Now that your Hub's look and feel are customized, it's time to start creating your event structure.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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 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 Event Groups tile in the main menu (Figure 1).
Figure 1. The Event Groups page allows you to create categories for your events.
Click the Create New Event Group button to open a blank Event Group, as shown in Figure 2. Enter an event category name in the Event Group Name field. For example, if you're building a brand new site and you have a number of permanent locations where you hold regular events, you might enter the first location here. Locations are a common starting point for organizations spread out across multiple cities or states (e.g., if you hold opportunities in Dallas and Amarillo, you might enter those first here so you can segment your opportunities by location). If your organization has one main location/area where volunteer opportunities are held and you prefer to drive your reporting capability by program type, activity or department, you might enter those programs, activities or departments as your site's first level of Event Groups.
Figure 2. The New Event Group page allows you to create new event groups to categorize your volunteer opportunities.
The Make This a Subgroup of field allows you to select an existing Event Group as the parent of your new Event Group; therefore, the new Event Group would be listed as a sub-group inside the existing parent group. For your first basic categories, leave the Make This a Subgroup of as "All Events."
Check the Show as a filter in schedule checkbox to have the Event Group available as a filter in the Volunteer View drop-down above your schedule of activities so volunteers can use those to jump straight to what interests them. We recommend checking this box for your first tier of Event Groups.
After entering your first Event Group's details, click on the Save button.
From the Event Groups page, you can now create an Event Group directly as a sub-group of an existing group by clicking the ellipsis (...) button beside the group you want to add a sub-group to and selecting "Add Subgroup" from the menu that appears. You can also edit an existing group by selecting the "Edit Event Group" option from that menu (Figure 3).
Figure 3. After creating your Event Groups, click on the ellipsis button for full options. This example already has three sub-event groups underneath the Back-on-Track Store event group.
Now that you've built event groups, it's important to understand the impact of that structure. Understanding the impact of your event groups on site's functionality can help you make key decisions regarding the structure and number of levels within your Event Groups.
As you build your Event Groups, it's critical that you mind the DOs and DON'Ts of creating this structure:
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 any events, since Event Groups provide the basic structure for your events and help you to organize them as they are created. Creating your entire event group structure first will save you a lot of time and effort!
Once you're finished building your basic volunteer opportunity categories as first-level Event Groups, remember to create sub-groups under them by clicking Create New Event Group and selecting an existing first-level group from the Make this a subgroup of drop-down (Figure 3 shows an example of a parent Event Group with three nested sub-groups).
Once you have built your Event Groups in your site, you will be able to take advantage of these crucial VolunteerHub features:
- 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.
To create an event, click on one of the event groups you just created, navigate to the Events tile, or return to the Dashboard page (NOTE: clicking on an Event Group brings you to its corresponding Events page).
On the Events page for the event group (or on the Dashboard), click on the Create 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 selecting selecting an Event Type (Figure 5). If this opportunity happens only once and not again, you would select the Event Type "One-Time Event" and enter the start/end date and times of the event on the following page. Our store position occurs every week, so we'll make a "Recurrence 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 template, the next page after you save the event will allow you to choose how often and for how long the event occurs.
Figure 5. Build your event as either a single (one-time) occurrence or a recurring opportunity.
Next, provide a name for the event and/or shift in the Name of Event field (Figure 6).
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 Event Group field. This field should never be left as "All Events"; otherwise, it will be nearly impossible for volunteers to find the event, for you to find the event in your reports later, or for you to use functionality like landing pages or mass communications effectively.
Figure 6. Input the specifics of your event. Use the items listed to jump directly to that section.
In the Event Details section, 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.
Two more fields will also appear on the detail page of the event:
- 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. This person can also opt to be CCed on all registration emails to the event.
The Registration Details 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 deactivate self-registration entirely, select the 'No' option under Allow users to self-register (the event will be listed but will have no Sign Up button, allowing manual registration by admins only).
- Self-Registration Cut-Off: Selecting an option other than 'No cut-off,' deactivates 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 Cut-Off option (keep "No cut-off" selected).
- Self-Cancellation Cut-Off: Selecting an option other than "No cut-off" disables the Cancel button for registered users a selected amount of time before the event starts. This makes it so that volunteers can no longer cancel their registration a certain amount of time before the event starts.
- Event Visibility: Selecting to "Hide this event..." hides the event from anyone who wouldn't normally see a Sign Up button (either because the event is full, all of its slots are reserved, or the Sign Up button is deactivated).
- Hours Self-Reporting: Choosing "Allowed" lets volunteers 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 Approve Hours page for you to approve. Most activities should be set to "Not Allowed" to ensure volunteers are getting their hours by checking in via OnSite/Kiosk, upon registration to the event, or via manual entry by an admin following the use of a Sign-In Sheet. If Hours Self-Reporting is 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 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.
- Confirmation Message: This text displays on the final completion screen of registration. Users are given the option to have this information emailed to them as well as links for adding the event to their calendar and posting to Facebook/Twitter. You can also check "Send confirmation email to event contact" to copy the event contact on any registration or " Send cancellation email to event contact" for cancellation emails from the event. This message is included in an email to the user in the following three cases:
- Following registration, users may click a button to receive message in an email.
- Users receive this automatically if manually registered by an administrator within an event.
- If automatically moved from waitlisted to registered.
- Reminder Email: This email is sent three days before the event's Start Time by default, but the amount of time 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 message reminder to registered users a specific amount of time before the event starts (three days by default).
- Thank You Email: These are sent automatically based on how hours are tracked. Users receive this email if they haven't opted-out.
- If hours are assigned to users automatically (either when registered or by checking in via Onsite/Kiosk) the 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.
- If hours are to be manually entered by an admin after the event, the system allows up to three days for hours to be entered and will then send the email.
- The Waivers section is available by default to all Enterprise customers and is an available add-on for Plus and Pro. Select an applicable Adult Waiver to have those 18 and older electronically accept your waiver when they register for the event. Selecting a Minor Waiver instructs those under 18 to print the waiver, have a parent/guardian sign it, and bring it with them to the event.
- Minimum Age: Events can be set to specify a minimum age for volunteers to be permitted to sign up. If this field is left blank, no restriction is added.
If you built a single-occurrence (one-time) event, click the Save button at the top. 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 Template, clicking the Save & Continue button at the top will take you to the Instances page of that template, where you can then add future dates and times on which the recurring opportunity will occur (Figure 7).
Figure 7. You will next add instances (dates and times) to your recurrence TEMPLATE.
To add instances to your event, you will need to enter details into each of the numbered field sets in Figure 7 above. To begin, press the Add Instances button.
- Instance Time: Choose your shift time. For example, if the activity is scheduled for 8:00 am through 12:00 pm each day it will be available, enter 8:00 am as the start time and 12:00 pm as the end time.
- Instance 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.
- 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 Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only.
- Instance Dates:
- Starts On: Using the pop-up calendar, select the first date as of which instances should become available. For example, if our first shift should occur on or after January 1st, we would select January 1st here.
- Ends: Choose the top option to build a specific number of instances, 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 Add button to activate the selected details. In our example above, we are activating 8:00 am - 12:00 pm shifts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only. After clicking Add you should see your instances populate the page (Figure 8).
Once the instances have been added, you can either edit or delete specific instances by clicking on them, or add more instances to the same template.
Figure 8. Instances will appear on the TEMPLATE 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 tile and click on the desired event name. This will show you the Registered Users page of the event, which also includes other event options (Figure 9).
- Ellipsis: Located in the upper right, this button allows for:
- Printing Sign In Sheets
- Viewing Related Instances (if the event is part of a Recurrence Template)
- Deleting the Event
- Edit: Click this button to edit the details of your event.
- Registered Users: This is the main area of the page. This lists all users registered for the event. Other options include:
- Register a User: Manually add a user to the event.
- Waitlist: (Click the ellipsis and choose "Edit User Group Reservation" to allow this option to change) Turn this on to allow volunteers to join a waitlist after the event has reached its slot limit.
- Reservation Overflow: (Click the ellipsis and choose "Edit User Group Reservation" to allow this option to change) Turn this on to allow the number of users registering with a group to exceed their reservation limit (the total number of registered users will not exceed the slot limit). This option has no affect if the event has no reservations.
- Ellipsis next to registered user: Allows for editing their registration or removing them from the event.
- Record Hours: Click this link to view and/or manually adjust hours for the users who have registered for the event.
- Text: Send a text message to everyone who has 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.
- Add Reservation: Reserve slots for a particular user group.
Figure 9. Register a user manually for the event or print a sign-in sheet from the Registered Users page of the event.
We'll go into the rest of the options on this page in greater detail later in Part 5 of this tutorial.