Why Using a Fundraising Thermometer Works


Share this article

Want to bring your fundraising to the next level? Enlist in Boot Camp

Ah, the fundraising thermometer. It’s a classic. Whether you love it or hate it, you can’t deny it’s a staple of the fundraising world. And it’s a staple of the fundraising world because it works.

But why is using a fundraising thermometer so effective? Turns out there are a number of reasons – here are three of them.

Fundraising Thermometers Appeal to Our Preference for Visuals

Humans are visual creatures. We like to see that our work means something. We love the gratification of knowing our effort pays off.

This is why we tell fundraisers to be visual. Share visual stories to stand out on social media! Include images on your donation forms to boost conversion! Use pictures and video in thank-you notes! Donors want to know their gift is helping – show them!

This includes fundraising thermometers, too.

Fundraising thermometers tap into our need for visual confirmation of our work. Seeing our donations cause the thermometer to inch closer to its goal is deeply satisfying. Instant visual gratification is a powerful tool!

This fundraising thermometer from Together for Haiti is strategically placed near the top of their form and includes a countdown that encourages donors to give up to the deadline.

Together for Haiti Fundraising Thermometer for Pastors Training Scholarship Goal

Fundraising Thermometers Give Us a Job to Do

One of the cornerstones of great nonprofit storytelling is to show a donor a problem, then tell them how they can solve it. People want to solve problems.

Using a fundraising thermometer is compelling to donors because it gives them a job to do. This is especially true when they’re used in a campaign with a tangible outcome, like a building project or funding a specific campaign. A fundraising thermometer tells donors, visually, “We need to raise $25,000. We’ve raised $4,000 so far. Help us!”

There are plenty of ways to update donors on progress and lots of methods for establishing a sense of urgency in a campaign. A fundraising thermometer can help reinforce those techniques, making thermometers an especially effective tool for advocacy and awareness campaigns.

VISTE combined their fundraising thermometer and strong impact statements to inspire donors to fund care packages for seniors. As a result, they raised more than they needed for the seniors they serve.

Fundraising Thermometers Make Us Feel Accomplished

We like having jobs to do. We LOVE completing those jobs. And we’re often willing to go the extra mile to get them done.

This is the biggest driver for successful campaigns that use fundraising thermometers. As donors see the thermometer’s progress toward your fundraising goal, they’re driven to help reach that goal – it’s a recipe for engagement. When the goal is achieved, there’s a sense of personal achievement. A big milestone is accomplished – and we helped!

Along with that sense of accomplishment comes a subtle sense of community. Watching a fundraising thermometer’s progress lets donors know that others are involved with the fundraising, too. That social proof is a compelling reason to get involved and can inspire otherwise undecided donors to get involved. It’s why including suggested donation amounts on a donation form inspires larger gifts: we want to give the way our peers give, and seeing our peers give makes us want to be involved.

Think about how effective this sense of accomplishment can be used to encourage participation in school fundraising campaigns. School communities are close-knit, and students are often motivated by healthy competition. If you’re helping plan a school fundraiser, make sure your students, parents, and teachers can find your fundraising thermometer online and on the big screen at any fundraising events you host, like a special school auction or dinner event. That way, they can encourage each other to help the community as a whole meet the overall goal.

World Medical Relief, Inc.’s fundraising thermometer shows their campaign reaching 155% of their fundraising goal. What an accomplishment!

When to Use Fundraising Thermometers

Fundraising thermometers are a great fit for many kinds of campaigns. But in order to make them most effective, consider using them for a very specific project, program, or purpose. This might be a particular peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, walkathon, or golf tournament, for example. A thermometer can help you put together a cohesive campaign with good visuals, a concrete goal, and something tangible to hold up as a result of your fundraising. You can read more about when and how to use fundraising thermometers here.

At Qgiv, we’ve seen our clients run some brilliant campaigns that included a fundraising thermometer. You can learn about our thermometers and progress meters here. You can also give us a call or contact us online if you want to see them in action!

You might enjoy