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4 Ways to Raise More With a Fundraising Thermometer


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Published June 8, 2022 Reading Time: 6 minutes

The closer you are to your goal, the more likely people are to give.

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

It’s easy to see how fundraising thermometers help spark motivation but have you ever wondered if you’re using them to their full potential?

Feel more confident about how fundraising thermometers can strengthen your donor acquisition, conversion, and retention strategies with this full breakdown.

First, a Fundraising Thermometer Breakdown

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

3 Types of Fundraising Thermometers

1. Campaign Fundraising Progress Bar 

A campaign fundraising progress bar showcases how much you’ve raised toward your overall campaign goal. It typically sits at the top of your campaign page to quickly highlight donation totals at a campaign level.

For crowdfunding platforms where the main call to action is to give, the fundraising progress bar is the total of all donations. For peer-to-peer 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 both the nonprofit and individual fundraisers.


2. Individual Progress Bars

An individual progress bar is specific to a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. It refers to a more granular view of each individual or team’s progress to their fundraising goal and progress on their particular pages.

A sense of connection and competition can be 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.

An individual may set a goal of $500, and as they raise money toward that goal, their progress bar will reflect this momentum to their supporters and can even invite them to raise more.

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


3. Digital Displays of Fundraising Thermometer at Live Events

A digital display fundraising thermometer is an event-specific tool that takes the idea of a fundraising progress bar to the next level. The display serves as the backdrop to fundraising activity at an in-person event. It 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 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 donors.


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 (i.e., a “Donate Now” button).

Hook prospective donors in by showing them how their contributions clearly impact the bigger goal. People like to know that they’re part of a winning team, so being able to easily see your progress can entice donors and keep them coming back to your campaign page to potentially give again.

To take it up a notch, incorporate your fundraising progress into your campaign page language, donation appeals, and social media messaging. 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 at hand.

Motivated Fundraisers Unlock Donor Acquisition and Volume

Fundraising progress bars are a great peer-to-peer tool to fuel giving.  Clearly communicating how much progress each fundraiser has made toward their goal helps spark motivation, increase donor acquisition, and boost the average gift size.

Individual fundraising pages bring in an average of 20 new donors to an organization. The average amount raised by each fundraising page increased by 34% year over year on the Classy platform.

2. Engage Supporters in Real-Time on Event Day

As more attendees return to in-person experiences in 2021, a digital display fundraising thermometer invites supporters to see real-time donation progress toward an important goal or milestone during your galas, endurance events, auctions, and creative fundraising initiatives.

Tim Tebow himself came up on stage at a recent Tim Tebow Foundation event hosted through Classy Live. He called on guests to “answer the call” while displaying their fundraising thermometer to drive urgency within a specific period.

When your goal is displayed for the entirety of your event, it’s a constant reminder of what brought you all together, and what you’re accomplishing as a result. This is important for all campaign types, but particularly for events, which have more potential to bring in significant gifts when attendees are 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 how you’re pacing toward your overall goal or how much you’ve raised within a specific timeframe. 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 juice 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.”

As your thermometer hits specific milestones like one-quarter of your goal, dedicate specific engagement with 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, this can easily be turned on or off. In addition, show individual progress bars for anyone fundraising on your behalf.

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 people had coming together for a campaign or event you’ve hosted. People are motivated to give, and give again, when they understand clearly how their donations are moving the needle for an organization.

The importance of regular communication plays into any strong retention strategy. Celebrate supporters around the exact percentage in which you exceeded your campaign goal. At the same time, if you didn’t hit your goal, you can use that to strategically extend your campaign and call on supporters to help you close the gap together.

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  forward-looking 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 the three-quarter mark of your overall campaign goal
  • Donors who gave repeat donations and the drivers influencing that
  • Individual fundraising pages that brought in the most donations
  • The average donation volume of individual fundraising pages
  • The percent in which you exceeded or did not hit your campaign goal

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

Unlock Donations With a Fundraising Thermometer

At the end of the day, your fundraising thermometer signals your audience to take immediate action. Regardless of how you put your fundraising progress bars or thermometers to use, keep donor connection as the top priority. Set yourself up to hit your goal, celebrate the win, and push even higher with your motivated donor base next time.


Learn What Motivates Donors at Events

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