Initiatives are used to organize needs. Learn how United Way affiliates like yours can make the most of Initiatives to improve the volunteer experience and collect useful data:

What Should You Use Initiatives For?

Initiatives allow you to group needs in a way that works for your United Way. You can group needs by:

  • Program: When you have multiple needs and roles on different days (even different locations), but you want to group them under a specific program, like your Community Schools Mentorship program.

  • Special Event: When you have large events with a variety of needs and roles that you would like grouped together, like “Days of Impact” or “MLK Day Call to Service.”

  • Volunteer Segment: When you want to group needs that are great for a group of volunteers, like teens or affinity groups. 

More ideas for your Initiatives

  • Seasonal programs: This is a great place to promote volunteerism during a certain time of year. For example, you can create a Summer of Volunteering Initiative to house all needs you’d like to focus on over the summer months. Or create a Season of Giving Initiative for the winter holiday months when volunteerism tends to spike. 

  • Special Focus Initiatives: Does your United Way and its agencies want to focus especially on a certain type of needs, like giving children the tools they need to succeed in school? House all your child-focused needs from different agencies, for example, in an Initiative that benefits your community’s school children. Whatever your organization’s (and your partner agencies’) focus, you can create an Initiative so volunteers easily find all needs associated with this focus. 

Communicating Your Initiative

Initiatives are a great way to promote a group of needs and make these types of needs easier to find. Once you create an Initiative to group needs, it’s easy to share your Initiative with your volunteers. Here are a few ways to communicate the Initiative:

  • Share the Initiative link: Each Initiative has its own site link that leads directly to your Initiative’s landing page. You can find this link in your Manager panel, located in the “Needs” tab: 

You can copy and paste this link anywhere you communicate with your volunteers. We recommend sending an email blast that features your Initiative and some of the opportunities associated with it. Don’t forget to include the Initiative Link and a call to action inviting them to check out more of the needs within the Initiative. 

  • Spotlights: Use your site’s Spotlights feature to draw attention to your Initiative and invite users to check out its exciting opportunities. Don’t forget to copy the Initiatives link in the “Target URL” field when creating a new spotlight:

You can even include this Spotlight within your site’s Navigation menu, so these needs are a quick click away: 

To include the Spotlight in your Navigation menu, simply select “Show in Navigation” when creating a new Spotlight in Site Settings:

Gathering the Information You Need

One of the benefits of grouping needs by Initiative is you can collect and access data specific to this group of needs. You can also collect Initiative-specific information from volunteers who respond to any need within the Initiative, and from agencies who add their need to an Initiative.

How to ask your volunteers and agencies questions:

When you click on an Initiative in your Needs menu, you’ll find a “Questions” tab:

Within the “Questions” tab, you will notice two types of questions options, “Initiative Response Questions” and “Initiative Need Questions”:

The Initiative Response Questions are prompted when a volunteer signs up for a need that belongs to the selected Initiative. You can ask any questions that can help you better manage and place volunteers. For example, you may ask your volunteers, “Do you have a Teaching ESL certification?” if you are running a school tutoring program. A response question can also be as simple as “What is your t-shirt size” if you will be providing participating volunteers with t-shirts. 

The Initiative Need Questions are prompted when an agency posts a need to your Initiative. You may ask the agency, “Are there any specific skill(s) required for volunteers to complete this project?” 

Finding the reports you need:

Another way to access Initiative-specific information is to check out your Reports. There are several reports that you can use to get a more comprehensive understanding of your Initiative. Here are two Initiative-related reports you may find useful:

  • “Need Responses by Initiative”: This report allows you to view all response to the needs within an Initiative. Within this report, you’ll find the agency name, need, and user contact information. You can use this report to verify respondents’ email and phone numbers before the Initiative need occurs. 

  • “Initiative Summary”: In this report, you will find data organized by Initiative together in a single table. You can view data such as:

    • the number of active needs

    • total volunteer responses

    • total hours for each Initiative 

This information is especially helpful for when you want to demonstrate the total impact of your Initiative with your community and funders. You’ll be able to share engaging statistics like, “75 dedicated volunteers contributed 225 hours to helping children succeed in school!” This report is also a useful tool when you want to see which Initiatives were most popular, based on volunteer responses (and which you should repeat next year, for example). 

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