Fundraising Thermometers: Why They Work [Free Template!]

Fundraising Thermometers: Why They Work [Free Template!]

When it comes to fundraising, nonprofits need all the revenue they can generate. The process can be tricky to master, especially with online fundraising. From setting up an effective donation page to marketing to staying motivated, nonprofits have to stay on top of their campaigning game. Instead of struggling, set yourself up for success with gamification tools like fundraising thermometers!

Here at Snowball, we aim to provide nonprofits with the best fundraising tools on the market so that they can boost their revenue. We’ve seen how powerful fundraising thermometers can be—which is why they’re a favorite fundraising strategy of ours.

To make the most of these useful tools, review the following key components:

If you’re already well versed in what donation trackers are, feel free to use the jump links above to go straight to the section that’s most beneficial to your organization. Otherwise, let’s quickly go over the basics.

What are fundraising thermometers?

Fundraising thermometers are a great motivator for your team and donors.

Fundraising thermometers are tools used in online campaigns to help nonprofits gauge success. Plus, they also motivate donors to give.

Essentially, they’re visual representations of a nonprofit’s campaign progress. More often than not, they look like thermometers. As donations increase, the “temperature” of the thermometer increases accordingly.

A fundraising thermometer is a great representation of how much your campaign has already raised, as well as the extra effort needed to achieve campaign goals.

Other Names for Fundraising Thermometers

When researching nonprofit software, you may come across these synonyms for donation fundraising thermometers:

  • Donation thermometers
  • Goal thermometers
  • Crowdfunding thermometers
  • Fundraising widgets
  • Donation trackers
  • Pledge thermometers

Regardless of what they’re called, they always serve the same purpose: to help raise more money.

Ready to boost your organization’s funds using powerful gamification? Let’s dive right in!


Fundraising Thermometer Template

To revamp your campaign strategy, download this fundraising thermometer template:

Try out this goal thermometer template to enhance your campaign.

Print out the above fundraising thermometer template, recreate it on a flyer or poster, or invest in an online donation tracker to do the job for you.

Before launching your campaign, fill out your campaign goal at the top and any milestone markers along the side. Throughout your campaign, fill in the fundraising thermometer template based on how much money you raise. Then, watch the donations fly in!

To learn about the wide range of benefits of goal thermometers, read on!


Why Fundraising Thermometers Work

Donation trackers are a proven fundraising strategy, but why? What about them drives donations and helps nonprofits reach their revenue goals?

There’s no one surefire reason that fundraising thermometers work. Rather, they rely on a configuration of different motivators. For instance, they do the following:

  • Appeal to our visual senses. Humans are visual creatures. It’s gratifying to see the differences we make. Fundraising thermometers tap into our need for visual confirmation.
  • Keep track of fundraising goals. Not only do fundraising thermometers display your organization’s goals, but they also display the milestones along the way.
  • Show progress to donors. Your staff and board aren’t the only ones who need to track campaign progress. Giving access to donors via a donation tracker provides great motivation!
  • Encourage supporters to give. When donors see that others have already contributed, they’ll be far more likely to give themselves. Additionally, the closer you are to your goal, the more incentivized donors are to give even more.

The bottom line: By using a goal thermometer, you allow your supporters and team to step up their efforts. Donors will be able to see the impact their donations are making in real-time, motivating them to make a difference.

Fundraising Tools that Enhance the Experience

When leveraging a digital fundraising thermometer, ensure that it can integrate with your other giving technology. For instance, check into integrations with the following tech:

  • Text-to give technology allows donors to give using their phones’ texting application. All a donor has to do is text a nonprofit’s designated number with the amount they’d like to give, and voila! They’ve given to their favorite nonprofit (that’s you!). By directly linking your text-to-give campaign to your thermometer, you’ll watch donations rack up.
  • An online giving portal is essentially an online donation page. The key difference is in its connection to other giving avenues. As soon as a donor inputs their info into the online giving portal, they can give via text or email in only 2 clicks. When you combine the shareable quality of an online giving portal with the visual appeal of a thermometer, you’re bound for success.
  • Email fundraising, simply put, is raising money through your existing email campaign. Snowball’s solution for increasing fundraising revenue via email is to include a donation button in the email body. This allows donors to give in just 2 clicks without ever leaving their inboxes. Additionally, when you add another visual element to your emails, you’ll entice your email subscribers to give that much more.

By creating as many avenues to give as possible, you increase your fundraising potential. Plus, those donations will be immediately accounted for with your goal thermometer!


Types of Donation Trackers

Donation trackers have been around for decades and are a proven fundraising method. Before implementing one in your revenue strategy, learn the two main types:

  1. Physical – Before technology was prominent, fundraising thermometers only came in one form: physical. These are typically used in community fundraisers where you display the progress on a large board. As more money is raised, one of your team members continuously fills in the thermometer.
  2. Digital – Used for more modern fundraising, a digital donation tracker updates in real-time. It can be embedded on your website or campaign page. Then, with each donation, it will automatically update.

Whichever donation tracker you use, ensure that it’s branded to your organization with colors, logos, and so on. Also, make sure that you know how to use them in different contexts.

For instance, during campaigns, display the fundraising thermometer in a prominent place. If you’re using a physical goal thermometer, put it where the whole community can see it, such as outside of your office or outside a park along a high-traffic road (with permission, of course). For a digital fundraising thermometer, display it on your eye-catching campaign page or well-designed website.

On the other hand, for live events, put your donation tracker somewhere onsite. For instance, if you’re using a digital thermometer, project it on a presentation screen if possible.

In-kind donations are just as needed as monetary ones. When collecting something other than money, make sure to adjust the amounts accordingly. For instance, during a canned food drive, quantify the amount with the number of cans. Then, fill it accordingly.

For these types of fundraisers, a physical donation tracker may be the way to go. Luckily, the above free fundraising thermometer template gives you room to adjust the amounts.

Why use online goal thermometers?

While a physical donation tracker can be effective, your team will get the best results from a digital thermometer. For instance, digital donation trackers will do the following:

  • Reach larger audiences.
  • Update in real-time.
  • Track donations from all avenues.
  • Be easily shared.
  • Give donors immediate gratification.

Whenever you have a campaign that lasts longer than a day, make sure to leverage a digital thermometer. That way, you can continuously monitor your progress with minimal extra effort (and so can your donors!).

The bottom line: Thermometers that self-update can help your nonprofit keep track of donations that come in from every giving avenue, encouraging donors to give in a way that’s most convenient. Make sure supporters know their impact by using a comprehensive donation tracker.


Best Practices for Fundraising Thermometers

Now that you know the benefits of fundraising thermometers, you should brush up on the best practices. You can invest in the most highly-rated nonprofit software, but it won’t make a difference if you don’t leverage it in a smart way.

To get started with a goal thermometer, consider these effective strategies:

  • Feature it prominently on your website. For instance, upload it to your homepage and any other relevant pages.
  • Remind donors periodically. In order to keep your fundraiser on donors’ minds, send out occasional reminders. Don’t forget to include a link to your thermometer with each update.
  • Include info for supporting your cause. Wherever you feature your fundraising thermometer, be sure to include information about getting involved and donating to your cause.
  • Make it easy to see. To make it viewable by the highest amount of people, use an online thermometer. Make sure to use a readable font and avoid harsh colors.

To determine your goal, start with your intentions. For instance, you may be trying to build a new community center. Do your research and try to figure out exactly how much money the construction will cost.

When you have a concrete goal in mind, it will be much easier to get your donors to jump on board with your fundraiser!

Don’t be surprised if you even exceed your goal. After all, thermometers are extremely motivating! When you meet your final goal in a short amount of time, simply raise the ultimate goal amount.

Doing this is fairly straightforward with an online donation tracker. Simply adjust your thermometer’s settings and announce that your goals have changed due to the generosity of your donors.

Challenge your supporters to go that extra mile! However, don’t make it a habit to raise your goal amount too often.

Where Should You Use An Online Donation Tracker?

Since most fundraising thermometers are digital, it should be fairly easy to copy and paste them into any of your webpages. For instance, have your donation tracker:

  • On your website’s main page
  • On your shareable crowdfunding page
  • Projected on a screen at events
  • On your nonprofit’s donation page

From your nonprofit’s crowdfunding page to the front page of your main website, the possibilities for showcasing and sharing thermometers for your fundraising events are endless!


Get Started with a Fundraising Thermometer

By leveraging a goal thermometer, your team can boost funds substantially. To revamp your event planning strategy, check out Snowball’s tools.

With Snowball Premium, your team will be armed with a plethora of fundraising tools, including:

  • Digital fundraising thermometer
  • Unlimited online donation pages
  • Text-to-give
  • QuickPay buttons in email campaigns
  • All Snowball Basic features

All Snowball customers also receive a giving widget, recurring gifts options, transaction + donor data, 2-click enabled donor list, multi-user dashboard access, full customer support, and bilingual support.

Ready to boost your revenue with these effective fundraising tools?

Sign up now for a digital fundraising thermometer!


Fundraising thermometers may give your organization the boost it needs to reach its revenue goals. From easy setup to a range of benefits, there’s no reason your nonprofit shouldn’t be leveraging one! Remember, if you don’t have access to a digital thermometer, feel free to use our free fundraising thermometer template.

Now that you know the ins and outs of donation trackers, don’t wait; increase your revenue potential now!

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