Page Header: Donor Journeys Initiative
A project led by the Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy

Every donor has a journey. Each journey is a story in itself.

These stories matter for better giving, as each twist along the trail can change how donors give, what they value, and how they work for good.

The Donor Journeys Initiative is an integrated suite of events and projects led by the Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy, Michael Moody. Each element is designed to raise questions about how donors learn, what they want and need to take their next steps, and to present analysis of how we can improve donor journeys in ways that lead to more and better giving.

The Work of the Donor Journeys Initiative

Fifth Biennial National Summit on Family Philanthropy: Our Donor Journeys and Why They Matter

The Donor Journeys Initiative kicked off at the National Summit on Family Philanthropy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. in January 2019. This premiere event offered attendees the opportunity to share challenges and wisdom from their own donor experiences.

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Close-up photo of the program from the 2019 National Summit on Family Philanthropy: Our Donor Journeys and Why They MatterSummit Replay: Our Donor Journeys and Why They Matter

Read insightful lessons learned from donors on their personal giving journeys, and watch all three plenary discussions from the 2019 National Summit on Family Philanthropy through Summit Replay.

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Photo of a woman looking off into the distance on a dirt roadGiving Compass Magazine: The Donor Journeys Initiative

The Donor Journeys Initiative and Giving Compass have teamed up to offer an online magazine that curates and collects the very stories, research results, updates, and insights that this project aims to reveal.

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Donor Learning-in-Partnership Research
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The relationship between major donors and their nonprofit partners is becoming even more meaningful given current trends — e.g., the increasing reliance on high-level donors across the sector, and the increasing desire by both sides (and especially among next gen donors) to improve this relationship. Calls for more “participatory” grantmaking and more engaged and responsive giving are well received, but we do not necessarily know how to answer this call.

The Frey Chair will design and lead a new applied research project examining how donor learning can — and should — take place in the context of close partnerships with nonprofits.

Donor Journeys Book
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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
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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. 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.
Toolkit: My Philanthropic Autobiography
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Everyone has a deeper connection to philanthropy than they might realize, and each of us has stories to tell about our own learning and development as a giver. In short, we could all write our own “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.”

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Look for upcoming webinars from the Donor Journeys Initiative featuring experts in the field of family philanthropy — from scholars and wealth advisors to the donors themselves.
Other Potential Collaborations

Do you or your organization have an idea or intriguing question related to family donors’ journeys? Are there other organizations or scholars you are aware of who are currently examining this unique aspect of philanthropy?

Let us know! The Frey Chair is open to new collaboration ideas with other donor education organizations, efforts, and platforms in ways that would benefit both organizations and encourage broader use of lessons and products from the Donor Journeys Initiative.

How You Can Help

Your generous support of the Donor Journeys Initiative will power the work that enables your friends and colleagues to better understand this crucial aspect of family philanthropy. The Johnson Center and Dr. Moody are grateful for your consideration and eager to count you among our partners.

To learn more about how you can support the Initiative, click here.

We are deeply grateful to the generous supporters who have made
the work of the Donor Journeys Initiative possible:

Logo: Frey FoundationLogos of sponsoring organizations