Advance Release Date - April 4, 2017

Public Release Date - May 1, 2017

Applied To All 2.0 Sites: May 1, 2017

Version 2.8 was released to a select group of clients on April 4, 2017. Revisions to that version, along with some additional features, were incorporated as Version 2.9. Both versions are included in this release, which includes features and updates in the following areas:

- You can view many of these enhancements in video form on our Vimeo page.
- Except where noted, the following applies to our Volunteer Module only. Except for very specific cases, these changes do not affect the Advanced Events, Service Learning, or Disaster Response modules. Those special cases will be pointed out in these release notes.

At a Glance: Changes to Your Site's Look and Feel

As you begin to explore your updated site, you'll notice some changes in the volunteer view, the agency manager view, and the site manager view.

Volunteer View

Two buttons have been added to the volunteer's utility bar:

  • Volunteer: This button takes the volunteer to a page listing all of the opportunities on the site that are available to them.
  • Add HoursThis button takes the volunteer to the Track Hours section of their profile, where they can add their volunteer hours.

In addition to these changes, the profile dropdown may include a My User Groups option.

A user can select My User Groups to view details of any user groups they belong to.

Agency Manager View

In the Manage Needs table of the agency manager view, an agency manager can now see if a need is public or private, if it is associated with an initiative, and if that initiative is public or private. Privacy is indicated by a closed lock icon; see examples below.

In addition, the agency manager also has new fields and capabilities on their Create Need and Update Need forms.

Finally, the agency manager can now see team information on their exports of needs and responses from the Stats area.

Site Manager View

Site managers have some new options under the Volunteerism menu.

In addition, if you go to Volunteerism > Needs, you will see a new Initiatives heading.

Click this heading to access your initiatives-management area.

Finally, if you go to the Reports area, you will see several new reports listed.


Initiatives is a new feature for grouping needs that fall under a certain umbrella. Initiatives are useful in various situations, including:

  • When needs are associated with a specific event, such as Stuff the Bus and Day of Caring
  • When needs are associated with a particular time of year, such as summer or the holidays
  • When needs are associated with a particular group of volunteers, such as youth volunteers, or employees of a company

Site managers can assign needs to initiatives. Site managers can then assign initiatives to specific volunteer groups, add custom response questions for initiative needs, customize automated notifications for all needs within an initiative, and more. To learn more about initiatives, check out these articles:

- As a site manager, you can allow agency managers to attach their own needs to initiatives. See New Options in Site Settings for more information.
- If you wish to override the term "initiative" on your site, contact our Customer Care Team with your request.

Why Initiatives? Why not AEM?

You've probably already noticed that initiatives can serve as an alternative to the Advanced Events Module. We came up with initiatives in response to clients' requests and suggestions regarding the AEM, which wasn't consistently meeting some clients' needs. It worked well for some clients, but others wanted more freedom with need duration types, applicability to regular needs, and more control over the need-posting form. You can still use the AEM as always, but you may find that initiatives offers an easier, more accessible way of grouping needs under a single umbrella. With the new user groups feature, you can offer individual needs—or entire initiatives—privately to different groups.

User Groups

User groups are a tool for grouping volunteers into categories based on common workplaces, clubs, or volunteer groups. User groups can also be used for selected volunteers who have expertise or training in an area (for example, volunteers who are veterinarians, or who are qualified to prepare tax returns).

Once associated with a user group, a volunteer can then associate any of their need responses with that user group. As a site manager, you can make initiatives and needs privately available to user groups, such that anyone outside of an assigned user group cannot see or respond to the private needs.

For more information on user groups, check out these articles:

Note: If you wish to override the term "user group" on your site, contact our Customer Care Team with your request.


As a site manager, you can now mark individual, non–AEM needs private or public. As mentioned above, you can also make initiatives private, where only the user groups you specify can see the initiative details. For more information on privacy in this new version, see our article titled Private Initiatives and Private Needs. You can find more information in our FAQ on Public and Private Initiatives and Needs.


The teams feature has undergone a major rebuild. Team leaders now have expanded team-management capabilities (including the ability to email team members, add team hours, and clone a team). Site managers can now create teams from the site manager panel, and they have all of the same team-management abilities of the team leader, and more. Agency managers can now clearly see team-related information when viewing responses and hours. For more information on how teams work in this new version, check out these articles:

Note: These features apply to standard needs only. They are not available in the Advanced Events Module.

Posting Needs: New Options

Both site managers and agency managers have new options for posting needs:

  • Site managers can now add custom questions to initiatives. If a need is part of an initiative, these questions will appear on the need-response form for any volunteer responding to the need. This means that you can use initiatives to add custom questions to one or more needs.
  • The need-posting form now includes fields for Wheelchair-Accessible, Outdoor, and Inclement Weather Plan (for outdoor needs). These fields were previously only available on the AEM need form.
  • Agency managers can now add additional details ("attributes") their needs. Attributes appear in the Details area at the bottom of a need-information page.

For more information new options for posting needs, check out these articles:

Note: If you wish to override the term "attribute" on your site, contact our Customer Care Team with your request.

Finding and Responding to Needs: New Options for Volunteers

Volunteers have new options when finding and responding to standard needs.

Searching for Needs

The search/filter feature now includes options for Outdoors and Wheelchair Accessible needs.

Responding to Needs

A volunteer who belongs to one or more user groups can now select the user group with which they want to associate their need response and any hours they submit for the need later. A volunteer is not required to select a user group. The option to select a user group does not appear if the volunteer doesn't belong to any user groups.

Once a volunteer has submitted a response, they can return to the response later and change the following elements:

To access the area to edit their need response, they can select Need Responses from their profile dropdown.

This will take them to the Volunteer Responses area of their profile, where they'll see the option to edit their responses. Note that they can also use this area to add hours, and that team leaders can access their team-management area from here as well.

Note: If a volunteer wishes to unregister from a need, they should go to the need itself. They can click on the linked need in their Volunteer Responses area. (See above.)


With these new features come new reports! The Reports area of your site manager panel now includes reports on initiatives and user groups. In addition, team leaders can now access a team resume, and user groups can view user groups reports. For more information, see our article about reports added in this version.

Canadian Localization

The updates described below will have little or no effect on existing Galaxy Digital clients. These changes all affect the behind-the-scenes architecture of sites, and they are only explained here the sake of having all new features documented. Additional localization will be added in later versions this spring.

Updates to Canadian Sites

The ZIP code field now validates seven-character postal codes in addition to validating five-digit ZIP codes before a form is submitted, depending on whether the site serves Canada or the United States. Counties will not be used on Canadian sites at all. To make searches easier on Canadian sites, kilometers will be used when measuring distances between postal codes of Canadian sites or documenting the distance traveled in the Add Hours form. Finally, Canadian provinces will be shown on forms instead of American states if the site serves Canada.

Updates to Language Table

The following terms on your Connect site can now be overridden with a term of your choice:

  • State
  • ZIP code
  • Miles

These language items have been added primarily so that Canadian clients can have their sites use Province, Postal Code, and Kilometers. These changes should not affect existing clients.

Default Value of Volunteer Hours added

Site managers can assign a dollar value for volunteers' time in Site Settings. In the event that a site is missing data in its Value of a Volunteer Hour field in Site Settings, a default value is populated based on the site's state. Now, the system will use a value of $24/hour if the site lacks a state, the site is in Canada, or a value is otherwise not available.

Note: Province-by-province values are not available for Canada, so a national rate was used instead.

Email IP Address Change

This change is primarily of interest for sites whose users who have had to white-list Galaxy Digital emails (mainly those coming from because the messages were getting caught in the recipients' spam filters. (This sometimes occurs if a company has a particularly strict spam filter.) In the past, we have instructed users to add to their "safe senders" list, and to white-list the IP address Recently, our email vendor forced a change of IP address. From this point forward, users should white-list the IP address, as well as the old one.