VolunteerHub can be configured to support a variety of approval processes for onboarding and role limitations. This article will show you how to get more out of your user groups and help you automate some of your more manual processes and consolidate your volunteer management platforms to save you time and help reduce errors and confusion.

Click here to access the Building an Onboarding Process webinar video.


1. Outline the onboarding process you want.

The first step is to decide what you’d like your onboarding process for new volunteers to be in a “perfect world.” When drafting your process, don’t worry about system capabilities, staffing requirements or how you might build it into your VolunteerHub site. Just worry about getting your process down on paper. For example, consider the two sample processes below.

Example 1: Simple Onboarding Process 

This first process shows a very simple onboarding process that requires approval of new volunteer accounts before allowing users to sign up for opportunities:

1. New volunteer creates account in VolunteerHub.
2. Coordinator reviews recently created account for approval.
3. Once approved, new volunteer is notified and can now sign up for any opportunity.

Example 2: Complex Onboarding Process

This second example describes a more complex onboarding process for an organization that screens volunteers and restricts access to events based on the role(s) for which the volunteer is trained:

1. New volunteer creates account in VolunteerHub.
2. Coordinator reviews recently created account for approval.
3. Once approved, new volunteer is notified and signs up for group orientation.
4. New volunteer completes background check.
5. Coordinator approves new volunteer for training.
6. New volunteer signs up for and completes role-based training for one or more roles.
7. Coordinator approves volunteer to sign up for roles in which he or she is trained.
8. New volunteer signs up for opportunities in the approved roles.

In both of these sample processes, volunteers are unable to gain full access to the VolunteerHub site until completing the onboarding process. This is something that is fairly easy to achieve in VolunteerHub, and many of the steps can be automated to a degree (e.g., automatic notifications may be sent once a volunteer’s account has been activated/approved).

As you outline your preferred onboarding process, note that the details of your process will likely vary from those above (e.g., you want volunteers to sign up for orientations before their account goes through an approval process, or you want all volunteers to access Special Events regardless of onboarding status).

Example 3: Utilizing Landing Pages

This third example is most commonly utilized by organizations that have different onboarding process for either different departments or physical locations.  This would involve creating an Event Group and User Group structure with top-tier Event/User Groups for each location or department.  Each department/location would have their own New Applicant user group(s).  A Landing Page would be created for each department/location, with the options set for 'Automatically add new users to the following user group(s)' set to their specific New Applicant process.  Click here for more information about this process.

2. Build user groups for each step in the process.

The second step is to build at least one new user group for every step of your process. As you build the groups, consider how you’d like volunteers to get to those steps. This is a very important part of the process so you can see which users belong to each group at any time. You can even email or run reports on all the individuals in a particular step of the onboarding process.

For example, if you’re creating a basic onboarding process similar to “Example 1” above that requires volunteers to undergo account review before being approved to sign up for events, simply create one user group called “New Users.” Then, once you’ve approved your volunteers, you’d simply take them out of the group to activate their accounts.

For a more complex onboarding process, on the other hand, you might build user groups like the ones in the screenshot below. These groups more closely reflect the onboarding process outlined in “Example 2”:

Build User Groups for each step in your onboarding process:

In the image above, notice that each step of the onboarding process is clearly defined. Users would move from one step into the next until being fully approved for their specific role(s). This is a great process for organizations that need to restrict access to their opportunities heavily, perhaps because those opportunities require specialized knowledge or experience (e.g., medical opportunities) or because the opportunities require working with children or highly secure information and facilities.

As you build your user groups, consider how users might be added to the groups. For categories like the “5. Needs Role-Based Training” group in the screenshot above, it wouldn’t make sense for users to belong to that group at all, so you’d select the first option under Membership Control when creating the group to block users from belonging to it. However, an administrator might manually add users to its subgroups (e.g., “Needs Manager Training”) once they attend an orientation, or perhaps you might hand out join codes or landing pages to give users access to training opportunities.

You may also find it necessary to add questions to your User Form to track administrative notes regarding the user’s onboarding status, qualifications, certifications, interview notes, etc. This can be done easily by adding a question with the admin-only option selected in the question’s Visibility and Editability fields.

3. Restrict access to your events for specific user groups.

Restricting access to events can be done in a variety of ways, and the options you choose to employ in your site really depend on 1) the features that come with your current VolunteerHub subscription plan and 2) the workflow you prefer. There are a total of three ways to restrict access to events, each of which are described below.

Note that if you would simply like to block all new users from registering for events until you have reviewed/approved their account, simply create the "New Users" user group and send a message to VolunteerHub Support requesting that we block access to events until users are removed from this group. You do not need to have a Pro or Enterprise account for access to this option.

Group Reservations

Group reservations are the most common way to limit access to events and are set individually for each event (though the Multi-Event Editor can be used to add reservations across a large number of events at once). For example, if you would like only volunteers in your Approved Mentors user group to see and register for a mentoring event, simply add a reservation for the Approved Mentors group to the event, reserving all available slots.

Once you’ve reserved your events for only users in an approved volunteering group, only the users who belong to that group will be able to register. Therefore, you will need to have a method in place for users to join that group before trying to register (either by join code, landing page or manual entry).

For detailed instructions on how to create group reservations, please see part 5 of the Getting Started Guide.

Landing Pages

Landing pages are also a great way to limit access, though they are not recommended for organizations with a large number of volunteering roles that require limited access.

To use landing pages to restrict access, simply create a landing page with the desired features. For example, if you want to have the landing page show only certain events, choose an Event Group behavior from the Behavior section. If you want the page to only show events reserved for a particular user group and/or automatically join volunteers who visit the page to a specific user group (e.g., Approved Mentors), user the User Group behavior.

For detailed instructions on how to create landing pages, please see part 6 of the Getting Started Guide.

Advanced Permissions

Any organization with a current Pro or Enterprise plan has access to a feature called Advanced Permissions, which allows for the addition of custom permissions on any user group in the site. This feature can be used to grant permission to events in certain event groups only for users who belong to specific groups. For example, you could request that only a user who is added to an “Approved Drivers” user group is able to see all the events in a “Drivers” event group, rather than having all events be visible to all users. That means you would not have to add a reservation for any Driver events going forward (the permissions would be automatic once a user is added to the required user group).

Administrators of VolunteerHub sites with a Pro or Enterprise subscription may request new permissions be added to a group by sending us a message with 1) the name of the affected user group(s) and 2) the access users in the group should have (e.g., the ability to see events in a particular event group).

4. Auto-enroll all new users in the first step.

Once you’re ready to “flip the switch” (i.e., start moving volunteers through your new approval process), you need to have the site automatically add all new user accounts to the user group that represents the first step in your onboarding process (e.g., “New Users”). To do this,

  1. Navigate to the Workflows page
  2. Click 'Create New Workflow'
  3. Give the Workflow a name
  4. Choose the Trigger 'Initialize User'
  5. For Landing Page, choose 'Site wide'
  6. For Action, choose 'Add User to User Group
  7. Select the User Group or Groups for new users
  8. Click 'Save'

5. Explain your process to new volunteers.

Your site’s onboarding process is now ready to be used! Help your volunteers become acquainted with your new process by clearly stating all your onboarding expectations, such as age requirements, steps in the process, required training sessions, required background checks, etc., in the New User Message of all landing pages accessed by the volunteers who must undergo that process. If your volunteers don’t know what’s coming, it could lead to a bad first impression and the loss of a potential volunteer.

The User Form is also a great place to remind users that, once they complete their application and click “Next” at the end of it, their account will need to be activated by a volunteer coordinator. You can do this by inserting a “Header” type question at the very end of your User Form, as this allows you to enter text or images into the form without including a field for the user to enter information into. Alternatively, you can use a “Text” question and have the user initial as a way of stating that they understand the upcoming onboarding process (a better option for organizations requiring training or background checks).