Visualizing Success—Literally

Dear Kim,

My organization is conducting a large fundraising event and is looking for some visual way of keeping track of the money we have raised so that people can see how close we are to our goal. For example, I have heard of novelty thermometers with the red center getting higher as the organization gets closer to its goals. Do you have any idea where I could find something like this?
—Photo Finish

Dear Finish,

I am sure if you type “fundraising novelty items” or something like that into a search engine, you will find many different choices. But consider creating your own visual using an image that is organic to the organization. For example, a library I know used empty bookshelves as their starting image, and then filled them with books of different shapes and sizes. An environmental group used a picture of a forest with lots of different kinds of trees and animals. The picture was a simple black and white line drawing in the beginning and got filled in with color images as the campaign went along. Letting people know how close you are to your goal is great, but it’s even greater if the messenger reminds people of your organization. Otherwise, you may experience something I overheard a few days ago when two women saw a thermometer advertising a School Foundation Annual Fund. “They look close to their goal,” said one. “What is a school foundation anyway?” asked the other. “Not a clue,” responded the first woman as they continued walking. How much better to have an image that draws people in and helps promote your message and your mission. That will be an image that is easier to make than to buy.
—Kim