03. Creating Your Event Structure
Posted by Gabrielle Long, Last modified by Matthew Murphy on 08 April 2019 04:56 PM
Now that your Hub's look and feel are customized, it's time to start creating your event structure.
Building Event Groups
First, you will need to set up your event groups. Event groups are administrator-facing categories that help you group your opportunities and keep the site organized while also driving administrative functionality.
Think of the way folders work in a computer: You build folders, with sub-folders and sub-sub-folders inside, to organize your files. Event groups are quite similar, as they allow you to organize your events (i.e., files), within a hierarchy of categories. The event group structure you build is more than just a way to organize your site - it also determines some of the functionality you'll have regarding reporting, emailing and landing page options. Once complete, your event group structure can make it easier for volunteers to find the events they're interested in as well as make it possible for you to build more granular reports and send emails to users who registered for certain opportunities.
When building event groups, you will typically start with groups for your basic volunteer programs or, in some cases, your organization's main locations. You can then continue to build a hierarchy of sub-groups for specific sub-programs or sub-locations, as well as break them into sub-groups to indicate specific tasks or positions volunteers can hold for each position or location.
To get started, click on the Events tab, then click the Event Groups sub-tab. Then, click the Add Event Group link (Figure 1).
Do list WHAT your volunteers will sign up for.
We recommend starting with your programs at the first level in your hierarchy, then listing each of the volunteer areas within those programs as sub-groups, then in the third layer listing specific activities. You might even break some of the activities down into sub-activities or shifts.
Don't list WHO will be signing up for activities!
This is the most common mistake made by newer organizations. Be careful not to list opportunities by who (e.g., individuals, groups, teams) will participate.
Do show only high-level event groups as filters.
Showing every event group as a filter (via the Event Group Schedule View checkbox) is not only overwhelming to volunteers but also inhibits their ability to use the filter appropriately, making it more difficult for them to find opportunities in the schedule.
Don't delete event groups to hide them from the filter!
Deleting an event group makes it unavailable to administrators as well. Instead, simply click on the event group, click Edit and uncheck the Event Group Schedule View box if you want to maintain administrative access but still avoid showing that event group as a filter in the drop-down.
It is important that you create all of your event groups before creating events, since event groups provide the basic structure for your events and help you to organize them as they are created.
Once you're finished building the basic first-level event groups, remember to create sub-groups under them by clicking Add Event Group and selecting an existing first-level group from the Parent Event Group drop-down. The example above shows a completed event group structure with 3 hierarchical levels.
Once you have built your event groups in your Hub, you will be able to take advantage of these great VolunteerHub features:
- Event Group Emails: Every event group doubles as an instant mailing list! Send email blasts to all users who registered for an event in a particular event group by selecting an event group and clicking on the Email page of that group. From that page, you can email everyone who registered for an event in that event group that occurred or will occur during a specific date range. This is a feature that allows you to promote upcoming activities to volunteers with experience, or update volunteers signed up for the activity in the future.
- Event Group Reporting: Every event group doubles as a reporting filter for itself and its sub-groups, allowing you to run reports for events within a specific event group and its sub-groups. This is the largest impact of your event group structure. This is discussed further in Part 8 of this tutorial.
- Event Group Landing Pages: Create pages that show only the events within a specific event group and its sub-groups. This is discussed further in Part 6 of this tutorial and typically applies only to organizations that need to segment their site by location or separately run departments where cross-pollination of volunteers might be a problem.
Now that your event group structure is in place, you can begin adding specific volunteer opportunities or shifts (called "events" in Volunteer Hub) within each event group.
Check out the short video below on creating events, or continue reading below for step-by-step written instructions.
To create an event, click on one of the event groups you just created, or return to the main All Events page. For this example, we will add a morning shift for a front desk greeter position under the "Downtown" event group.
On the Summary page for the event group (or under "Upcoming Events" on the All Events page), click on the Add Event link (Figure 4).
Figure 4. Add events to an Event Group by clicking on the Add Event link on that Event Group's Summary page.
Begin building your event by providing a name for the event and/or shift in the Event Name field (Figure 5). In this example, we will create a recurring store assistant position.
Figure 5. Build your event as either a single (one-time) occurrence or a recurring opportunity.
Now select an Event Type. If this opportunity happens only once and not again, you would leave the Event Type set to "Single Occurrence" and enter the start/end date and times of the event. Our store position occurs every week, so we'll make a "Recurrence Master" (i.e., a template) and define the days and times (i.e., instances) on a separate page. This is great for opportunities that happen one or several times a week, one or more times a month, once every few months or even on an annual basis. If creating a master, the next page after you save the event will allow you to choose how often and for how long the event occurs.
Next, enter a short description of the event. This description will be shown in the list of events on the main page of your Hub. Finally, enter a detailed description of the event, which appears on the detail page of the event once the user clicks on the event name. This is a good place to list out details such as required experience, details about the position, etc. You may also leave this field blank if no further details of the position are necessary.
Three more fields will also appear on the detail page of the event:
- URL for Additional Information: Allows you to include a link to an external webpage the user can click to learn more.
- Location: Enter a general location for the event. If you enter a precise street address, you can check the provided checkbox to include an integrated map on the detail page.
- Event Contact: This defaults to whomever creates the event and will appear on the event detail page with a link to email that individual if the user has questions about the event. In addition, replies to automatic event emails will go to this user.
The most important thing you'll do when creating an event is to select the event group in which that event should be categorized using the Parent Event Group field. This field should never be left as "All Events" - otherwise, it will be nearly impossible to find or report on the event later.
If your site has the Volunteer View interface enabled, choose "Allowed" in the Hours Self-Reporting field to allow volunteers to report their hours remotely for the activity (for work-from-home opportunities). When they submit their hours for activities worked, those hours will appear in the Events > Approve Hours sub-tab for you to approve. Most activities will be set to "Not Allowed" to ensure volunteers are getting their hours through other means (e.g., checking in via OnSite/Kiosk). If enabled, users will be able to self-report up to 24 hours for each day the event is scheduled for. For example, an event scheduled from August 1st through August 3rd can have a maximum of 72 hours reported for each registrant.
To learn more about the Hours Self-Reporting feature, please review this FAQ on managing work-from-home opportunities.
The Registration section allows you to determine when, if at all, volunteers can register or cancel registration for the event.
- Event Slot Limit: Enter the maximum number of registrants allowed for the event/shift. Generally this should be greater than zero; otherwise the event will be listed as "Full." To disable self-registration entirely, uncheck the box beside the field (the event will be listed but will have no Sign Up button, allowing manual registration by admins only).
- Registration Cutoff: Check the box to enable one or both options. The first option disables the Sign Up button a selected amount of time before the event starts, while the second option disables the Cancel button for registered users a selected amount of time before the event starts. If your organization will allow walk-ins to check themselves in with Kiosk, we recommend against using the Self-Registration Cutoff option (leave this unchecked).
- Event Visibility: Check this box to make the event invisible to anyone who doesn't see a Sign Up button (either because the event is full, all of its slots are reserved or the Sign Up button is disabled).
The Email Notifications section allows you to customize the automatic emails that are sent to users who register for the event. By default, these emails will already contain the event name, date and time, but each contains an editable rich-text area where you can customize the message sent to the volunteer. Each of these emails can be disabled by unchecking the "Automatically send" box at the top of the corresponding email tab.
- Confirmation Email: This email is sent immediately after the user signs up for the event. We recommend copying your event's Detailed Description into this email so volunteers don't have to log into the system to view that information. You can also check "Carbon copy confirmation emails to the event contact" to copy the event contact on any registration or cancellation emails for the event.
- Reminder Email: This email is sent three days before the event's Start Time by default, but the number of days before the event that the reminder is sent can be changed. Again, we recommend copying your event's Detailed Description into this email so volunteers don't have to log into the system to view that information. You can also check the "Automatically send reminder SMS" box to send a text reminder to registered users a specific amount of time before the event starts (three days by default).
- Thank-You Email: This email is sent 24 hours after the event is over, which allows the coordinator ample time to adjust hours or registrations before the email is sent.
Click on the Save Event button when finished. If you built a single occurrence, your event will now appear in the Events list on the main page of your VolunteerHub site and should populate your event schedule. However, if you built a Recurrence Master, or recurring opportunity, you will be taken to the Instances page of that master to add dates and times (Figure 6).
Figure 6. You will next add instances (dates and times) to your recurrence master.
To add instances to your event, you will need to enter details into each of the numbered field sets in Figure 6 above.
- Recurrence Pattern: Select whether the activity will happen every certain number of days, such as every one day or every weekday (Daily); only on certain days of the week, such as Tuesdays and Fridays (Weekly); Once every month or every certain number of months, such as the third Sunday each month (Monthly); or around the same time every year, such as the first weekend day in August (Yearly). You will be able to fine-tune your selection using the Recurrence Frequency options.
- Starting/Ending Times: Choose your shift time. For instance, if the activity is scheduled for 8am through 1pm each day it will be available, enter 8am as the start time and 1pm as the end time.
- Recurrence Start Date: Using the pop-up calendar, select the first date as of which instances should become available. For instance, if our first shift should occur on or after June 1st, we would select June 1st here.
- Recurrence Frequency: This field changes depending on the option you select under the Recurrence Pattern field and is used to fine-tune on which days you're building events. For example, if you selected a Weekly pattern, you might choose a frequency that occurs every one week on Tuesdays and Thursdays only.
- Recurrence End Date: Choose the top option to build a specific number of instances (max = 30), or choose the bottom option to choose a date as of which instances will be built. The final instance activated will occur on or before this date, depending on the pattern and frequency you chose.
Once the above are complete, click the Activate Instances button to activate the selected details. In our example above, we are activating 8:00am - 1:00pm shifts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only from June 1st through the end of the year. After clicking Activate Instances, you should see your instances populate the bottom of the page (Figure 7).
From here, you can either edit or delete specific instances by clicking on them or add more instances to the same master.
Figure 7. Instances will appear at the bottom of the instances page after being activated.
Once users begin registering for your events, you can view a list of all those users who registered for the event, print out a sign-in sheet or manually register a user for the event. Click on the Events tab and click on the desired event name. This will show you the Summary page of the event, along with several other sub-tab options, each corresponding to a different page associated with that event.
- Summary: Click this link to view the details of the event.
- Edit: Click this link to edit the details of your event or to delete it.
- Registered Users: Click this link to view a list of users who have registered for the event, print out a sign-in sheet or manage advanced registration options for the event.
- Hours: Click this link to manually adjust hours for the users who have registered for the event.
- Email: Click this link to email everyone who has registered for the event. This is handy for updating volunteers on changed event dates, locations, times or other details.
Click on the Registered Users sub-tab (Figure 8).
Figure 8. Register a user manually for the event or print a sign-in sheet from the Registered Users page of the event.
Here, you can view a list of users who have registered for your event or manually register a user for the event by first entering his or her name into the field beside the Add User button and then clicking the Add User button. This field automatically populates a list of matching user names once you've typed in a few letters, so you won't have to type the user's entire name in most cases - just click on the desired user's name and click Add User.
You can also click on one of the Sign-In Sheet buttons at the top of the section to generate a sign-in sheet for your users to check in and out with on the day of the event. The sign-in sheet can be opened as a PDF and printed, or you can export it to Excel to make changes before printing it.
We'll go over the rest of the options in this page later in Part 5 of this tutorial.
Now that you've created a basic event structure and registered a user for your first event, it is time to build User Groups.