5 Creative Ideas For Fundraising Thermometer Alternatives

KindfulMay 19, 2020

In a crowd full of smiling people. the camera focuses on a woman smiling and laughing while looking to their left.

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 or two. You can easily create your own with Bloomerang’s new Fundraising Thermometer Generator here.

For some, a goal thermometer is the perfect way to help supporters visualize a campaign’s success. As QGiv* notes in this post about why a fundraising thermometer works, the thermometer appeals to our love of visuals, provides us with instant gratification, and helps create a sense of accomplishment. Plus, it’s fun to keep track of how close a nonprofit is to reaching its goals; it’s like watching a donor’s generosity come to life in real time.

But maybe fundraising thermometers aren’t your thing. You’re not alone! There are other nonprofit professionals who want to switch things up and use something other than a thermometer.

The good news is that there are several fundraising thermometer alternatives you can use. Better yet, these alternatives give you the flexibility to incorporate your organization’s brand, your cause, and your fundraising events into the design.

In this post, we’ll show you three creative ideas for fundraising thermometer alternatives, plus two variations of the traditional thermometer:

How do nonprofits use fundraising thermometers?

First, let’s talk a little more about why nonprofits use fundraising thermometers. Nonprofits use fundraising thermometers in different ways, but the most common is to track progress made 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 or alternative design that could be filled in as you get closer to your goal. You would show benchmarks on the design, which might look like showing when the organization raises $25,000, $50,000, $75,000, and the final goal of $100,000.

As we 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 part of making an impact on a cause that matters to them. That kind of positive peer pressure might help encourage supporters who have never given to you before to make their first donations.

To be clear: There’s nothing wrong with using a traditional goal thermometer! In fact, we designed this Fundraising Thermometer Template for you in case you’re looking for a new one.

Create Your Own Personalized Fundraising Thermometer

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

If your logo or logomark doesn’t make sense to use in place of the thermometer, turn to 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.

This is a great way to reinforce your organization’s mission and remind your supporters how the funds you’re raising are actually going to 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, it might make sense to choose a pie or cake. Using Canva or similar graphic design program, you can even take a Fundraising Thermometer image and place it on a picture of your nonprofit at a recent event or the type of cause your organization works towards.

Download a transparent file of your Personalized Fundraising Thermometer

3. Get creative with your ideas

Looking for other ideas? Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Create an interactive display. Use tangible objects like books, blocks, puzzles, or balloons that you can add to the display as you get more donations.
  • Incorporate humor. If it’s appropriate, 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 or the public. 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.
  • Tap other people to add a personal touch. Here’s a chance to 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.
  • 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.

5. 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:

  • They’re pre-designed. This way you don’t have to put in the time to design a new one.
  • 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 have that extra motivation to give.
  • 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 Kindful online fundraising thermometers as circle pie chart and line graph

What tools can you use to make a fundraising thermometer?

It’s often not necessary to hire a graphic designer to make a fundraising thermometer for your organization’s brand. We recommend trying an affordable graphic design software.


We used Canva to make our simple example of a Kindful thermometer. If you’re a registered 501c3, you can get Canva premium for free through Canva for Nonprofits. While they don’t have any fundraising thermometer templates, it’s easy to create one using their simple editing tools!

Screenshot of Canva graphic design fundraising templates
Source: Canva


Venngage is another good graphic design tool for novice or inexperienced designers. Venngage excels with infographics, so you could use them to design your fundraising thermometer and even create a motivating infographic with more details on your campaign. Venngage comes at a slightly higher cost. With a 50% nonprofit discount, it’s $10 a month for nonprofits.

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

Microsoft Word

Don’t want to learn a new graphic design tool? You can even use a word processor like Microsoft Word to create your thermometer! Word processors were not created with graphic design in mind, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make them work. We love this video that gives you a step-by-step guide to using Microsoft Word to create a fundraising thermometer.

CRM or Online Fundraising Software

Finally, check with your nonprofit CRM! You might find that they have a built-in feature that will let you create a fundraising thermometer. For example, Kindful customers can use an automatic goal thermometer on their donation page. This thermometer will update in real time as new donations come in to the fundraising campaign.

Screenshot of a Kindful donation page that has a donation goal progress thermometer

Check out Bloomerang’s free Fundraising Thermometer Generator to quickly create a personalized Thermometer that highlights your fundraising goal progress.

See Bloomerang’s Fundraising Thermometer Generator

See Kindful’s Online Fundraising Thermometer

*QGiv is a Kindful integration partner.

Schedule a demo to learn more about how Kindful can help you save time with online fundraising.

Filed Under:   Communication