4 Ideas for a More Creative Fundraising Thermometer

KindfulMay 19, 2020

Here are a few effective ideas for a more creative fundraising thermometer.

If you’ve attended a fundraising event or have visited a nonprofit’s fundraising landing page, you’ve likely come across a fundraising thermometer graphic. 

For some, a thermometer is the perfect way to help supporters visualize a campaign’s success. According to Qgiv’s guide to fundraising thermometers, they appeal to our love of visuals, provide instant gratification, and foster a sense of accomplishment. Plus, it’s fun to track how close a nonprofit is to reaching its goals; donors can watch their generosity come to life in real-time.

But maybe you want to take your fundraising thermometer to the next level to make it more engaging for supporters. You can use several creative design ideas to think outside the box. Plus, these ideas give you the flexibility to incorporate your organization’s brand and mission into the design.

In this post, we’ll review four creative ideas for taking your fundraising thermometers to the next level:

  1. Choose a thermometer that’s related to your cause.
  2. Incorporate an element of your fundraising event.
  3. Get creative with your in-person ideas.
  4. Use an online fundraising thermometer tool. 

To be clear: There’s nothing wrong with using a traditional goal thermometer! In fact, sometimes a straightforward thermometer is all you need if you’re going for a minimalist or traditional look on your campaign page. 

You can easily create your own with Bloomerang’s fundraising thermometer template. This tool lets you create your very own thermometer in seconds, which can build momentum and excitement for your campaign. 

First, let’s review how nonprofits use fundraising thermometers to further their goals. 

How do nonprofits use fundraising thermometers?

Nonprofits most commonly use fundraising thermometers to track progress toward a fundraising initiative or capital campaign. For example, let’s say you want to raise $100,000 to fund one of your programs. You could create a thermometer that your team gradually fills in as you get closer to your goal. You can show benchmarks on the design for when you raise $25,000, $50,000, $75,000, and the final goal of $100,000.

You can display a tangible thermometer at an event or within your nonprofit’s facilities. You can also create a digital thermometer to include in your email newsletter, on your social media pages, and on your website. 

As mentioned above, this gives your supporters a visual representation of how they’re helping you reach your goal and offering them a feeling of accomplishment. Not only that, but it will also help motivate donors who want to feel like they’re making an impact on a cause that matters to them. That kind of positive peer pressure might encourage supporters who have never given to your nonprofit before to make their first donations.

Now, let’s explore a few ideas for shaking up the traditional fundraising thermometer format. 

1. Choose a thermometer that’s related to your cause

Instead of using a thermometer graphic, consider using an image that’s related to your nonprofit’s logo or mission. For example, if your logo has a rainbow in it, you might use a rainbow graphic to display fundraising progress. 

If your logo doesn’t make sense to use in place of the thermometer, consider your cause. If you’re raising money to save the rainforest, create an image that includes a tree. If you’re building houses, choose a graphic that shows a house.

Getting creative is a great way to reinforce your organization’s mission and remind your supporters how the funds you’re raising will actually be used.

2. Incorporate an element of your fundraising event

Sometimes it’s easier to tie a visual representation to your event. For example, if you’re holding a wine auction, you can use a wine glass or wine bottle. If you’re holding a baked goods drive, choosing a pie or cake might make sense. Using Canva or a similar graphic design program, you can even take a fundraising thermometer image and overlay it on a picture of your nonprofit’s supporters at a recent event or a photo of volunteers in action.

Download a transparent file of your Personalized Fundraising Thermometer

3. Get creative with your in-person ideas

You might also choose to display a live, tangible fundraising thermometer at a fundraising event or your nonprofit’s headquarters. Let your creativity run wild when brainstorming unique tangible fundraising thermometer ideas. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Create an interactive online or in-person display. Use tangible objects like books, blocks, puzzles, or balloons that you can add to the display as you earn more donations.
  • Incorporate humor. Don’t be afraid to use some humor when displaying your progress. Maybe you print out a goofy, life-sized picture of your executive director or a well-known figure in your community. You could turn a frown into a happy face, have them grow a beard, or change their posture to a celebratory stance when you reach the goal.
  • Add a personal touch. Tap into the creativity of your team, beneficiaries, or donors. Consider putting up a blank piece of paper with just the percentage amounts on the side. Ask others to fill in each section with something that’s meaningful to them or the organization. Provide markers or crayons to allow supporters to express their creativity. 
  • Play with lighting. Remember the carnival hammer games that would light up higher the harder you hit it? Use string lights, light strips, or a light bulb display that you light up more and more as you get closer to your goal.

4. Use an online fundraising thermometer

Some online fundraising and donor management platforms already have built-in online fundraising thermometers for your fundraising campaigns. While you can’t replicate that feeling of marker on paper, there are several benefits to online fundraising thermometers, including: 

  • They’re pre-designed. You won’t have to put in the time to design a new one for each campaign.
  • They’re automated. Online fundraising thermometers update your progress automatically. This makes it easy for your supporters to check the progress of your campaign and gives them extra motivation to donate.
  • You can connect multiple campaigns. Sometimes you’re not just tracking one fundraising campaign. Online fundraising thermometers can sync up several fundraising campaigns and allow you to see your progress on all of them.
  • You can embed them on your website. Show your live progress right on your website, giving potential donors an extra incentive to give.

Examples of online fundraising thermometers as a circle pie chart and line graph.

What tools can you use to make a fundraising thermometer?

Hiring a graphic designer to create a fundraising thermometer for your organization’s brand is often unnecessary. We recommend trying affordable graphic design software. Here are a few user-friendly options: 


Canva is an online design platform that’s easy to use, even for beginners. If you’re a registered 501(c)(3), you can access Canva premium for free through Canva for Nonprofits. While they don’t have many fundraising thermometer templates, it’s easy to create one using their simple editing tools!

Screenshot of Canva graphic design fundraising templates that you can adapt to create a fundraising thermometer.
Source: Canva


Venngage is another effective graphic design tool for novice or inexperienced designers. Venngage excels with infographics, so you could use it to design your fundraising thermometer and even create a motivating infographic with more details on your campaign. Check out the platform pricing plans for nonprofits here

Screenshot of a Venngage fundraising thermometer graphic design template
Source: Venngage

CRM or online fundraising software

Finally, explore the options available in your nonprofit CRM. Your CRM might have a built-in feature that will let you create a fundraising thermometer. For example, Bloomerang + Kindful allows users to incorporate an automatic goal thermometer on their donation pages. This thermometer updates in real-time as new donations come in.

Screenshot of a Kindful donation page that has a fundraising thermometer

The bottom line

Your fundraising thermometer doesn’t have to be a literal thermometer. As you can see, these creative ideas can offer supporters a unique and intriguing way to keep up with your fundraising progress. Plus, they’ll convey your organization’s mission or campaign purpose much more effectively.

Learn more about the free fundraising thermometer from Bloomerang

Schedule a live demo with our partner Bloomerang, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.

Filed Under:   Communication