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Initiatives: A Guide for Site Managers

You can use initiatives to group needs that fall under a certain umbrella. Initiatives are a useful need-grouping tool in various situations, including:

  • When needs are associated with a specific event, such as Stuff the Bus and Day of Caring
  • When needs are associated with a particular time of year, such as summer or the holidays
  • When needs are associated with a particular group of volunteers, such as a youth volunteers, or employees of a company

Video: What is an Initiative?

Learn more: Click here to sign up for one of our regularly scheduled training sessions on initiatives.

About Initiatives

Now that you know what an initiative is, here are some parameters to be aware of before working with initiatives:

  • Accessibility: An initiative can be public, or it can be assigned to a specific group of users (a user group). An initiative assigned to specific user groups cannot be accessed via the public search filter.
  • Assigning Needs: An initiative can have unlimited needs assigned to it, but each need can only have one initiative. A need does not have to be associated with an initiative; initiatives are optional.
  • Dates and Date Ranges: Initiatives are not associated with particular dates, and they do not have an assigned start or end date. The needs within an initiative, however, can be associated with dates. Once all an initiative's needs expire, the initiative can no longer be viewed by volunteers.
  • Reports: All reporting data on needs includes information about associated initiatives.

This article goes over the above parameters and more. Topics covered are listed below:

Click on a topic above to read more about it.

Accessing the Initiatives Management Area

Create and manage initiatives from the initiatives management area. To access it:

  1. From your site manager panel, go to Volunteerism > Needs.
  2. Click Initiatives.
    menu_initiatives.png

From this page, you can view initiative information, add new initiatives, and edit (including deactivating) existing initiatives. The table of initiatives shows the following data all initiatives on your site:

  • Initiative title, ID, and status (active or inactive)
  • Domain (useful for sites using a Galaxy Link)
  • Number of user groups assigned
  • Number of needs assigned
  • Date the initiative was created
  • Date the initiative was updated

To hide or add columns, use the Table Filter. To view more information about an initiative, click on the initiative title. To view the initiative's needs as they appear in the volunteer view

You can also view any needs that have been assigned to the initiative. To do so, scroll to the bottom of the page, where you'll find the Initiative Needs table.

table_initiative_needs.png

Click on a need to edit it; click on an agency name to view the agency's profile.

Adding or Editing an Initiative

Click here to see a video on adding and editing initiatives.

To add or edit an initiative:

  1. From your site manager panel, go to Volunteerism > Needs and click Initiatives to open the initiatives management area. You will see a table of all existing initiatives.
  2. Click Add New Initiative to create an initiative.
    button_add_new_initiative.png
    To edit an existing initiative, click on the initiative title in the table of initiatives.
    initiative_select.png
  3. Edit or complete all applicable fields, shown below.
    Field Description
    Privacy Select to show an initiative publicly on your site (so that all volunteers can see it), or to show it only to one or more specific user groups.
    Status  Select Active to activate the initiative.
    Title Type a title for the initiative. This title will show up in the initiative banner, as well as in the initiative search.
    Color Specify a color for the initiative banner. 
    Text Color Specify a text color for the initiative banner.
    Icon Select an icon to be shown on the initiative banner.
    Description Type the initiative description to be shown on the initiative banner.
    Messages Click here to learn more about the initiative messages that can be dropped into the thank you, reminder, and response notifications.
  4. Click Create Initiative (or Update Initiative, as applicable).

The initiative is now displayed in the table of initiatives.

Adding Custom Questions To an Initiative

You can add custom questions for each initiative on your site. Custom questions appear on the need response form for both individuals and teams, along with any custom response questions you've added. There is no limited to how many custom questions you can add per initiative.

To add a custom question to an initiative:

  1. From your site manager panel, go to Volunteerism > Needs and click Initiatives to open the initiatives management area. You will see a table of all existing initiatives.
  2. Click to add or edit an initiative.
  3. Scroll down to the Initiatives questions portion of the page.
    initiative_questions.png
  4. Click Add Question to open the Add Custom Question form.
  5. Complete the fields on the form.
    Field Description
    Status  Select Active so that the question, when saved, will be visible on your site.
    Type Select the question type, and enter Options as needed. See ______ for more information on question types. 
    Question Type the text of the question as you want it to appear to volunteers. 
    Required  Toggle to ON to make the question required. If a question is required, the volunteer will not be able to complete their need response until they have answered it.
  6. Click Save Custom Question.

Volunteers' answers to custom questions can be seen in the following places:

  • Response exports from the site manager panel (Volunteerism > Responses)
  • Response exports from the agency management area (under Needs)

Answers to initiative questions are included as a column in each of these exports.

Customizing Notifications for an Initiative

The following five notifications can be partially customized for specific initiatives:

  • Need Response Thank You - Sent when someone responds to a need as an individual, as a team leader, or as a team member
  • Users: Welcome to the Team - Sent to team members who (1) already have a Connect platform account, and (2) have been signed up for a need by someone else (a team creator or team leader).
  • Volunteer Team Created - Sent to team members who (1) do not already have a Connect platform account, and (2) have been signed up for a need by someone else (a team creator or team leader).
  • Upcoming Need Reminder - Sent one week and one day prior to a date-specific need; goes to all volunteers who responded to the need.
  • Notify Users Week After Need Happens On - Sent one week after the date-specific need occurs; goes to all volunteers who responded to the need.

With initiatives, you can add tags to these notifications that pull information about each specific initiative. For example, if you're running a Day of Caring and a VITA effort concurrently and people are responding to needs for both, the Day of Caring volunteers will have special Day of Caring information in their notifications, while the VITA volunteers will see special VITA information in theirs.

Note: You can also edit the default text of a notification as explained here. However, your edits will be applied to all instances of a notification, regardless what need or initiative it is associated with. The feature described here allows you to pull initiative-specific text into the template.

There are two steps involved in customizing a notification for an initiative: (1) Creating and submitting the initiative-specific text, and (2) adding the initiative-specific tag to the applicable notification.

Note: These steps do not have to be taken in the order shown.

Step 1: Create and Submit Initiative-Specific Text

To write and submit the text that is to go into a notification:

  1. From your site manager panel, go to Volunteerism > Needs and click Initiatives to open the initiatives management area. You will see a table of all existing initiatives.
  2. Click to create or edit an initiative. This action opens the form for creating or editing an initiative.
  3. Scroll down to the three Text Editor boxes beneath the Description field.
  4. In each box, type the message that you want to have included in the applicable notification message.
    notification_sample_message.png
  5. Click Update Initiative (or Create Initiative, as applicable).

Step 2: Add the Tag To the Notification

Now that you've submitted the text to be included in each notification, you need to add the applicable tag to ensure that it's included.

  1. Access the template, either by going to Communication > Notifications, or by clicking the applicable link on the page for adding or editing an initiative.
    link_view_reminder_template.png
  2. In the Message field, place the cursor where you would like the custom initiative message to appear. In the example below, the admin wants it to appear just below the greeting.
    template_example..png
  3. In the list of template keys, located to the right of the Message field, click the {{initiative_message}} key.
    template_key.png
    The template key now appears in the message.
    template_example_with_message.png
  4. Click Submit to save the updated template.

Note: Custom initiative messages are not required. If you have other initiatives that do not contain custom messages, the {{initiative_message}} key will be skipped in the notifications.

Note: You cannot type template keys (the words in double brackets) into a custom message.

Assigning an Initiative to a Need

The tasks of assigning initiatives to needs falls to the site manager unless your site settings allow agency managers to select initiatives for their posted need.

To assign an initiative to a need:

  1. Go to Volunteerism > Needs and create a new need or select one to edit.
  2. On the form for posting or editing a need, select an initiative from the Initiative dropdown.
  3. Once you've entered or updated any other need information, click Update Need (or Create Need, as applicable).

If the agency manager has the option to select an initiative, they will have the same Initiative dropdown on their need-posting form.

Sharing a Public Initiative

Once you have created a need, an initiative link appears in the top right-hand corner of the Create/Update Need page.

field_initiative_LInk.png

Once you've copied that link to your clipboard, you can share the public initiative however you like. Here are a few ideas:

  • By putting it into a spotlight
  • By sending it out in an email blast
  • By posting it to social media
  • By including it in a newsletter

Note: If you've shared an initiative with one or more user groups, we do not recommend putting it in a spotlight. If a volunteer does not belong to one of the assigned user groups, they will not be able to see the private initiative.

Sharing an Initiative with User Groups

As described previously, you can share an initiative privately with specific groups of users known as user groups. If you share an initiative with a user group:

  • The initiative will not show up in public user searches.
  • The initiative will only be viewable to volunteers who are logged in and who belong one of the user groups assigned to it.
  • Needs within the initiative will include a "lock" icon.

Note: Click here to learn more about how to add volunteers to user groups.

To review, you can share an initiative with a user group using these steps:

  1. From your site manager panel, go to Volunteerism > Needs and click Initiatives to open the initiatives management area. You will see a table of all existing initiatives.
  2. Click to add or edit an initiative.
  3. For Privacy, select Show Only to User Groups.
  4. From the User Groups dropdown, select a user group. You can select multiple user groups.
    dropdown_user_group.png
    Once you've selected user groups, they'll appear below the User Groups field.
  5. Click Update Initiative (or Create Initiative, as applicable).

Private Initiative Link

Volunteers within the user group will now be able to access the initiative when viewing the site, or you can send them the initiative's unique link, available in the top right-hand corner of the Update Initiative (or Create Initiative) page.

field_initiative_link.png

Shared Initiatives: Volunteer Perspective

If a volunteer belongs to a user group that has been assigned an initiative, they'll be able to find the initiative in a search. In the image below, the viewer belongs to a user group that has been given access to the Earth Day initiative:

dropdown_earth_day_initiative.png

When viewing needs for that initiative, the viewer can see the unique initiative banner, as shown in this example:

banner_initiatives.png

The initiative banner is also visible above the need description for any need that has been assigned to it:

banner_initiatives_need.png

Note: If an initiative is available only to certain user groups but its needs have not been marked private, anyone will be able to see and respond to the needs. The initiative banner will not be visible, however, unless the viewer belongs to a user group that has been given access to it.

Cloning an Initiative

When an initiative is cloned:

  • All user groups assigned to the original initiative will be assigned to the new one.
  • The banner settings, description, template messages, and initiative questions are cloned.
  • The title is cloned, with the word "copy" at the end in parentheses.
  • The associated needs are not cloned.

Note: The cloned initiative will have "(copy)" in their title. You'll need to edit titles accordingly.

To clone an initiative:

  1. From your site manager panel, go to Volunteerism > Needs and click Initiatives to open the initiatives management area. You will see a table of all existing initiatives.
  2. Click on the title of the initiative you wish to clone.
  3. Click the Clone Initiative button, which will be located near the bottom of the page, on the right-hand side.
    button_clone_initiative.png 
  4. Click Yes to confirm that you want to clone the initiative. A Create Initiative page opens, with all of the fields completed. The title of the cloned initiative will include "(copy)".
    field_copy.png
  5. Make changes to the fields as applicable. For example, remove "(copy)" from the title and update the title as needed.
  6. Click Create Initiative to save your changes.

Note: The new, cloned initiative is not created in the database until you have clicked Create Initiative.

Tip: To change the titles of the needs, you can scroll to the Initiative Needs table at the bottom of the initiative page and click on a need to edit it.

Deactivating an Initiative

You can deactivate an initiative at any time. When you deactivate an initiative, several things happen:

  • The initiative banner no longer appears in the volunteer view.
  • The initiative no longer appears in volunteer searches
  • User groups assigned to the initiative will no longer have easy access to any private needs that are part of that initiative.

A deactivated initiative will still show up in reports that include responses and hours that were submitted for needs that were, at the time, associated with the initiative.

Note: It is not necessary to deactivate an initiative whose needs have expired. The initiative is no longer shown in the volunteer view once its needs are in the past.

To deactivate an initiative:

  1. From your site manager panel, go to Volunteerism > Needs and click Initiatives to open the initiatives management area. You will see a table of all existing initiatives.
  2. Click on the title of the initiative to deactivate.
  3. Once the initiative page opens, scroll to the bottom and click Delete Initiative.
  4. Click Yes to confirm. 

You can reactivate an initiative at any time by opening it from the table of initiatives and changing the status from Inactive to Active and clicking Update Initiative.

Initiative Reports

 The following reports have been added to the Reports area of your site manager panel:

In addition, initiative information is also included in exports where they apply. (In other words, if a need is listed in an export, the initiative will likely be included.)

Initiative Summary Report

The Initiative Summary displays basic data for your site's initiatives and can be used to compare initiatives at a glance. You can limit the data to the responses added and the hours that took place during a date range you specify. The report shows:

  • Initiative ID, title, and status (active or inactive)
  • The date the initiative was added
  • The number of active needs (including expired)
  • The number of active current needs (non-expired)
  • The total responses to need within the initiative
  • The total number of users who responded to needs within the initiative (This number will differ from total reponses if a single person had more than one response.)
  • The total of hours that were submitted, with hours separated into statuses (Entered, Pending, Approved, Denied)

    Note: Click here to learn more about hours statuses.

You can select a date range of the report (default is the past month). Click Go to view the results, and click the Export icon to export the report to a spreadsheet.

User Groups by Initiative Report

The User Groups by Initiatives report shows data for user group participation in initiatives. Once you've opened the report, you can select an initiative to see data related to the user groups that responded to that initiative’s needs. The report shows:

  • ID and name of the user group
  • The number of needs the user group has responded to
  • The number of volunteers within the user group who have responded to needs
  • The number of agencies associated with the needs that have been resopnded to
  • The number of responses (this will differ from the number of responders if a single volunteer within the user group responded to more than one need)
  • Total number of associated volunteer hours, with hours separated into statuses (Entered, Pending, Approved, Denied)

    Note: Click here to learn more about hours statuses.

Video: How to Create an Initiative

In addition to this video, our Vimeo page has more videos on using your Connect site.

How to Create an Initiative from Galaxy Digital on Vimeo.

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