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

The video below discusses initiatives and offers ideas for how initiatives can be used on your site.

What is an Initiative? from Galaxy Digital on Vimeo.

How does a volunteer access an initiative?

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

  • By using the search filter - If an initiative is public, it will appear in the Search by filter for all volunteers viewing needs, and the initiative banner will be visible anytime a volunteer views a need that belongs to it. If the initiative is private, it will only show up in the Search by filter if the logged-in user belongs to a user group to which the initiative is assigned.
  • 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 publicizes the initiative.points to the initiative.

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


Can an initiative be private?

An initiative can be assigned to a specific user group, such that (1) only the volunteers in their group can see the initiative's banner on the needs associated with it, and (2) volunteers who are not in the user group cannot search or view it. The needs within an initiative, however, can be either public or private.

  • If an initiative contains public needs, those needs will be available to anyone who views the site. If the initiative has been shared only with certain user groups, only the members of those groups will be able to see the initiative banner and know that the public needs are part of an initiative.
  • If an initiative contains private needs, the only volunteers who can access it will be those who belong to the user group to which it's assigned.

For more information on private initiatives, keep reading; see also our article titled Private Initiatives and Private Needs.

How can a group access an initiative that has been assigned to it?

There are a couple of ways for someone to access an initiative that has been assigned to their user group:

  • Log in. If the site recognizes the volunteer as a member of the group, the volunteer can go to Needs and search for needs by initiative.
  • Send out a private initiative link. Once you've created/updated an initiative with a user group assigned, an initiative link appears at the top of the initiative page. Copy and paste that link, and send as needed.

In addition, all needs related to the assigned initiative will show up in the regular need view, as long as the viewer has been given access to the initiative.

How many needs can be assigned to an initiative?

An initiative can have unlimited needs assigned to it.

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?

You can assign any number of user groups to an initiative; there is no limit. You can also delete a user group from an initiative, as needed. This is done in the Initiatives area of Volunteerism > Needs.

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.

What are the available reports on initiatives?

Your Reports area contains the following initiative reports:

  • Initiative Summary - For all initiatives on your site, 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.
  • Initiatives by User Group - For a selected initiative, shows each user group's number of responses, the number of needs responded to, the number of agencies whose needs received responses, the number of users who responded, and the number of hours submitted (including pending, approved, and rejected).

In addition, the Volunteer Hours Logged report, along with various need and response exports, include initiative information as applicable.

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.

Can people access a public need if it's part of a private initiative?

Yes, they can. Because the need is public, it will be displayed with all other public needs, and it will be listed in searches as applicable. When a volunteer goes to view the need, however, the display will differ depending on whether the volunteer is a member of a user group that has been assigned to the initiative.

  • Someone who does not have access to the initiative will see the need and can respond to the need, but they will not see the initiative banner, and they will have no way of knowing that the need is part of an initiative.
  • Someone who does have access to the initiative will see the need, along with the initiative banner.

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

Initiatives are available for regular needs only, but they can be used for disaster response needs with a special Disaster Response initiative. They are not a feature for the Advanced Events Module (AEM) or the Service Learning Module (SLM), or the Disaster Response Module.

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.

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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