There, I wrote it.
I’m entirely unimpressed with fundraising thermometers when used during Fund a Needs.
Thermometers were rolled out with great fanfare from the auction software vendors who created them. As proceeds pour in, donations are tracked against the goal. Guests see it play out on a screen.
Vendors like to say the tool boosts audience engagement.
But does it?
At a school auction meeting last month, the hired auction checkout guru asked if I wanted to use it. “The school is using XYZ software now, and that software has a thermometer.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Oh, we don’t have to use it!” she said, “I think they curtail donations.”
And therein lies the rub.
Those who sell thermometers tout them as boosting audience engagement.
But word on the street suggests they have the opposite effect.
Many professional fundraising auctioneers don’t like thermometers.
SUPPRESSES DONATIONS: If you state a financial goal for your fund a need and quickly surpass it, guests who haven’t yet donated may be less inclined to do so. After all, the thermometer shows you just smashed the goal. “Think I’ll save my $100 for the cash bar,” your guest thinks.
DEFLATES ENTHUSIASM: If you state a financial goal and aren’t close to achieving it, enthusiasm drains from the room. The perception? Your Fund a Need bombed.
TECHNOLOGY HICCUPS: Don’t get me started on the times the technology hung up. In one case, the same five donor names popped up again and again.
If it’s worked for you — fabulous. Kudos. Well done.
As for me, I’ll advocate other methods of engagement for a Fund a Need.
Note: This post was inspired from a student’s question in yesterday’s Part 1 of my Fabulous Fund a Need Secrets course.
Rick Gallo says
I could not agree with you more. I’ve experienced all three scenarios . It is especially damaging if you have your Fund A Need first and you do not reach goal. It dampens the rest of the evening.
As always, LOVE your posts.
Sherry Truhlar says
Thanks, Rick! Agreed on the “dampens” part.
Jon Bridenbaugh says
Thanks for posting this. I agree completely!
Sherry Truhlar says
Yes — an auctioneer in the Midwest sent me a private email agreeing. He wrote, “Committees who use thermometers can’t imagine how a professional auctioneer can possibly conduct a successful plea….because they can’t do this. And techies are so smug with their electronic gadgetry they have convinced themselves they are the end all, be all. Really?? I don’t think so.”