Our research team conducted an extensive study of the philanthropic experience from the donor’s point of view, regardless of the causes supported. The 2014 Donor Experience Study is an independent research initiative sponsored by Crown Philanthropic Solutions, providers of the DonorFirst technology, and Embolden, a digital communications group. This research is designed to help philanthropy learn more about the characteristics of a positive online donor experience and the return on investment it can bring to a philanthropic institution’s mission. The work is part of our clients’ ongoing commitment to provide research and resources to community foundations, donor advised fund providers, and other donor-focused philanthropic institutions to help improve the donor’s experience with philanthropy.

The 2014 Donor Experience Study is organized in two parts:

  • The first part of the report, the 2014 Donor Experience Study Literature Review, is a summary of existing resources. Its purpose is to identify the body of work currently available, designed not only to serve as a useful guide to philanthropy professionals, but also to identify gaps in data that can be addressed in this study and other research that follows.

  • The second part of the 2014 Donor Experience Study, published at www.donorexperienceroi.org, is an analysis of empirical data derived from the participation of more than 100 community foundation professionals and other thought leaders in the industry, through surveys and interviews designed to better understand what makes online philanthropy a positive experience from the donor’s perspective.

Certainly the 2014 Donor Experience Study is the beginning of the conversation, not the end. By equipping philanthropic institutions with tools to affirm, educate, inspire and motivate donors to make a difference through philanthropy in an online environment, the relationship between donors and the beneficiaries of charity would be profoundly and positively changed. The primary take-away from this endeavor is that most of the work to define a powerful donor experience—through authentic engagement online-–is ahead of us.