Donation Goals: How they work, and how to use them properly

Have you ever wondered if it’s too scummy to add a donation bar to your stream? Have you ever wondered if it might increase your total donations? Do you have doubts that they actually work? Well, you’re not alone.

Many streamers are uncomfortable adding a donation widget to their stream, and for the same reasons posed by the questions above. I was curious as well, so I took to Twitter to gauge how streamers and viewers felt. To my surprise, almost 90% voted in favor of streamers using donation goals.

Why do Donation Goals Work?

Setting up a target allows channel supporters to have a better idea of what their contributions are going to. When someone donates to a channel, the most common reason is because they want to support the growth and improvement of the stream. Whether it’s a new graphics card, an updated overlay, or a new game to play, supporters will know where the money is going, and how close they are to achieving the goal.

There are smaller factors that play a role in the success of donation goals as well. In a few cases, viewers indicated that they simply like seeing progress made on the donation bar. Others mentioned that just seeing the donation bar helped remind them that donations are an option, because “it can be easy to forget sometimes.”

If utilized properly, donation goals can be beneficial to the growth of your stream. After a bit of digging, I found some tips that may help your own channel succeed in meeting donation goals. Keep in mind, these are not a “one-size-fits-all” set of rules, but they can serve as a good baseline for deciding if adding a donation bar widget to your stream is a good call.

Don’t Start too Early

If you are new to streaming, I highly recommend against setting up a donation goal, or even focusing on donations at all. If you don’t have a community, pushing donations will almost universally be considered tacky. If your channel is just starting out, wait a few months before setting up that first donation goal.

Set Reasonable Targets

This one is pretty straightforward – be reasonable about what you ask for. If you have a small community, setting up a goal for a $5000 studio upgrade is ridiculous. Start small, and scale your goals to fit your channel size. Your supporters will be more likely to contribute if they feel they can make a dent in the goals you set. If you can’t meet the goal within 30 days, it might be a bit too unreasonable.

Keep it Relevant to your Channel

When someone donates to a channel, it’s because they want to invest in your stream. Keep this in mind when setting up donation goals.  A microphone upgrade or a new webcam make sense – they will benefit your channel, and your viewers will get a better experience out of it. Your vacation trip to Hawaii? Not so much. Unless you’re a big-time streamer who rakes in massive revenue, you should be utilizing the majority of the financial support you receive to help grow and improve your content.

Don’t be a Charity Case

We’ve all come across this at least once – donation goals set up for medical bills, rent, or car repairs. While it might make sense on paper to set utilize streaming as a way to make ends meet, in practice these types of donation requests place viewers in an uncomfortable position. You want viewers to feel like they’re supporting you, not taking care of you. If you really need to leverage your channel to help pay the bills, consider leaving out the “what it’s going to” part. Instead of “$200 to pay my electric bill,” set a goal for $200 with a “12 Hour Streamathon” reward if your community meets the goal. This takes the pressure off the viewers, and gives them a fun incentive to work towards the goal.

Be Honest

This is the most important part! If you set up a donation goal, follow through with how you promised to utilize it. Don’t ask for money for one thing, and then spend it on something else. Doing so can damage the trust between you and your community, and that’s not something that can be easily fixed.

Final Thoughts

A donation goal isn’t just for you, it’s for your community. If you want to utilize these to help further the development of your channel and make better content – that’s totally okay! If you have a supportive community and you want to see if it works out, don’t be afraid to set up a donation goal and try it out!


StreamElements provides an easy way to receive tips and count them towards donation goals. Be sure to check them out!