Fundraising Thermometer Best Practices + Free Template!

A fundraising thermometer allows you to track goals and engage with donors. Check out our free template and best practices to boost your fundraising strategy!
Check out our free fundraising thermometer template and best practices.

Fundraising is a tricky process to master. From setting up an effective donation page and launching a marketing campaign to staying motivated until the end of each fundraiser, nonprofits have to stay on top of their campaigning game. Set yourself up for success with tools like fundraising thermometers!

Here at Snowball, we 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 valuable tools, review the following key components:

If you’re already well versed in what donation trackers are, feel free to jump to the section that’s most beneficial to your organization. Otherwise, let’s start with the basics. 

What is a fundraising thermometer?

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What is a fundraising thermometer?

Fundraising Thermometer FAQs

What is a fundraising thermometer?

Fundraising thermometers are tools used in online campaigns to help nonprofits measure their success. Additionally, they provide a visual representation of a nonprofit’s campaign progress, which motivates donors to give.

More often than not, they look like thermometers. As donations increase, the “temperature” of the thermometer increases accordingly. 

For most people, donation totals in the thousands can be rather difficult to envision. Fundraising thermometers make otherwise abstract totals such as how much your campaign raised and how much you need to achieve your campaign goals clear at a single glance.

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

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

Regardless of what they’re called, fundraising thermometers are a helpful tool for your campaigns because they provide a useful visual for your team and your donors alike.

When should you use a fundraising goal tracker?

Donation trackers have been around for decades and are a proven fundraising method that can be adapted to meet your nonprofit’s needs. 

To start, fundraising thermometers can come in two formats: 

  • Physical. Nonprofit technology has come a long way, but before fundraising software was widely available, 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.
  • Digital. Used in more modern fundraising, digital donation trackers update in real-time. They can be embedded on your website, campaign page, or almost anywhere your supporters will check in on your fundraisers. With each donation, your digital fundraising thermometer will update to reflect the contribution automatically. 

These thermometers can then be tailor-fit to your specific campaign. For instance, during long-running campaigns, display your fundraising thermometer in a prominent place that will see a lot of either physical or digital traffic. If you’re using a physical fundraising thermometer, with permission, place it where the whole community can see it, such as outside of your office or outside a park along a high-traffic road. For digital fundraising thermometers, post them on your eye-catching campaign page or
well-designed website.

By contrast, for live events, put your donation tracker somewhere onsite. For instance, you can keep your digital thermometer visible on a presentation screen during galas, concerts, and other events with a stage or central location that draws attention.

What are the benefits of fundraising thermometers? 

Fundraising thermometers drive donations and help nonprofits reach their revenue goals. Here’s why these fundraising tools work: 

1. Fundraising thermometers appeal to our visual senses.

Humans are visual creatures. Simply hearing that a campaign is a third of the way towards its fundraising goal can often mean the same as if it were a fifth or a seventh. Visual representations help fill this gap in understanding and can demonstrate just how much your campaign is earning, driving excitement. 

Not to mention, It’s gratifying to see the differences we make. Fundraising thermometers tap into our need for visual confirmation.

2. Fundraising thermometers keep track of fundraising goals.

Setting goals is essential for compelling and organized fundraising. Particularly successful fundraisers even set stretch goals that can be earned after reaching their initial goal. 

Dividing your fundraiser into goals helps motivate supporters to continue giving, especially if you have a fundraising thermometer showing how close they are to unlocking the next milestone. This helps gamify the giving process, providing donors with something new and exciting every so often during your campaign. After all, once one goal is reached, they’ll want to see the thermometer climb all the way to the next one. 

3. Fundraising thermometers show progress and impact to donors.

Whether your fundraiser takes place over several days or happens all in one night, your donors should be able to check in on how close you are to reaching your goal. A fundraising thermometer makes a donor’s impact feel concrete, even before their funds are actually put to use. 

Remember that donors are making an investment in your nonprofit when they give, which means they want to see you succeed and reach your fundraising goal. Fundraising thermometers provide a transparent and engaging way for donors to check in on your progress, motivating them to continue giving and get their friends and family involved. 

4. Fundraising thermometers encourage giving through social proof.

Donating is a more social activity than you might assume. Donors want to give to campaigns that are likely to succeed and already have momentum. Fundraising thermometers visually indicate that others are giving, and watching your thermometer climb in real-time shows that supporters are actively participating.

When donors see that others have already contributed, they’ll be far more likely to give themselves. Then, when you start getting close to your goal, even if there isn’t much time left in your fundraiser, donors will be incentivized to give more to push your campaign forward.

What are the benefits of fundraising thermometers?

Best Practices for Fundraising Thermometers

Fundraising thermometers can lead to all of the benefits and advantages described in this article, but only if they’re appropriately leveraged. Highly-rated nonprofit software and fundraising tools can help, but mastering how to use a fundraising thermometer ultimately comes down to you and your team using the most effective strategies possible, including:

Feature your fundraising thermometer in prominent locations.

Supporters shouldn’t have to go looking for your fundraising thermometer. You can easily add digital thermometers to your campaign webpages, so make sure to display them front and center on your website’s home page, your shareable crowdfunding page, and your nonprofit’s donation page. 

Pay close attention to your thermometer’s design. 

Avoid harsh colors, and ensure the font is readable. Some fundraising thermometers make the mistake of putting text inside their thermometer, causing it to become illegible once your donors surpass your written totals. Place text outside the part of your image you intend to color or use proper outlining and color contrast between your text and color choices.

Regularly update and remind donors.

Your fundraising thermometer generates excitement, but only if supporters know about it. Keep your fundraiser in the front of your donors’ minds by sending regular updates throughout your campaign linking to your thermometer. These can be reminder emails to donors who have already contributed once or posts on your social media account to keep your wider supporter base updated. 


Sharing your progress on social media also gives your supporters a chance to spread your campaign further by commenting on your posts or sharing it on their own pages. During fundraising events like Giving Tuesday use hashtags to attract attention from an even wider audience using your social media platforms.

Include information for supporting your cause.

A great fundraising thermometer should be backed by a great cause, and most donors do need more motivation than simply seeing numbers go up to make a contribution. 

Wherever you display your fundraising thermometer, be sure to include information about what your cause is, why it matters, and what donated funds will go to support. You can also attract additional support by providing information for donors on how to get involved further with your nonprofit by volunteering, subscribing to your newsletter, attending upcoming events, and more.

Free Fundraising Thermometer Template

Free Fundraising Thermometer Template

If you’re looking to revamp your campaign strategy, consider downloading our free fundraising thermometer template. Your organization can print it out and display it on a poster, or use it as inspiration for making your own online fundraising thermometer. 


Before launching your campaign, be sure to 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.

Get Started with Snowball’s Fundraising Thermometer

While physical thermometers can still be practical fundraising tools, technology has marched on, and, in most cases, digital trackers will offer your team and your donors more benefits. By going digital, your team will be able to build a sense of momentum for your campaign in real-time, allowing supporters across time zones to tune into your campaign for live updates. 

The easiest way to get started with a digital fundraising thermometer is by investing in donation software that integrates with other giving technology, such as:

  • Text-to-Give Technology: Text-to-give allows supporters to donate from the convenience of their phones. It’s an especially effective method of giving when done at events where supporters are surrounded by other donors pulling out their phones. By directly linking your text-to-give campaign to your thermometer, they’ll be able to watch donations rack up as soon as they press send.
  • Online Giving Portal: When donors enter their information into an online giving portal, they can donate via text or email in seconds. The shareable quality of an online giving portal combined with the visual appeal of a thermometer will set your organization up for success.
  • Donation Management System: Fundraising thermometers need to get information about incoming donations from somewhere, and more often than not, it will be your central donation management system. This allows your team to monitor all donations behind the scenes. 

Snowball offers these integrations and more. Our team of professional fundraisers will streamline the giving process and provide your organization with more avenues for giving. For instance, donors who give through your text-to-give number might get excited by your fundraising thermometer nearing its goal and share your donation portal with friends and family. Those donations will be immediately accounted for with your goal thermometer!

Try a demo of the Snowball fundraising suite to see thermometers and more engagement-boosting tools in action.

Additional Fundraising Thermometer Resources 

Fundraising thermometers can give your organization the boost it needs to reach its revenue and engagement goals. With its easy setup and full range of benefits, there’s no reason your nonprofit shouldn’t be leveraging this powerful tool! Remember, if you don’t have access to a thermometer, feel free to use our free fundraising thermometer template.

Of course, fundraising thermometers don’t earn donations by themselves. Throw an event or get creative with your fundraising projects to watch your thermometer climb. Here are a few resources that can help you kick off your next fundraiser:

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Get in touch with us to take a tour of the Snowball platform and find the right fundraising solutions for your nonprofit.

Get in touch with us to take a tour of the Snowball platform and find the right fundraising solutions for your nonprofit.