Limit what users see, gain email and reporting functionality and allow users to provide interests, skills and volunteer availability via user groups.

If you haven’t created many user groups, you may be missing out on a lot of functionality that VolunteerHub has to offer. User groups are much more than simple buckets for categorizing your users; they provide you with the functionality you need to run your volunteer program smoothly in VolunteerHub.

User groups can allow you to:

  • Run much more granular reports
  • Reserve an entire event for a business or community group
  • Create a new volunteer approval process
  • Apply training prerequisites to your events
  • Send communications to users with particular interests or skills
  • Reserve event slots for users with specific skills
  • Quickly view all users with common availability

This guide explains how to create a user group structure to support the above email, reporting and event reservation functionality in your site:

  1. Creating Various Types of User Groups
  2. Choosing a Membership Control Option
  3. Building a Functional User Group Structure
  4. Applying User Groups to Your Volunteer Program

Creating Various Types of User Groups

While they can, user groups don’t have to mimic a real-world group, such as a corporate and community group. User groups can also be used to tag users with common interests or availability. Remember – users can belong to more than one group at a time, and there is no limit as to the number of groups and sub-groups you can create in your site.

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

  • Volunteer Groups: This is the most common (and most literal) application of user groups in the system. You can build individual groups for each local business, church, club and school that provides volunteers to your organization. Doing so allows you to reserve special events, create targeted communications and build special landing pages for those groups. 
  • Onboarding/Approval Process: User groups can be used to track where a new volunteer is in your onboarding process. Use them to engage volunteers based on what step they're in, restrict access to opportunities based on membership in specific approved groups or report on a more specific set of volunteers.
  • Skill/Interest: An application of user groups growing in popularity in recent users includes special needs, skills and interests groups. These can be created as a means of collecting user skill/interest data and then acting on that data. While the user form can be used to collect data, there is no 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. In addition, in some plans and feature sets, you might even be able to change the user experience by automatically restricting or granting access to opportunities as well as changing the user form questions as immediate results of your volunteers selecting these options.  These groups utilize the Public Description of a user group to convey additional information related to joining that group (e.g. the Public Description for the court-ordered group may explain additional screening requirements).

Choosing a Membership Control Option

Every time you create a user group, you will need to select the most suitable option from the Membership Control section of the New User Group page or allow users to auto-enroll via a special landing page. Each of these options are described below, along with the recommended user group type for each.

  • 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.
  • Auto-enroll through landing page: This option does not appear when creating a group and can be selected only when creating/editing a landing page. This is the most common option used for volunteer groups, as it provides a tailored, more engaging and generally easier user experience for the group's members. (For more details on creating landing pages, please refer to Section 6 of the Getting Started Guide.)

For more information on how to create user groups and edit users’ membership to those groups in VolunteerHub, please refer to Section 4 of the Getting Started Guide.

Building a Functional User Group Structure

In order to gain the functionality around user groups listed at the beginning of this article, it is essential that you build a usable group hierarchy in the system, starting with the broadest categories first. As with event groups, reports can easily be filtered to show only registration data for a specific user group. For example, if you will have corporate groups, community groups and availability groups in your site, first create three parent groups (one for each broad category). Then, once the basic groups are in place, create the individual sub-groups below those parent groups.

Building a good structure rather than simply listing out all your groups together without utilizing parent groups and sub-groups will allow you to do much more in the system. For instance, having a broader “Corporate Groups” category with specific groups for Wells Fargo, Thrivent, etc. listed below it as sub-groups will allow you to:

  • Email volunteers of one company or send an email to all your corporate volunteers at once.
  • Reserve an event for a specific company or reserve it for all corporate volunteers.
  • Run a report for volunteers at a specific company or for all corporate volunteers.

Applying User Groups to Your Volunteer Program

There are many, many uses for user groups in VolunteerHub. Please click on a link below for instructions on how to gain further use out of your user groups.