Everton 2 Sunderland 0
Donovan is on a 10-week loan from LA Galaxy and his effort plus a fifth goal of the season from Tim Cahill were enough to stretch Everton's unbeaten league run to nine games.
The defeat leaves the Black Cats with just one win from their last 11 matches and after a toothless display on Merseyside, boss Steve Bruce will be a worried man.
The Toffees' evening got off to the perfect start when Australia midfielder Cahill opened the scoring after just six minutes.
Marouane Fellaini chipped in a cross and Cahill rose highest to flick the ball past Black Cats keeper Craig Gordon.
Cahill showed off his impressive aerial prowess again 12 minutes later after leaping highest to head expertly into Donovan's path, with the American making no mistake to make it 2-0.
Everton might have made it three after 24 minutes, but this time Leon Osman fired just wide with a left-footed shot from just outside the box.
As the Toffees threatened to run riot, Osman again went close just after the half hour but Sunderland keeper Gordon made a comfortable save.
The Everton show continued right up until the half-time whistle with a Leighton Baines free-kick after a foul on Fellaini testing Gordon after 43 minutes.
Any thoughts of a Black Cats' revival were quickly put to bed after the break with Osman firing wide from distance after 50 minutes.
A rare Sunderland foray down field a minute later resulted in Lorik Cana having a sight of goal but the Albania midfielder failed to test Tim Howard in the Everton goal.
Osman continued his busy evening with another wayward effort after 67 minutes before in demand Sunderland frontman Kenwyne Jones blazed wide 12 minutes later.
Sunderland exerted some late pressure as they searched for a consolation but they couldn't carve out a clear-cut chance as they failed to stop the rot on Merseyside.