How to Use a Fundraising Thermometer – For Nonprofits

How to Use a Fundraising Thermometer – For Nonprofits

Fundraising is both an art and a science, and nonprofits nowadays have to stay on their toes when it comes to fundraising strategies and tools.

How to Use a Fundraising Thermometer

We’ve discussed a multitude of different nonprofit fundraising ideas before, from events to offering plates, but we have always highlighted the importance of digital campaigns.

For most nonprofits, online fundraising pages have become essential. And an online fundraising page is not complete without a fundraising thermometer.

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

1. 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.


2. Why are Fundraising Thermometers Important?

2.1. Help Motivate Fundraisers to Reach the Overall Goal

Your fundraisers (especially your board and staff) will be more motivated to fundraise thanks to a visible tracker of progress, and your donors will be able to see the impact their donations are making (especially since the thermometer automatically raises as donations flood in).

2.2. Track the 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. This makes digital fundraising thermometers an internal tool as well, in addition to it being used externally to encourage giving.

2.3. Encourage Supporters to Give

When supporters see that others have already contributed to a particular cause, they’ll be far more likely to donate themselves. This is the same logic that applies to fashion trends. If we see others jumping on board for something, we are more likely to join in. To spice it up, you could ensure “gift matching” to really make the campaign outstanding!

Nonprofit fundraising

3. Why do Fundraising Thermometers Work?

3.1. Fundraising Goals are Clear & Visible.

Goals are more likely to be achieved if donors can clearly see the fundraising progress 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.

3.2. Immediate Gratification Works.

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

3.3. Success Attracts.

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

4. 10 Tips for Using Fundraising Thermometers On Your Website Effectively

4.1. Plan your Campaign.

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

Understand what exactly you’re fundraising for, what your financial goal is, and then plan a campaign launch.

Create compelling content and craft your marketing strategy.

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

4.2. Recruit Core 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 the wider audience.

As mentioned before, people are attracted to success.

4.3. Feature your Charity Thermometer.

Make sure your donation 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.

4.4. Make it “easy on the eye”.

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

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

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

4.5. Remind Your 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.

4.6. Showcase the Impact.

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

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

4.7. 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.

4.8. Move Your Charity Goalpost.

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

In that case, feel free to move your fundraising goalpost and announce that your goals have changed due to the generosity of your donors. Don’t do this more than once or twice during one fundraising campaign.

4.9. Create a Donor Roll.

A great way to increase donations and 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.

4.10. Track Donations across the Board.

Seemingly self-evident, this tip is invaluable.

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.

Ensure that your fundraising thermometer can juggle all of this information simultaneously.


5. Why Make a Donation Thermometer Online?

Physical fundraising thermometer
Physical fundraising thermometer

Donation thermometers can be created “offline” too. And you can get very creative with them. If for instance, you are raising money for breast cancer research, the phrase could be: “Please help us raise money to help prevent and cure breast cancer.” If your group is raising funds for travel expenses, creating a roadmap is the perfect way to track your progress.

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.

6. How Donation Thermometers Helped Others

Operation Love International has managed to secure a partnership with a local food company that will essentially double the value of their donation if they can raise at least $6,000.

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. Donors also like seeing the bar move closer to the target after their donation. It’s a very satisfying experience for their donors.

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

In the donation form editor, you need to click on the ‘Amount Setup’ tab. Afterwards, you should type in the goal amount for the campaign (as seen in the image below).

Donorbox offers a ton of different features that make a big difference to a nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. From integrated employer donation matching, custom colors for your donation forms, to after donation tracking and pdf invoices,


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.

If you are strategic about your campaign, intentional about your strategies, and you follow the tips above, you can reap the benefits of donation thermometers: ignited excitement, increased commitment, and more donations.

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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