Donor Journeys

Donor Journeys
Every donor has a journey.
Every giving family has a story to tell about their philanthropic path and past. While these experiences are shared across family philanthropy in many ways, no two donor journeys are exactly alike.

A donor’s journey deeply influences that donor’s giving, values, strategies, knowledge, skills, and ultimately, impact. As a field, we need to learn more about what goes into a successful donor journey, and actively share these lessons with family donors of every sort.

The Donor Journeys Initiative is an integrated suite of projects produced by the Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy over several years. Each element of the initiative looks to evaluate and analyze donor journeys, advancing family philanthropy’s understanding and maximization of diverse donor journeys in specific and complementary ways.

The Donor Journeys Initiative

This initiative is led by the Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy, Michael Moody. As more work is completed on this initiative, more articles, research reports, and other resources will be added to this collection.

The Donor Journeys Initiative includes a number of other planned projects and products, including:


Donor Journeys Book

Work on the Donor Journeys Initiative book is already underway. The project features stories from a diverse set of donors chronicling their unique journeys and the real-world lessons they’ve learned along the way. The book will provide practical guidance for donors on their own journeys and draw connections through common questions, challenges, and successes.

Donor Journeys Case Study

The Frey Chair will research and write a case study of a family or community foundation that has committed itself to donor learning in a sustained way, and that can be used to draw lessons for the field. Topics/themes can include: Next gen learning and life-long trustee learning, learning with peers, the benefits and costs of different learning vehicles, or other dynamics. This case study would be used for teaching and professional development, research/scholarship, field learning, and more. It would also be integrated into other Johnson Center learning platforms as appropriate, such as, The Grantmaking School, and The Foundation Review.

Toolkit: My Philanthropic Autobiography

Building on informal exercises conducted over several years, past writing about the topic, and new innovations in designing tools for personal reflection, the Frey Chair will develop and formalize an engaging and user-friendly tool for donors of all sorts called “My Philanthropic Autobiography.”


Webinars are an ideal platform to explore more specific or small-scale questions, findings, individual family scenarios, and more, and the Johnson Center’s platforms already have a growing national and international audience of family philanthropists, field-wide professionals, and thought leaders. Over the course of the initiative, the Frey Chair will develop and produce three webinars concentrating on issues raised by donors participating in the initiative, findings from new donor learning research, and other topics of interest and use to the broader philanthropic field.

Support the Donor Journeys Initiative.

In this time of great and generational change, we need to learn more blazing a successful path and to actively share these lessons with family donors of every sort.