Nonprofits use fundraising thermometers to visualize campaign progress.

Fundraising Thermometer Basics – Nonprofit Catalog

Whether you’re a seasoned nonprofit professional or a newcomer launching your first fundraiser, you have to think of creative strategies to encourage active participation in your fundraising campaigns. One popular method of keeping donors engaged is adding gamification elements to your fundraiser. After all, who doesn’t love a little friendly competition?

We’ll break down the basics of an essential and effective gamification tool: fundraising thermometers. Learn how you can incorporate them into your donor communication strategy to help you increase participation and raise more funds.

What is a fundraising thermometer?

A fundraising thermometer is a graphic that nonprofits create to visualize fundraising progress and motivate supporters to donate to a campaign. These simple, colorful thermometer graphics show a fundraising campaign’s goal and how close your nonprofit is to reaching it. 

While some online fundraising platforms are equipped with virtual thermometers that update automatically based on your progress, you can also easily create one on your own using a template. 

How to use a fundraising thermometer 

Fundraising thermometers are popular tools for encouraging donor engagement because they’re so easy to make, update, and share. Follow these simple steps to create your own:

  1. Set your fundraising goal. Your exact donation goal should appear at the top of the graphic to give supporters a clear indication of how many more donations you need. Be sure to set a realistic goal that inspires supporters to give more, rather than an overly-ambitious goal that may discourage them.
  2. Design your thermometer thoughtfully. Make your design eye-catching and inviting, but keep it straightforward. Donors should be able to get a sense of your progress with one quick glance. Consider using our example fundraising thermometer template below to make your own.
  3. Update and share it with supporters! If you don’t use an automated tool, ensure that you manually update your fundraising thermometer on a regular basis. Then, share major updates across communication channels to keep the momentum going.
Use our example fundraising thermometer template or get inspired to design your own.

You can use fundraising thermometers for both long term campaigns and one-time events. Use your thermometer to provide consistent progress updates for long term campaigns, or showcase a virtual thermometer with live updates at your event. Either way, spread excitement about your progress and celebrate milestones.  

Fundraising thermometer best practices

The simplicity of fundraising thermometer graphics leaves plenty of room for creativity. As you experiment with design elements, however, follow these best practices to ensure you make the most of your thermometer’s potential:

  • Align your thermometer with your organization’s branding. Design your fundraising thermometer using the same colors, font, and logo that you use in other communications. When your thermometer matches your brand, you’ll be able to seamlessly incorporate it into your marketing materials. 
  • Keep it simple. Stick to the essential elements: your end goal, current funds raised, and the visual progress bar. 
  • Share your graphic across marketing channels. Post your fundraising thermometer on your social media accounts, include it in your newsletter, and send it directly to donors via email. The more eyes you get on your thermometer, the more supporters you can inspire to give!
  • Encourage social sharing when supporters donate. Let your donors showcase their support and widen your nonprofit’s reach by sharing the graphic on social media.  

After you try out your first fundraising thermometer, gather feedback from supporters to gauge how effective it was. Then, use that information to tailor the design for your next fundraiser and create an even more engaging experience for donors.

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