Below you'll learn about the first batch of features added and updated for the Connect platform in 2019. Of special note is a new disaster-response platform. For many clients who were using our Disaster Response Module (DRM), the initiatives feature, which is available to all clients, has proven a sufficient alternative for disaster planning and response. As of this release, the DRM is discontinued. For clients who want to take disaster planning and response to the next level, a new offering, the Readiness Disaster Intelligence (ReDI) System, is now available. Sites that purchase the ReDI System will enjoy the standard Connect features, as well as the new ones described below. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if your community is interested in getting the ReDI System.
New features and updates for all sites
Qualifications can show and hide individual needs
Sometimes people get confused when they see a need they cannot respond to because they lack a qualification. You can now hide needs from unqualified volunteers with our new permission level. Set a qualification to "required to view selected needs," and that need will stay hidden from volunteers who are not qualified. Food banks and other Community Connect site managers will love how this focuses volunteers on the things they can participate in, and volunteers will love the simplification.
Qualification can be auto-approved
Qualifications are very useful, but they can become cumbersome when you are not asking for anything sensitive. Speed up your use of the site by setting some of your simpler qualifications to "auto approve." Your site will automatically approve volunteers' answers, so they can get started volunteering even sooner.
Volunteers can add "plus-ones" when submitting hours
A new type of hour submission, "plus-one hours," is now available, making it easier for your site to capture hours more accurately. With plus-one hours, site managers can log hours for corporate groups that won't provide names or emails, and volunteers can log hours on behalf of friends or family (particularly children) who volunteered with them but do not have an account.
Needs can now accommodate multiple days
How many mission trips, alternative spring breaks, or other service trips do you have on your site? If you have even a few of these volunteer events across multiple days, you'll be excited to know about the new multi-date need type. With it you can communicate the necessary commitment to the volunteer more clearly. You'll also be better able to capture hours with the kiosk and other mechanisms, so your data will be an even better reflection of the impact made during the trip. Churches, schools, and clubs are especially likely to use this.
Managers now have a report for hours by user group
The most common type of custom report added over the last year is now a canned report. Your site now has access to a report on what the members in a particular group are doing. The "Hours by User Group" report, available in the Reports area of your site manager panel, will come in handy for your relationships with corporate groups in particular, as you can now get a clean look at their hours.
Initiatives can have custom need questions
If you want your agency managers to answer unique questions on an initiative-by-initiative basis, you can now add those questions to the initiative. Use this feature to get answers about important things that only come up in limited contexts. This feature is similar to the "agency questions" feature available in the Advanced Events Module (AEM).
Portal managers can add and edit tags on hub needs
If your site connects to another Connect site, this feature will help ensure that content can be labeled appropriately. If you received needs from another site, you can now add or edit tags on those needs to mark them as "on campus," "great for families," and more.
User groups now have a banner
When a volunteer views needs for a user group, they'll see a banner for that user group. This will help site visitors know that they are working with the needs meant for their group.
Users will get a notification when they are designated as site managers
The first time you get designated as a site manager, you might not know where to go. Now, new site managers will get a note with important information they need to be successful, including information for contacting support and a link to the help center.
Needs can be marked to accept teams only
If you don't want volunteers to sign up for needs as individuals, you can mark a need as being for "teams only." This option will indicate that a need is geared toward larger groups, and it will help funnel individual members toward group leaders.
Managers can bulk-add anonymous hours
When anonymous hours are added by a site manager, the form will how ask how many people were working, and an unique hour entry will be created for each one. This will give you better reporting on how many hours entries there are and how large of shifts volunteers were working.
New site members no longer have to choose three interests/causes when registering
Your site originally required volunteers to select three causes and three interests when registering. This is no longer a requirement, and it will make registration even easier on new users.
Files can now be used to answer hours' questions
Managers can now request that volunteers upload a file when a user answers hour-submission questions.
Joining a user group includes a confirmation page
When a user signs up for a user group, they'll be shown the user group description and asked to confirm their choice. This new step will ensure that they know what they're signing up for, and they'll know when they've completed the process.
New features and updates for the Service Learning Module
Update to the user experience
Update to the SLM user filter
The SLM section of the user filter has been updated to better reflect recent changes to the SLM.
The ReDI System
You can now establish a dedicated disaster-response site
In time of a disaster-relief effort, it’s important to have accurate information about your volunteers and how they can help. With our new ReDI System, you can establish disaster needs and initiatives on a site specifically intended for disaster response. You can ask detailed questions of your volunteers when they register so you know what tools they may have and what they can do. You can also filter for volunteers with specific skills or equipment, and quickly contact volunteers who meet your needs.
Unique registration step for disaster profile
The disaster profile is a unique step in the ReDI registration process. Here the volunteer will enter information that will be especially helpful in time of disaster. This profile provides data that enables you to filter for volunteers with specific skills, experience, or equipment.
Updates to disaster-response skills
Based on feedback from clients, we've updated our list of disaster-response skills to better reflect communities' needs. This will allow for a better match when signing up for the site.
Update to the user filter
If you have the ReDI System, your site's user filter enables you to find a volunteers with certain skills. You can use the the filter to send email blasts as well.