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4 Ways to Raise More with a Fundraising Thermometer


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Published May 8, 2023 Reading Time: 6 minutes

The closer you are to your goal, the more likely people will give. One study showed that donors who were 66% of the way to a fundraising goal gave much greater contributions than those who were below 33% of a fundraising goal, for example.¹

That’s the abbreviated version of the goal proximity effect, which fuels the psychology behind why fundraising thermometers lead to more donations.

While it’s already clear how effective a goal thermometer can be, have you ever wondered if you use it to its full potential?

You’re about to dive into a full breakdown that will leave you feeling more confident in setting and achieving your donor acquisition, conversion, and retention goals with the added support of a fundraising thermometer.

How Do Fundraising Thermometers Work?

The term fundraising thermometer can refer to many different things. Most commonly, nonprofits will have access to a few options through fundraising software that visualizes for donors your progress toward a goal. We’ll cover three that are highly impactful in helping you raise more.

Types of Donation Thermometers

1. Campaign Fundraising Progress Bar 

A campaign fundraising progress bar is a goal tracker that showcases how much you’ve raised toward your overall campaign benchmarks. Most commonly embedded on a campaign page, it highlights donation totals at a campaign level.

For crowdfunding campaigns, the fundraising progress bar represents the total donation volume for that campaign. On the other hand, for peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising campaigns, where individuals can create personal fundraising pages or team pages to fundraise on behalf of a nonprofit, the campaign progress bar aggregates all direct donations to the nonprofit and individual fundraisers.


2. Individual Progress Bars

An individual progress bar is specific to peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns. It provides a more granular view of a group’s movement toward their fundraising goal. The display can show teams’ and individual team members’ progress.

To show how each fundraiser’s efforts ladder up to the larger campaign, individual fundraising pages also showcase how the money that person raised helps bring the organization closer to its overarching goal. This is an excellent reminder of the sense of community that comes with peer-to-peer fundraising.

Connection and competition are big motivators to fundraise more.

In fact, the median amount raised by events that empower attendees to fundraise is over four times greater than events that do not.


3. Digital Displays of Fundraising Thermometer at Live Events

A digital display of a fundraising thermometer at your events takes this strategy to the next level with a visual that serves as the backdrop to fundraising activity at an in-person event. The fundraising thermometer widget reflects real-time donations, auction bids, text-to-donate contributions, paddle raises, merchandise purchases, and more.

Organizations often use this as a projected display that fundraising event attendees can see and be motivated by throughout the night. Some choose to have it up all night as a constant progress meter. Others get creative about including progress specific to key moments in their agenda to excite and entice potential donors.

The best part is that you don’t need a team of graphic designers to make your thermometer stand apart. You can get creative with tools like Canva or use a simple editor to add your preferred brand colors and a powerful background image. The dynamic display will have a unique URL, so all you have to do is paste the code to project it live or share it.


4 Ways to Raise More With a Fundraising Thermometer

Now that you understand the purpose and potential of this tool, we’ll show you how to make the most of your fundraising thermometer or progress bar at each stage of your campaign.

1. Create a Sense of Urgency Around Your Campaign

Immediately greet campaign page visitors with a fundraising progress bar at the top or close to where they take action (for example, a Donate Now button).

Hook prospective donors by showing them how their contributions impact the bigger goal. People like to know that they’re part of a winning team, so seeing your progress can entice donors and keep them returning to your campaign page to give again.

You can also incorporate your fundraising progress into the copy on your must-see crowdfunding campaign page, donation appeals, and social media marketing messages to take it up a notch. When you know exactly how much you have left to raise, you’re in the best spot to tie that to the impact it will make and the sense of urgency.

Fundraisers That Motivate Unlock Donor Acquisition and Volume

Fundraising progress bars are a great peer-to-peer tool to fuel giving. Communicating each fundraiser’s progress toward a goal helps spark motivation, increase donor acquisition, and boost the average gift size.

80% of donors who donate to a P2P campaign are new to the nonprofit.

See More Fundraising Trends

2. Engage Supporters in Real Time on Event Day

As more attendees return to in-person experiences, a digital display fundraising thermometer invites your target audience to see real-time donation progress toward a critical goal or milestone. You can implement this tool during your gala fundraisers, endurance events, auctions, and other creative fundraising initiatives.

Recently, Tim Tebow came on stage at a Tim Tebow Foundation event hosted by Classy Live. He called on guests to “answer the call” while displaying a fundraising thermometer to drive urgency within a specific period.

When your goal is on display for the entirety of your event, it’s a constant reminder of what brought you all together and what you can accomplish as a result. This is crucial for all campaign types, but particularly for events, which have more potential to bring in significant gifts when attendees feel motivated.

Tim Tebow Foundation Tim-tebow-foundation-fundraising-thermometer

How to Customize Your Fundraising Thermometer Image on Classy at Live Events

  • Choose your view: Select a thermometer view in Classy to showcase your progress toward your overall goal or how much you’ve raised within a specific time frame. You can always switch throughout the event.
  • Create your display: Add a background image, display name, and goal amount to thoughtfully tap into human emotion and get people excited to watch the thermometer go up.
  • Craft a thank you message: Choose the text that appears above the donation total dollar amount, like “Thank You for Donating” or “You Made the Difference.”

Start Creating Your Display

As your thermometer hits specific milestones like one-quarter of your goal, offer moments of engagement with your guests. Consider a text-to-donate prompt, a donation match announcement, or another creative way to get them excited to hit the next progress point.

How to Bring a Fundraising Progress Bar to Your Virtual Event

Display progress in a virtual venue with a fundraising progress bar at the bottom of your livestream. On Classy, you can turn this on or off easily. In addition, show individual progress bars for anyone fundraising on your behalf.

For hybrid events, showcasing a digital display on a screen for those in-person and virtually is a great way to encourage engagement and boost participation from near and far.

3. Build Connections With a Clear Impact on Donations

The impact of your fundraising thermometer doesn’t end when your campaign does. Use it as a way to put numbers to the impact of your supporters’ donations. People feel motivated to give (and give again) when they understand how their donations move the needle for an organization.

Regular communication is crucial in any strong retention strategy. Celebrate supporters around the exact percentage in which you exceeded your campaign goal, for example. At the same time, if you didn’t hit your goal, you can use that to extend your campaign strategically and call on supporters to help you close the gap.

New Insights for Donor Retention

4. Use the Data to Inform Future Fundraising Strategies

Numbers are great for demonstrating donors’ impact and informing your future campaign strategies. Think about how your campaign progress summary can designate the benchmarks you want to hit for future events and campaigns.

The following data points can help you set goals for future initiatives:

  • The likelihood of donors giving at the beginning or end of a campaign
  • The time it took to hit the quarter, halfway, and three-quarter mark of your overall campaign goal
  • The donors who gave repeat donations and the drivers influencing that
  • The individual fundraising pages that brought in the most donations
  • The average donation amount of individual fundraising pages
  • The percentage in which you exceeded or did not hit your campaign goal

Get proactive in collecting these data points throughout your campaign, then regroup afterward to make intelligent and realistic goals for the future.

Use Fundraising Thermometers to Unlock Donations

Your online fundraising tracker signals your audience to take immediate action. Keep donor connection the top priority regardless of how you put your fundraising progress bars or thermometers to use. 

Set yourself up to reach your goal, celebrate the win, and push your organization to achieve more from your fundraising efforts with a motivated donor base.

Article Sources 

  1. “Development, Data, and the Psychology of Giving,” Faunalytics, accessed April 24, 2023, https://faunalytics.org/development-data-and-the-psychology-of-giving/.

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