As a volunteer, you may belong to one or more user groups. If you are part of a user group, you may have exclusive access to certain initiatives (and certain needs within those initiatives) on your community's Connect site. This article is an FAQ on user groups for volunteers. 

What is a user group?

A user group is a way to group qualifying volunteers under a single "umbrella" so that volunteers and organizations can engage community initiatives as a group and measure group engagement. A user group may be a company, club, church, or other organization whose members volunteer as agents of their larger group. It can also be a group of selected volunteers who have needed expertise or training in an area (for example, volunteers who are veterinarians or are qualified to prepare tax returns). See "What is the purpose of a user group?" below for further details.

What is the purpose of a user group?

User groups have at least two purposes:

  • They are a way for volunteers to track their combined efforts, and for established groups (clubs, companies, and other organizations) to see what their members (or employees) are doing in the community.
  • They are a tool for giving private access to needs on a Connect site.

Tracking Combined Efforts

By selecting a user group as part of a need response, a volunteer ensures that their responses and hours are included in overall reporting for the larger group. For example, let's say you work for Galaxy Digital, and Galaxy Digital is set up as a user group on your site. If you belong to the Galaxy Digital user group and you are responding to a need as part of a corporate volunteer effort, you can select Galaxy Digital as your user group on the response form. If you're volunteering on your own, you do not have to select a user group. You can then see, when viewing your past volunteer efforts, how much of your work was with your company, and how much was not.

User group reports are available to all user group members. Companies (and other groups) can access those reports to track and share the volunteer efforts their members have achieved.

Assigning Private Needs

Your site manager can make a need private and offer it exclusively to one or more user groups. Once the need has been marked private, only those user group members will be able to see and respond to it.

How is a user group different from a team?

A team is created in response to a need; the team's existence is tied to that particular need response. A user group, on the other hand, exists outside of needs and need responses; a person can belong to a user group and respond to any need individually, as a team, or not at all. When responding to a need, a volunteer can opt to associate their need response a user group—or not. (The volunteer must first belong to a user group in order to associate a need response with it.)

A volunteer can belong to both a user group and a team, and their need response can be associated with both. For example, a volunteer may belong to their company's user group, but they might create a team that consists of their co-workers in one particular department. Each team member's responses can be associated with the company's user group. This way, the responses, hours and impact value can be tracked, both by the team on a team level and by the company on a user-group level. 

How do I know if I belong to a user group?

Once you are logged into your Connect site, click your profile dropdown, located in the top right-hand corner of your screen. If you belong to a user group, you will see a My User Groups option in the dropdown list.

You can select My User Groups to view the details of your user groups.

Note: Your site manager has the option to override the term "user group" with a term of their choice (such as group, club, company, etc.). If the term has been overridden on your community's Connect site, the change will be reflected in your profile dropdown.

How do I join a user group?

There are three ways to belong to a user group:

  • A site manager can add you to a user group.
  • You can click a link to join a user group. This link must be provided to you by a site manager, or by someone who received the link from a site manager.
  • If you have a certain email domain when you register, you will be added automatically to a user group. (For example, if there is a Galaxy Digital user group and you work for Galaxy Digital and have in your email address as you register, you will be added to the Galaxy Digital user group.)

If you feel that you should belong to a certain user group, or if you want to start a user group, contact your site manager.

I don't know who my site manager is. How can I contact my them about starting or joining a user group?

At the bottom of any page on your Connect site, you should see a Contact Us link:

Clicking this link will open an email form addressed to your site manager. If that link is not there, you may need to go to the nonprofit's main website and locate the contact information there. You can typically access the main website by clicking the Return To Our Website link at the top of the page:

Who is my user group's contact person?

Standard user groups do not have a main contact person or leader. If a site manager opts to email your user group, all members of your group will get an email.

Note: User groups within the Service Learning Module have "SLM Leaders," typically the professor or other instructor in charge of the course.

Can I leave a user group?

While you can't manually join a user group, you can opt to leave a user group at any time. To do so:

  1. Log into your Connect site and select My User Groups from the profile dropdown.
  2. In the table of user groups that is displayed, in the Options columns, click the X in the row of the group you want to leave.
  3. Click Yes to confirm that you want to leave the group.

Note: If you wish to rejoin a user group you've left, contact your site manager.

How do I know if I'm viewing a need that's privately available to my user group?

If a need is privately available to your user group, you'll be able to view it in the standard needs listing. It will also show up in applicable searches. Private needs appear with a "lock" icon to indicate that not all volunteers can view it.

Can I see who else is in my user group?

User group membership is private; you cannot see who else is in your user group. Only your site manager has access to that information.

There is one exception: If you are responding to a need as a team and are adding a team member, you may be able to select a user group for that team member. However, you can only select a user group for them if you both belong to the same user group.

How private is my user-group membership?

Another volunteer can see your user groups only if (1) they are adding you as a team member as part of a team signup in response to a need; and (2) they belong to the same user group(s) as you do. Outside of that, no volunteer can see what user group(s) you belong to.

Your site manager can see all user groups and user-group members, and they can email user-group members as needed.

Do I have to associate my volunteer work with a user group?

No. When you respond to a need, you'll have the option of selecting a user group with which to associate your need response. This field is not required.

Note: If you don't belong to any user groups, you won't get this option.

I know I belong to a user group, but I'm not seeing the option to select it when I respond to a need. Why not?

User group selection is available for all standard needs on your Connect site. If you are responding to a need within the Advanced Events Module (AEM), Legacy Service Learning Module (Legacy SLM), or Disaster Response Module (DRM), you will not have the option to select a user group.

To know if the need you're responding to is part of a different module, look at the "breadcrumbs" above the need title on either the need-information page or the need-response page.

In this example, you can see that the need titled "Collect recyclables for art project" is part of the "Earth Week" event, which is using the Advanced Events Module. The User Group option would not be available for this need.

How awesome is my user group?

Want to see all the great things your user group has done? Check out your group's report, which shows total volunteer hours, impact value, number of members, and number of responses for the past six months. Included are charts showing hours by month, responses by month, responses by primary interest; and table showing the needs your group members have responded to, and the agencies that posted those needs.

To access your user-group report:

  1. Log in to your Connect site and and select My User Groups from the profile dropdown.
    Click the Copy icon in the Reporting Link column. This action copies the report's URL to your clipboard.
    Open a new tab and paste the URL into the address bar.
  2. Press Enter.

Once you are viewing the report, you can select an initiative from the Initiative dropdown.

Once you have selected an initiative, click Go  to see your groups accomplishments for a that initiative.