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.
Click on the User Groups tile on the Main Menu (Figure 1). You’ll then see the User Groups page.
Figure 1. The User Groups page lists all user groups in your VolunteerHub site.
Click on the Create New User Group button to create a new group (Figure 2).
Figure 2. The New User Group wizard 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.
You can create a hierarchy of child User Groups within parent groups in VolunteerHub. To add this 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.
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 two 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. Several groups can be 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 need or I have) rather than simply listing the experience; this makes group selection much more straightforward to the volunteer.
- 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 our Building an Onboarding Process Guide.
Then, enter a description for the group in the User Group Administrative 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 permissions here).
The User Group Public Description is also an optional field. This field is only used for User Groups set to the Membership Control of Checkbox. If set to Checkbox, this description will be under the name of the User Group in a list presented to users to self-select into. If the group is set to any other Membership Control, this description is not displayed.
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.
- None: 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.
- Admins Only: 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.
- Checkbox: Select this option to allow users to select the group from a list during the initial registration process. This is recommended for any user-defined membership, such as skill/interest or to tag those requesting community service. Any text inputted into the Public Description will display in the list to add further clarification to volunteers as to the purpose of each group. 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.
- 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.
Please see this article for more information about the option to 'Allow new users to join this group via the kiosk'.
Click on the Save button to save the new group.
You can now begin adding users to your new User Group (or another existing User Group ). After saving the above User Group, it is added to your User Group structure. Click on the group to enter the summary page.
Click on the Add User button (Figure 3) to create a new user, or click on an existing user from the Users page to edit an existing user.
Figure 3. To manually add new users to the system, go to the Users page and click Create New User or from a User Group click Add User.
Enter all necessary information for the user's account, such as the volunteer's username, password, name and email address. In the User Group Memberships section, select the User Group(s) to which you'd like the user to belong (Figure 4). (Begin typing the name of that group into the field and then select it.) To remove the user from a User Group, simply click the remove (X) icon 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 button 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 "None" option is not selected from the Membership Control field for that 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 button in the top right. In the User Group Memberships section, select the group(s) to which you would like to add the user. Click on the Save button when finished.
Remember that you can search for a user, event or group quickly by clicking the search (magnifying glass) icon in the upper-right corner of the Admin View and typing the name of the user, event or group into the box that appears.
Once you have built your User Groups in your Hub, you will be able to take advantage of these essential VolunteerHub features:
- Text Users/Email Users: Send a mass text or an email message to all users belonging to a particular User Group by selecting a User Group from the User Groups page, clicking the ellipsis (...) button in the top-right corner, and selecting either "Sent Text to Users" or "Email Users," respectively.
- 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 branding 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)