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04. Creating and Managing User Groups
Posted by Gabrielle Long, Last modified by Matthew Murphy on 08 April 2019 04:56 PM

In this section we’ll introduce user groups, which help you organize volunteers with "tags" on their accounts. User groups can be used to organize users into volunteer groups for churches, community organizations, schools or businesses, as well as to group (or "tag") your users by teams or things in common, such as skill, interest, spoken languages, availability or any other logical grouping.

As with event groups, user groups can be essential to your site's functionality, and they actually provide even more functionality than event groups do, including reporting, emailing and text messaging, as well as options for creating custom landing pages, event reservations and even a custom onboarding process if your site has access to the Advanced Permissions feature.

Step 1.

Click on the People tab on the Navigation Bar, then click on the User Groups sub-tab located just below it. You’ll then see the User Groups page (Figure 1).

Figure 1. The User Groups page lists all user groups in your VolunteerHub site.

Step 2.

Click on the Add User Group button (highlighted as step #3 in Figure 1 above). You’ll see the New User Group page (Figure 2).

Figure 2. The New User Group page allows you to create a new user group.

Begin by entering the name of your user group in the User Group Name field. For example, you may want to create a user group for a corporate sponsor or group of volunteers you work closely with. For this example, we will enter Wells Fargo. Then, enter a description for the group in the User Group Description field (optional). The description is visible only to administrators, so it's a great place to keep notes on your group contact's details or simply describe how you're using the group internally (we recommend noting any special Multiform questions or permissions here).

You can create a hierarchy of child user groups within parent user groups in VolunteerHub. To add this user group as a sub-group under an existing group, select the existing group from the Parent User Group field. To leave this group as a top-level user group, keep the default value. If your group is one of many corporate groups (or one of many similar groups), those groups should always belong under a common Parent User Group. Below are some common types of groups, along with screenshots.

Below are the most common types of user groups created in VolunteerHub.

  • Corporate: This is the most common application of user groups in the system. You can build individual groups for each business that provides volunteers with your organization. Doing so allows you to reserve special events, create custom communications and build special landing pages for those groups. In the example below, we have three user groups under a common parent group, "Corporate Groups."
  • Community: This is the second-most common type of user group created in VolunteerHub and can denote membership to schools, church groups, community programs and other local group affiliations. Notice there are several hierarchical levels in the structure below. Several groups are added below the common parent group "Schools," while "Schools" and "Churches" both belong to a parent group "Community Groups." This allows a greater level of granularity when reporting or sending mass communications from VolunteerHub.
  • Skill/Interest: A different approach to using user groups that is growing quickly in popularity is that of the self-selected group. Skill and interest groups can be created as a means of collecting user skill/interest data and then acting on that data (e.g., through reports, event reservations or mass emails). While the User Form can be used to collect data, there is no instant emailing or report-filtering functionality currently built into the responses to those questions. However, if you create skills and interests as user groups, you will be able to email, report on and reserve events for all users with a common interest or skill. We want users to add themselves to these groups, so we've put the name in the first person (I am or I have) rather than simply listing the experience; this makes group selection much more straightforward to the volunteer.
  • Availability/Language: Some organizations like to know their volunteers’ availabilities when planning for large or recurring opportunities to avoid being short-staffed. By building user groups to represent availability, you can quickly view and communicate with all users with specific availability. This can also be used for specific languages (e.g., "I speak Spanish," "I speak French," and so on). Again, we've used the first person for the group names.
  • Onboarding Process: You can also build an onboarding process for new volunteers right into your user group structure. This is a more advanced use of this feature and is explained in more detail in this Support News article.

The option selected in the Membership Control field determines how users will be added to the new user group. As an administrator, you always have the option to add users to user groups manually. However, this field can help you automate that process.

  • Users may not be added to this group: Select this option to prevent all users from being added to the group. This option is useful when creating a parent group under which you want all users to belong to a child category. For example, if you have several corporate groups, use this option for a “Corporate Groups” parent group so users aren’t added inside the broad category by mistake.
  • Only administrators may add users to this group: Select this option to allow users to be added to the group only through manual entry by an administrator. This is most useful for controlled approval groups, Superusers (administrators) and groups you’ve selected to auto-enroll through a landing page. We highly recommend this option for all your volunteer groups, in conjunction with a custom landing page.
  • Users may join this group by selecting it from a list: Select this option to allow users to select the group from a list during the initial registration process. This is recommended for some community groups like schools and churches as well as any user-defined membership, such as skill/interest or availability groups. This will enable users to add themselves to the user group by checking the box beside it in a list of user groups with the same Membership Control option applied, and users will be able to check more than one option. We do not recommend this option for corporate groups.
  • Users may join this group by entering this Join Code: Select this option to create a custom join code, which users will be prompted for during the initial registration process (you will need to provide the join code to potential users, such as through email, mailers, word of mouth, group website, etc. or to your contact for that specific group). This will enable users to add themselves to the user group by entering the join code you provide to their organization and, if applicable, users may enter more than one join code. Note that this option is not as user-friendly as the landing page option, but IS useful for approving a large group of new volunteers after they've attended an orientation in some cases.

Users may also be added to an existing user group automatically through the use of landing pages, which we will discuss in Part 6 of this tutorial.

Click on the Save User Group button to save the new group.

Additional details on managing your user groups can be found in the Support News article, A Quick Guide to User Groups, as well as in our recorded webinar on managing user groups.

Step 3.

You can now begin adding users to your new user group (or another existing user group). After saving the above user group, a summary page for that user group will appear.

For a brief tutorial on adding users, watch the following video tutorial or continue to the written instructions below it.

Click on the Add User button in the Users section (Figure 3) to create a new user, or click on an existing user from the list of users on the People > All Users page to edit an existing user.

Figure 3. To manually add new users to the system, go to the People tab or a user group and click on Add User.

Enter all necessary information for the user's account, such as the volunteer's username, password, name and email address. From the Group Membership field at the bottom of the screen, select the user group(s) to which you'd like the user to belong (Figure 4). To remove the user from a user group, simply uncheck the box next to that group. 

When adding a new user to the system manually as an administrator, you may bypass any of the required fields with the exception of the Username field.

Figure 4. Add users to one or more user groups.

Click on the Save User button at the bottom of the screen to add the new user in the system. If you entered an email address for the user, saving their account will trigger an Account Creation Confirmation email to be sent to the user along with a link to your site.

You can also manually add existing users to a user group, as long as the "Users may not be added to this group" option is not selected from the Membership Control field for that user group. To do this, click on the name of the user you would like to add to a specific user group and click on the Edit sub-tab. Now, scroll down to the bottom of the page and select the group(s) to which you would like to add the user. Click on the Save User button when finished.

Remember that you can search for a user, event or group quickly by typing the name into the Search field at the top of the site.

Once you have built your user groups in your Hub, you will be able to take advantage of these great VolunteerHub features:

  • User Group Emails: Send email blasts to all users belonging to a particular user group by navigating to the People tab > User Groups sub-tab, selecting a user group and clicking on the Email sub-tab.
  • User Group Reservations: Reserve some or all available volunteer slots in an event for one or more specific user groups. This is discussed further in Part 5 of this tutorial.
  • User Group Landing Pages: Join users automatically to user groups and tailor the events and color scheme to that group via a custom landing page. This is discussed further in Part 6 of this tutorial.
  • User Group Reporting: Run reports based on user group membership. This is discussed further in Part 8 of this tutorial

Now you're ready to start managing your volunteers' event participation in greater detail.


(Continue to Part 5: Managing Event Participation)

(Back to Part 3: Creating Your Event Structure)
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