe our partnership experiences are worth sharing, and we know that other philanthropists and non-profits could benefit from what we learned and how we learned it,” said Orfalea Foundation President Lois Mitchell. “We hope others find value in the stories of our initiatives, and use them as a point of departure for their own innovation.”
Both the Stanford Social Innovation Review supplement and Orfalea Foundation website also include an extensive look at the process of sunsetting a philanthropic fund, which has become a major trend as a new generation of entrepreneurs reshapes philanthropy with a “giving-while-living” model.
Coincident with the sunset of The Orfalea Fund, Paul and Natalie Orfalea have dissolved the Orfalea Family Foundation and are launching independent foundations to continue pursuing their individual interests in philanthropy. The new foundations are in their formative stages and are not accepting proposals or embarking on new ventures at this time.
As Natalie Orfalea explains, “The work of philanthropy is never done. But when there’s real progress underway — when the White House advances early childhood education; when a culture of school food reform is the new normal in districts nationwide; when the work takes on a life of its own — then the entrepreneur is ready to take on a different challenge, and begin work anew. Our philanthropy will continue, but the time of The Orfalea Fund and the Orfalea Family Foundation has come to a close. We are extremely grateful that our partners have taken up the work of early childhood education, school food reform, youth development, and disaster readiness, and we are pleased to share the lessons of our experience through the Stanford Social Innovation Review and OrfaleaFoundation.org.”