Help Center

FAQ: Initiatives

Click on a question below to see the answer.

What is an initiative?

An initiative is a tool for grouping needs that fall under a certain "umbrella." Initiatives are useful for the following types of needs:

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

All initiatives are publicly available on your site by default, but needs within an initiative can be either private or public.

How does a volunteer access an initiative?

There are several ways that a volunteer can access an initiative:

  • By using the search filter - This filter, available on the needs listing, includes an Initiative option if there are initiatives on the site.
  • By clicking a link in an email or social media - You can make a link to the initiative available to your volunteers by posting it on social media, including it in an email, etc.
  • By clicking on a spotlight - You can also make that link available via a spotlight that points to the initiative.
  • By clicking on a need that is already part of an initiative - If a need is part of an initiative, the initiative banner will appear on the need-information page.

To get the initiative link, go to Volunteerism > Needs, click Initiatives, and then select the initiative. You'll find the Initiative Link in the top right-hand corner of the page.


Can an initiative be private?

An initiative cannot be marked private, but it can contain private needs.

  • If an initiative contains public needs, those needs will be available to anyone who views the site. If the initiative contains needs that are privately available to a user group, then only the members of that groups will be able to see the needs.
  • If an initiative contains private needs, it will be accessible to anyone who has a link to one or more of the private needs. If those private needs are assigned to a user group, the members of the user group will be able to see the needs without using the private need link.

If a volunteer views an initiative page, they will see the initiative banner. If the needs are private and the volunteer does not have access to them, they'll see a note below the banner that no needs are available.

Note: See this FAQ on initiatives, private needs, and user groups to learn more about privacy within initiatives.

How many needs can be assigned to an initiative?

An initiative can have unlimited needs assigned to it.

How do I assign a need to an initiative?

You can assign needs individually or in bulk to an initiative. Click here to learn the steps for both approaches.

Note: The bulk-add feature is available only to site managers and is not a feature for agency managers.

How many initiatives can be assigned to a need?

While an initiative can have unlimited needs, each need must have no more than one initiative. You cannot assign multiple initiatives to a single need.

How many user groups can be assigned to an initiative?

User groups cannot be assigned to initiatives. (This is a change from the original initiatives feature.) You can assign any number of user groups to a need, regardless of whether that need is part of an initiative. You can also delete a user group from any need, as needed.

Am I required to select an initiative for every need I post?

No. Initiatives are typically used to group needs into a specific community effort (such as a Day of Caring). If a need is not part of a larger project or event, you may not need to use initiatives at all.

How do I set a date range for an initiative?

You cannot set a date or date range for an initiative. Only needs have dates (or date ranges). As long as the needs within an initiative are active and not expired, the initiative will be available to volunteers, either publicly or to the assigned user groups. Once all needs have expired, the initiative will no longer be visible to users, and cannot be accessed via the initiative search.

Can I email people who are involved in a certain initiative?

To email volunteers who have signed up for needs within an initiative, you can use the following filter in the email blast's user filter:

Volunteer > Initiative > has participated in > [initiative]

Here is an example: (Click image for a larger view.)

email_filter.pngTo email the managers of agencies whose volunteer opportunities are part of an initiative, you can use the following filter in the email blast's user filter:

Agency > Initiative > has used initiative > [initiative]

Here is an example: (Click image for a larger view.)


Click here for more information on the email blast.

What are the available reports on initiatives?

Your Reports area contains the following two reports:

  • The Initiative Summary Report - For all initiatives on your site, this report shows number of active needs, active responses, hours added (including pending, accepted, and rejected), and number of volunteers who have responded for a specified date range.
  • With the Need Responses by Initiative report, you can select an active initiative to view all responses to the needs within that initiative. This report only displays active responses to needs that were associated with the initiative when the responses were made. Export this report to view additional information, including user groups and team leader information.

Click here to learn more about these reports.

Which automated notifications be customized for initiatives?

The following automated notifications can be customized, to some degree, for individual 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.

Click here to learn how to customize notifications for an initiative.

Where do an initiative's custom questions show up?

For the volunteer who is responding to a need, custom questions for an initiative are part of the need-response form. They appear for all needs assigned to an initiative. If you have added other custom response questions to your site, initiative questions will be shown in addition to those.

Answers to custom questions are visible to both site managers and agency managers:

  • Site Managers: From the site manager panel, go to Volunteerism > Responses and export responses. Answers to initiative questions are included in the export.
  • Agency Managers: In the agency management area, under Needs, select one or more needs, and then click the Export Responses button. (Alternatively, click Responses under a need, and then click Export Responses for that need.) Answers to initiative questions are included in the export.

Are initiatives available for advanced events, service learning, or disaster response?

Initiatives are not available for needs within the Advanced Events Module (AEM). Clients who have the Service Learning Module (SLM) can use initiatives for SLM needs (but Legacy SLM), and clients with the Disaster Response Module (DRM) have access to a special disaster initiative type.

How can initiatives be used for disaster response, if they aren't part of the DRM?

As an alternative to using the DRM, you can assign a special Disaster Response type to an initiative. Once active needs have been added to the initiative, the red banner will appear on your site, making it easy for volunteers with disaster profiles to find and respond to disaster-response needs. This feature is only available to Connect clients who have purchased the DRM. For more information, see the article The Disaster Response Initiative.

If you don't have DRM, you can still use initiatives for disaster response. See this blog article for guidance.

Where can I find more information and training on initiatives?

Click here to access more articles on initiatives. You can also sign up for one of our live training sessions by clicking this link.

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