Are you looking for ways to group volunteers together for quick communication, reporting, and scheduling? Your site can help with that! Volunteers can be grouped into teams or user groups. You might be wondering which one you should choose, or what's the difference between the two. No worries—we cover it here:
- What are teams and how are they created?
- What are user groups?
Teams are a way for users to respond to opportunities they want to volunteer for with their colleagues, family, or friends. When you, other site managers, or program managers create opportunities, you have the option to allow teams to register for them. Once you enable this option, volunteers are given the chance to select either Respond Individually or Respond As Team when responding to your opportunities.
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!)
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 and put in the information for the people on the team. A site manager can also create a team from the site manager panel.
How are volunteers 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.
Is reporting 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.
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.
User groups are most commonly used for corporations and student 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!
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.
How do I create a user group?
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 volunteers 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.) If the user group has "join questions," volunteers will be asked to answer these questions before being added.
- 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.
- After volunteers join a user group, they will be able to select the user group when they add their hours.
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.
Is there a user group leader?
Yes. When you edit a user group, you can scroll to the list of users in the group at the bottom of the page. You can select a user group leader by clicking the box in that column. You can also select more than one user group leader.
Please keep in mind that doing so enables that volunteer to perform edits to the group just as you do. So choose your user group leaders carefully and let them know when you've made them a leader.
Is reporting 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 the following reports:
- The User Group Summary report displays basic data for your site's user groups and can be used to compare user groups at a glance.
- The Top 50 User Group Prospects report shows which email domains on your site are not already associated with a user group. This data can give you an idea of which companies in your community volunteer most actively and would be good prospects for user groups.
- The Hours By User Group report lists, for a selected date range, a select user group's members and the hours (including entered, pending, and approved). You can use this report as a tool for recognizing your most active volunteer groups.
In addition, volunteers who belong to a user group can access their own User Group Resume, which tells what kind of volunteer work their group has been doing, as well as how many volunteer hours they've submitted as a whole.
You can also find associated user group data in nearly every report and export on opportunity responses and hours.
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 is 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?