Forget fundraising thermometers, let's look at fundraising map/route widgets!
Recently, MapTogether started an online campaign to raise $359 for a speaker registration at the #10NTC Nonprofit Technology Conference in Atlanta. Like many grassroots or nonprofit projects trying to raise a small sum, we signed up for a ChipIn account and used web-based services to create a fundraising widget: a graphical widget that allows viewers to securely donate to our campaign AND displays a real-time view of donations toward the goal.
Like most "donation progress meters" the ChipIn widget uses a variation of the classic "fundraising thermometer." You've seen this before: a thermometer metaphor where the red "mercury" rises up the thermometer as donations increase toward a target goal at the top of the thermometer. The example below appears on the Yukon territorial lottery website.
As a neogeographer, I decided that a map-based widget would be much cooler than a thermometer widget and a distance/map metaphor must be at least as valid as a temperature/thermometer metaphor (don't get me started on "twice as hot" or "twice as cold" :-). Plus, since the point of our campaign was to help sponsor a road trip from Chicago to Atlanta, visualizing our progress as a road trip analogy was intuitive.
It also helped that the math was easy! We were trying to raise $359 in our campaign. Google Maps says the shortest route from Chicago to Atlanta is 717 miles - round that up to 718 and it's exactly DOUBLE the number of dollars we needed to raise! That let us easily calculate that every dollar donated to our campaign got us 2 miles closer to Atlanta.
When our first donation rolled in (thanks again, David Krumlauf! :-) I calculated that the $20 was equivalent to 40 miles. Forty miles from Chicago along the route that Google generated puts our metaphorical progress somewhere around Merrillville, Indiana. Since we don't need geographic precision, it was relatively easy to highlight the first 40 miles of the route on a Google Map and move the "MapMobile" road trip icon down into Indiana. Given the (hopefully) fast progress of our campaign, I doubt that I'll have time to make an automated version of this widget (though I have some ideas :); for now, I'm just going to hand-generate a dozen or so interim graphics and swap them out as our donation progress warrants.