How to Use a Fundraising Thermometer – For Nonprofits

Online fundraising pages are a must-have for most non-profits, as are the tools - such as goal thermometers - that can be implemented on these digital forms. In this article, we’ll share why fundraising thermometers are important as well as why and how they work to encourage additional donations and raise more money.

4 minutes read
How to Use a Fundraising Thermometer – For Nonprofits

How to Use a Fundraising Thermometer

For most nonprofits, online fundraising pages have become essential. And an online fundraising page is not complete without a fundraising thermometer. No matter how creative and fun your fundraising ideas are, without a goal thermometer, your supporters would never know how far they’ve helped you reach. 

Often underutilized, fundraising thermometers (otherwise also known as donation thermometers, goal thermometers, crowdfunding thermometers, donation trackers, or fundraising trackers) are fundamental to online fundraising campaigns. Their ultimate goal is to help raise more money for your nonprofit.

What is a Fundraising Thermometer?

A fundraising thermometer measures progress towards a fundraising goal.

In most cases, an online fundraising thermometer looks like a thermometer.

As donations increase, the “temperature” of the thermometer increases accordingly.


Many online fundraising tools offer a free fundraising thermometer. So, you should definitely look for this feature when it comes to choosing one.

Why are Fundraising Thermometers Important?

1. Help motivate fundraisersYour fundraisers (especially your board and staff) will be more motivated to fundraise thanks to a visible fundraising thermometer, and your donors will be able to see the impact their donations are making.

2. Track fundraising goals Fundraising thermometers track donations that come in from various giving avenues (e.g. online, email, text-to-give) and self-update to help your nonprofit track its fundraising goals. 

3. Encourage supportersWhen supporters see that others have already contributed to a particular cause (thanks to your fundraising thermometer), they’ll be far more likely to donate themselves. 

Why Fundraising Thermometers Work.

1. Goals are Clear & Visible.

Goals are more likely to be achieved if donors can clearly see the fundraising progress on a fundraising thermometer and they can easily visualize their impact.

Furthermore, most people in the world respond positively to visuals (images and videos).

Visuals are also more shareable.

This means that donors are far more likely to share your donation link if it includes an immediately recognizable image like a thermometer.

2. Immediate Gratification Works.

Seeing the fundraising thermometer rise gives donors a rush of instant gratification, making them more likely to give again.

3. Success Attracts.

Everyone likes to be a part of something that’s successful and working. Donation thermometers paint that picture to donors. 

10 Tips for Using Fundraising Thermometers

1. Plan your Campaign.

Before even thinking about installing a fundraising thermometer, make sure you plan your campaign.

Create compelling content and craft your marketing strategy.

Remember, you need to lead people to your fundraising thermometer, even if it sometimes can be used as a tool on its own.

2. Recruit Supporters.

Prior to installing your fundraising thermometer, work on recruiting supporters for your campaign.

Send emails and call your current and previous volunteers, friends, and supporters of the organization, staff, past fundraisers, etc).

The idea is to generate momentum and create a sense of progress before launching the campaign (and revealing the thermometer) to a wider audience.

As mentioned before, people are attracted to success.

3. Feature Charity Thermometer.

Make sure your fundraising thermometer widget is featured prominently on your website and any other pages that have to do with your fundraiser.

If you’re organizing a fundraising event, project the large fundraising thermometer on a big screen to encourage giving.

4. Make it “easy on the eye”.

To get the most out of your fundraising goal thermometer, especially if you feature it prominently, make it easy on the eye.

Don’t use harsh or bright colors (like yellow) on your fundraising thermometer and use sans serif fonts.

Be sure to include relevant information about how supporters can donate.

5. Remind Supporters.

Send out occasional reminders to your donors and supporters.

Make sure to include a link to your donation thermometer in the email.

As you reach different milestones (you’re $500 away, $100, etc.), make the announcements on your social media channels and via emails to point out the rising thermometer.

6. Showcase Impact.

Show where each donation amount will go (e.g. “this will provide 6 children with stationery”).

Donors appreciate knowing where their donations are going and how they’re making an impact.

7. Make it Shareable.

Make sure to feature links to all social media channels you are present on in order to make it easy for donors to share the donation thermometer.

8. Move Goalpost.

Since live fundraising thermometers are very motivating, it can happen that you not only hit your fundraising goals but bust through them.

In that case, feel free to move your fundraising goalpost. Don’t do this more than once or twice during one fundraising campaign.

9. Create a Donor Roll.

A great way to make the most out of your fundraising thermometer is to create a donor roll.

A donor roll is a list of donors, visible on your landing page next to your donation thermometer.

The donor roll can also be “live”, showcasing donations as they happen. This makes donors feel good and inspires potential donors to give as well.

10. Track all Donations.

A donation thermometer loses a lot of its usefulness if you’re not tracking donations coming in from multiple sources: text-to-give, online, email, and more.

Why Make It Online?

Physical fundraising thermometer

Donation thermometers can be created “offline” too. And you can get very creative with them. 

However, having your donation thermometer online has its advantages. It can reach larger audiences, you don’t have to update it manually, you can track donations flooding in from various sources more easily, and you can reach donors in more distant geographical locations.

And if you think that to add an online goal thermometer, you’d be needing a graphic designer or HTML code knowledge, then no! Some tools (including Donorbox) make it as easy as just entering the goal amount at the backend, and your goal meter will show up on your page.


Tarjimly uses Donorbox’s free fundraising thermometer alongside the Donorbox donation form on its donation page to inspire people to help them reach their goals.

So far, they have reported that donors have been more encouraged to give, being able to see how close they are to meeting the target.

If you would like to upgrade your fundraising efforts, get a Donorbox free fundraising thermometer. Setting it up is really easy.

In the donation form editor, you need to click on the ‘Amount Setup’ tab. Afterward, you should type in the goal amount for the campaign.


A fundraising thermometer is a simple-to-install and effective fundraising tool. It can seamlessly fit into a variety of campaigns, regardless of the size and the mission of your nonprofit. And with Donorbox, you get a free fundraising thermometer with every campaign you create.

Sign up for Donorbox here and get started!

Ilma Ibrisevic is a content creator and nonprofit writer. She’s passionate about meaningful work, sustainability, and social movements. If she’s not working, she’s obsessing over coffee or cooking. You can connect with her on Linkedin.

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