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 an hours entry, a volunteer ensures that their 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 adding hours as part of a corporate volunteer effort, you can select Galaxy Digital as your user group on the hours 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 of volunteers is created by a member of that team when responding to a need. So the team's existence is tied to that particular need response. A user group, on the other hand, is created by a site manager. It exists outside of needs and need responses. A person who belongs to a user group can respond to any need as an individual or as a team. When adding hours, a volunteer can opt to associate their hours with a user group—or not. (The volunteer must first belong to a user group in order to associate any hours with it.)

A volunteer can belong to both a user group and a team, and their work 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 work can be associated with the company's user group. Then 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, contact your site manager to see about being added to it.

Is it possible to belong to more than one user group?

Yes, a volunteer can belong to multiple user groups. When logging your hours or checking in to a need, you can select all applicable user groups. Just remember that your volunteer hours will be associated with any user groups you select, and that the site manager will be able to use this information to collect data on group volunteerism on the site. To see activity for all of your user groups, go to the My User Groups area of your profile.

I had to answer some questions when I joined the user group. Can I edit a previous answer?

Yes, you can. Just go to your My User Groups area and click the "pencil" icon for that user group.

You'll see your previous answer and can edit it as needed. Remember to click the Update button to save your changes.

Note: You'll only see a "pencil" icon if there are questions associated with the user group.

Can I start my own user group?

Volunteers cannot start their own user groups. User groups are created in the system by your site manager. If you would like to start a user group, contact your site manager.

Who is my user group's contact person?

Standard user groups may not have a main contact or leader. If a site manager designates a user group leader, that leader may opt to contact you by email. Since user groups are private, you will not automatically know who the leader is. The site manager will likely be your point of cont 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.

What if I am the leader of the user group?

If the site manager has designated you as a User Group Leader, they will notify you. You can learn more about what you are able to do as a User Group Leader by clicking this article on managing a user group

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.

Once you've responded to a need, the agency manager for that need will be able to see your user groups. In addition, your site admin 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 check in to a need or log hours for a need, you'll have the option of selecting a user group. When you submit the hours, they'll be associated with whatever user group you selected. If you belong to more than one user group, you can select multiple user groups as applicable.

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

How awesome is my user group?

Want to see all the great things your user group has done? Check out your user group's resume, which shows total volunteer hours, impact value, and more for the past six months. To access the resume, log in to your Connect site and and select My User Groups from the profile dropdown. Next, click the View Resume button for your user group.

Note that, once you are viewing the user group resume, you can click Export as PDF to generate the resume as a PDF file.