Your Connect platform offers a couple of different options for "grouping" your volunteers: teams and user groups. Geared toward site managers, this article provides an overview of how each group is formed, what reporting options are available, and which grouping types are recommended for common situations. You can also download the handy comparison table located at the bottom of this article.
Note: The terms team and user group can each be overridden with different terminology at a site manager's request.
A team is a group response to an opportunity. When someone wishes to volunteer with a group of friends or colleagues, they can create a team response.
For this to happen, whoever posts the opportunity must first open it up to teams.
How is a Team Formed?
Typically a volunteer creates a team when signing up for an opportunity that is accepting team responses. To do so, they should simply click the opportunity's Respond as Team button if it is available. After clicking that button, they provide the team name, a team description (optional), a designated team leader email, and the number of people on the team. A site manager can also create a team from the site manager panel.
How Are People Added to a Team?
Once a team creator has designated a team leader, the next step is to add team members. The team creator/leader can add them, or they can send out a "team join" link, which people can click in order to join the team.
Note: Each team leader has a special team-management area where they can add new members, remove existing members, and even log hours on team members' behalf.
What Reporting is Available for Teams?
Each team leader can access a Team Resume from their team-management area. The resume link generates a PDF of a team resume, which includes total team hours, team members, and more.
For agency managers and site managers, there are currently no ready-made reports on team volunteer engagement. However, because each "team" is actually a group opportunity response, all team information is included with response data. For instance, in the response tables of both the site manager and agency management areas, you can see which teams your volunteers are affiliated with. Also, any export of need responses (including in the Advanced Events Module) will include the associated team names, team leader, and team contact information.
In addition, from the team-management area (Volunteerism > Teams), a site manager can export the site's teams into a spreadsheet. That spreadsheet lists team IDs, team names, team leaders, team size (including reserved slots), and need/opportunity ID and title. It does not include information on volunteer hours. You can learn more about that in this article on managing your site's teams.
What Else Should I Know about Teams?
Each team on your site has a unique Team ID that is tied to a specific opportunity. If a team wishes to respond to another opportunity, the team leader can select to clone the team, which automatically adds all of the existing team members to the new opportunity response. With each cloned team, a new Team ID is created--in other words, your Connect system identifies the clone as a brand-new team. So, if the same volunteer group uses the team-cloning feature to sign up for to multiple needs, your site will have multiple Team IDs for that group.
Why is this important? Because each "clone" is seen as a different team, there is no easy way to pull a report on that unique group of enthusiastic volunteers. (This is where user groups come in handy!)
A user group is a tool for grouping volunteers, students, and anyone else who is using your Connect platform to serve your community. Because user groups are not tied to opportunity responses the way teams are, you can create a user group separately from a response. When an individual (or team) responds to a need, then can then choose to associate their user group with the response. Here's what this looks like on the response form:
Unlike a team, a single user group can be connected to any number of need responses. User groups are most commonly used for corporations and students groups (such as clubs or service-learning courses), but they can be used for any group of volunteers, including church groups, Scout troops, civic clubs, and more!
How is a User Group Formed?
Each user group must be created by a site manager. If you have a list of your desired user groups in a spreadsheet, those can be imported into your platform, which can save you a bit of time. Learn more about creating user groups in this article on user groups.
How Are People Added to a User Group?
There are several ways to add people to a user group. (Those are briefly listed below, but you can learn more about those options here.)
- Manually add them yourself. You can do this individually or in bulk.
- Send out a "user group join link" to volunteers. When a volunteer clicks the link, they are automatically added to the user group. (If they don't have an account on your site yet, they'll be prompted to create one first.)
- Specify one or more email domains to act as a "key" into the user group. Here's how it works: Anyone who joins your site using that email domain will automatically be added to the user group! So for example, if you set up "@galaxydigital.com" as a user group's domain and I join your site using the email "firstname.lastname@example.org," I'll automatically be added to the user group--no questions asked!
Note: The "domain" option above only applies for new accounts. If you already have site users with the @galaxydigital.com domain, you can add all of them in bulk using your User Filter.
One important point to know is that a person cannot add themselves to a user group. There is no listing of user groups available to volunteers, and no way for a volunteer to send a request to be added. They can only be added using one of the options listed above.
What Reporting is Available for User Groups?
So glad you asked! Your Connect site offers a wealth of reporting for user groups. The Reports area of your site manager panel includes a User Group Summary report, which you can learn more about here. It also includes a Top 50 User Group Prospects report, which can give you an idea of which companies in your community volunteer most actively. Volunteers who belong to a user group can access their own User Group Report, which tells what kind of volunteer work their group has ben doing, as well as how many volunteer hours they've submitted as a whole.
In addition, nearly every report and export on opportunity responses and hours includes information about user groups.
What Else Should I Know about User Groups?
You can assign opportunities privately to user groups. So if you're a United Way who wants to make a selected volunteer opportunity available to just one company ... user groups are the tool for you! People who belong to the user group will be able to see the private opportunity (designated by a "lock" icon), but no one else will be able to see it.
Also, an individual can belong to multiple user groups, but they can only select one user group for each opportunity response. In other words, they cannot associate a response (and related hours) with more than one user group. Click here to learn more about the volunteer experience of user groups.
Your site's Advanced Events Module (AEM) includes a feature for companies. This is not a need-grouping tool but rather a way of attaching volunteer responses to a company. This feature is only available for AEM needs. For standard needs, user groups serve a similar purpose. To learn more about this AEM feature, see the article Advanced Events: Corporate Involvement.
Note: Because the AEM an older tool, we recommend exploring initiatives as an alternative. If private opportunities are important for your event, user groups can serve the purpose that AEM companies would normally serve. If you're not sure which tool is best for your event, check out our article, Which Should I Use: Initiatives or Advanced Events?