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The power of the fundraising thermometer

There’s a reason fundraising thermometers are such a common way to measure fundraising campaigns. They give visitors to your site a visual picture of how much money you’ve already raised, how much you still need to raise to meet your goal and how much time you have to do so.

In the past, we’ve talked about how important it is to know your donors—who they are, what they want and where they come from. To better understand them, and why you should use a fundraising thermometer to measure begin by learning about the psychology behind donations.

The psychology of giving

Research conducted by psychologists has found that donating to a charitable cause stimulates regions of the pleasure circuit in your brain, the same regions simulated when you receive money. Other research says that people feel happier when they spend money on someone else rather than on themselves, no matter the amount. Not to mention that the web is full of articles promoting the benefits of giving for your health, social life and emotional stability.

It’s apparent that most people understand giving is good for them, and psychology has proven it. But how do visuals, such as fundraising thermometers, connect to the psychology of giving?

Why use fundraising thermometers?

Sixty-five percent of the population are visual learners, meaning a large group of people who visit your nonprofit’s website will take in the information better when a chart, graph or picture is used. They will also remember the information more clearly than if they had simply read about your cause.

Displaying a fundraising thermometer on your landing page gives a great visual picture to visitors to your site of how far along you are in a campaign. Two main purposes of fundraising thermometers are to create a sense of urgency to these visitors and to drive more donations.

Creating a sense of urgency

A fundraising thermometer on a landing page can help create a sense of urgency for your campaign. Communicate the purpose of your campaign to your audience via your social channels and email newsletters. Then, lead them to your landing page where the fundraising thermometer will give them a visual picture of how much more support you need to meet your goal.

Driving more donations

Potential donors want to know that their donation will make an impact. One study even found that people are more likely to donate to a cause when the campaign had already raised 66% or more of its goal amount. Showing donors a visual representation of the money you’ve already raised will give them that extra push to contribute.

Bonus: The psychology of social proof

Social proof is defined as the concept that people will conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior. Studies have also found a psychological connection between giving and improving one’s social status or reputation.

One way to use social proof psychology to your advantage is by creating a list of donor names or donor comments, called donor rolls, visible on your landing page next to your fundraising thermometer. Giving recognition to donors makes them feel good and inspires potential donors to give as well. Plus, the recognition of donors also encourages them to give again in the future.

4aGoodCause was created to help nonprofits raise more money for their cause online. If you’re looking for assistance in this area, get in touch with us today!


Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald is the President and Founder of 4aGoodCause, a simple and effective fundraising CRM that specializes in earning recurring revenue for nonprofits through monthly giving. For 25 years, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves, building online solutions that make a difference in the world. He’s helped raise millions of dollars online for small nonprofits across the country. Connect with Ronald on LinkedIn.

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