This article is for new site managers of Get Connected, Community Connect, Campus Connect, and Corporate Connect sites.
How do you know if your site is ready for volunteers to begin finding the volunteer opportunities of their dreams? This article builds on this handy checklist, providing links and additional information to help you ensure that you're ready to go. This checklist is divided into several sections:
- Getting Started
- Site Setup Tasks
- Site Management Tasks
- Bringing Your Site's Agencies on Board
- Other Tools You Can Use
- Last Items Before Launch
Note that some items on this list are vital to a successful launch, but not all are. If you have questions about any of these items, reach out to our Customer Care team.
Now that your organization has purchased a Connect product, there are several important initial tasks ahead of you.
- Have a scheduled launch call with your Customer Care representative. During your launch call, you'll learn your options for data imports, what trainings you'll need, and what materials you'll want to prepare once you've completed your trainings. This call will enable you to get started on these tasks:
- Schedule any necessary imports with Galaxy Digital's data specialist.
- Complete all required trainings. (Typically, this is the agency manager training and two site manager trainings, experienced live, as a video, or as a self-paced course featuring videos, articles, and the occasional quiz.)
- If others will be helping you manage your Connect platform, ensure that they (1) have an active Connect account and (2) complete all required trainings.
- Develop desktop and mobile banners for your site.
- Decide on your site's primary and secondary colors.
- Take any necessary steps to set up a subdomain or custom URL.
- Create a Google Analytics account for your site.
Site Setup Tasks
Once you've completed your Site Setup training, you'll get the credentials to log in to your platform and establish the settings you want to use. Here are the tasks you should now be able to do, divided up by topic. (In case you forgot how to do something, click on the links provided to find the instructions you need!) Tasks are listed roughly in order of importance, with the most important items first, and the less important or optional items last.
Establish Your Site's Main Settings
- Upload your desktop and mobile banners, as well as the favicon (for browser tabs) and site logo (for in-app messages). All of these are covered in our Site Design Settings article.
- Add your Google Analytics tracking code to the "Custom Code" area of site settings.
- Indicate whether your site will allow individual volunteer hours and anonymous hours.
- Set up your approvals once you've decided which items (such as new agencies, new needs, and new events) can be published automatically to the site once added by an agency manager, and which items should require site manager review first.
- If you want to use a custom return email address for notifications to your volunteers (default is email@example.com), enter the custom address and verify it with Amazon Web Services.
- Indicate whether a map or a faded photo should appear in the background of your site's landing page. If you're using a photo, upload the photo and view the site to ensure that the photo looks good.
- Enter any social media links that you want to appear on every page of your platform.
- Establish your default settings for the volunteer experience, including the user view, the value of a volunteer hour (for resumes) if not using your state's rate, team signup requirements.
- Set up the state and counties that your organization serves.
- Decide if you want agency contact information to appear in the agency profiles visible to volunteers. (Some site managers choose not to show this information as a way of preventing volunteers from "signing up" via a phone call or an email.) Enter this setting in your Main Settings area.
- Establish settings for needs. Do you want needs to be displayed on your site once all slots have been filled? What capabilities to you want agencies to have regarding initiatives, user groups, and scheduling? Enter those settings in the "Needs" area of your Main Settings.
Think About Language Overrides
- If you want to override any of the default terms and phrases on your Connect site, contact our Customer Care Team and let us know. We can override a term at any time, so if you change your mind later or realize you want to override an additional term or phrase, just let us know. Click here for a list of terms that can be overridden.
- Contact Customer Care with a list of requested overrides.
Decide on Interests (Skills) and Causes
- Interests ("skills" in Community Connect) and causes are an important part of the Connect experience. By letting you know what causes they're passionate about and what their volunteer interests are, volunteers can easily find the agencies and needs that "fit" them best.
- Contact Customer Care if you want to change the number of causes and interests (skills) available on your site from the default 16.
- Set up any custom causes and interests (skills), keeping in mind that you must remove a cause or interest (skill) in order to add another one, and that you should select a unique icon and a color for each.
Set Up User Registration
The user registration process is among the first interactions with your site that a volunteer will have, so you'll want to think about how you want that process to look. What personal information do you want to collect? What steps do you want to require? You can learn more about the user-registration process in this article, which you'll want to review before setting up your site's user-registration settings.
- Specify whether your site will only accept new users with a certain email domain.
- Indicate whether one or more of the default registration steps should be hidden from new users, and decide if you want to give users the option of skipping the displayed steps when signing up.
- Select which fields (including any custom questions) should appear on the initial user registration form, and which (if any) should be required. By default, the registration form requires a first name, last name, and email address.
- Decide if you are going to use qualifications on your site, and if you want the user registration to include a qualifications step.
- By default, users can sign up using their Facebook ID and password. To prevent users from having this option, contact Customer Care to turn off the Login Using Facebook option.
- Sign up using a test account to ensure that the registration process meets your expectations.
Set Up Agency Registration
- This step is necessary if agencies in your community will be registering for your site on their own. Learn more about the agency registration form here.
- Select which fields should appear on the initial agency registration form, and which (if any) should be required. By default, the agency registration form requires an agency name and the email address of the agency manager. If the agency manager does not already have a Connect account on your platform, they'll be required to create one.
- If you will not be allow agencies to sign up for your site, contact Customer Care to learn about options for hiding the agency registration feature.
Decide What Other Data You Want to Collect
There are two other areas where you can collect additional information from your volunteers:
- Add custom questions to the need-response form so that volunteers can answer questions when responding to any need (excluding advanced-event needs) on your site.
- Add up to two custom questions to the hours-submission form so that volunteer can answer questions when submitting their hours.
Spiff Up Your Landing Page with Spotlights and Images
- Add spotlights to your site to direct visitors to the areas you most want them to visit. Keep in mind that only three spotlights will have banners, but you can feature an unlimited number of spotlights in the navigation menu.
- Dress up your platform's image rotator with colorful, eye-catching photos and other images. Remember that you can use an unlimited number of images, and you can make those images clickable.
Set Up Your Community Impact Areas
If you are a United Way, you may want to set your site up for easy reporting of how your volunteers are contributing to your organization's main impact areas.
- Set up your impact areas. Remember, if your site uses impact areas, then an agency manager must select an impact area for every need posted.
Prepare Your Site to Accept Donations
If you accept donations through your Connect site, donations will go directly to your organization only. Volunteers cannot select a different agency to receive a donation.
- Set up a Stripe account and get the publishable and secret keys necessary for collecting donations through the site.
- Decide on the introduction and thank-you messages for volunteers who wish to donate to your organization.
Site Management Tasks
Once you've taken your site management training, you'll be prepared to do the following pre-launch tasks. Tasks are divided up by topic.
If you've arranged to have your organization's data imported:
- Read over our Policy for Data Imports and our Imports FAQ to learn about our process, guidelines, restrictions, and more.
- Prepare the data as directed by Galaxy's data-import specialist.
- Once the data have been imported, check to make sure the information appears as it should. Remember that imported needs will not be visible until the agencies ("programs" in Community Connect) are activated.
- Decide when you will activate imported agencies (programs) and users. (We recommend activating the agencies just prior to the agency trainings, and activating the users when the site is ready to launch to the public.)
- Read the Automated Notification Messages article to learn how automated notifications work, and how you can edit them.
- Go through your site's templates and customize them as needed. Remember that you can only use the template keys available, and that you shouldn't edit the text within template keys. And don't forget to add custom signatures!
- (optional) To get an idea of what notifications look like, you can test them by creating a test need for your agency (progam) and then responding to it when logged in as the agency manager. You'll receive the message that someone has responded to your need, and you'll also receive the confirmation that goes to the volunteer.
Other Site-Management Items to Consider
- Set up benchmarks so that your volunteers can begin earning badges right off the bat.
- Set up qualifications if certain needs on your site should be limited to those volunteers with required training, certifications, licenses, etc.
- If you've set up qualifications, indicate which agencies will have permission to attach qualifications to the needs they post.
- Set up user groups if your site is going to be using this feature; remember that you can include user groups in the volunteer imports.
- Set up any initiatives that will be going on when your site is launched. If you want agency managers to be able to select an initiative when posting a need, give them that permission in Site Settings.
- Read over the default terms and conditions and edit it as needed.
- Familiarize yourself with the available reports.
Bringing Your Site's Agencies on Board
- In your launch call, you may have told your Customer Care representative how you wanted to approach training your agency managers in your new software.
- If agencies are being imported, ensure that the import has been successfully completed prior to the agency training.
- Activate imported agencies so that agency managers can begin updating their profiles and learning the system.
- Develop a training plan for your agency managers. If Galaxy Digital will be providing a custom training, invite the agencies to attend. If you want agency managers to attend one of our recurring trainings, send them the necessary links.
- If no agencies are being imported, send a message to your community's agencies, inviting them to learn about your new system.
- If your organization was not imported as an agency, go ahead and create an agency now. This will allow you to post needs later, and it's also good practice for supporting the agencies that will be using your site.
- Once agencies begin using your site, check the Incomplete Agencies stats regularly to ensure that agencies are entering the needed information for their profiles. Reach out to those agencies that still need to provide necessary information.
- Make sure your agencies know that they have access to their Agency Manager's Toolbox and a variety of resources in our Help Center, including:
- Register Your Agency on a Connect Site
- Agency Engagement: Spread the Word!
- Your Agency's Profile Page
- Posting and Managing Your Agency's Needs
- Volunteer Check-in
- Encourage agencies to begin posting needs and events so that your platform has the opportunities and information to draw in potential volunteers.
Other Tools You Can Use
- These items aren't necessary for launching a site, but they will make your site more engaging and interesting to new visitors.
- Create an internal volunteer impact page (VIP) so your new volunteers can see how their work is helping your organization to meet its goals. Want to wait until you have more data before unveiling a VIP? No problem! Just turn off the VIP for now.
- Compose the first blog of your new site. Visitors will be able to access it in the bottom right-hand corner of their dashboards, or you can link it in a spotlight.
Final Items for Launch
- Once you've completed all of the applicable tasks suggested here, you just may be ready to launch your site to the public! Here are a few final steps to take.
- If you imported users, it's time to activate those accounts. Activate any imported data. When you activate imported users in bulk, each new user will receive an email letting them know that they've been added to the site. This email includes their email address and a temporary password.
- Let your community when your platform will be up and running! Here are a few articles you can send them to help them get started!