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FAQ: Public and Private Initiatives and Needs

Note: This article applies to features introduced with Connect version 2.8 (initiatives, user groups, etc.). They apply for regular needs only; they do not apply to needs within the Advanced Events Module (AEM), Service Learning Module (SLM) (Campus Connect), or Disaster Response Module (DRM). For information on offering private needs via the AEM, click here.

Below are the most frequently asked questions we've received regarding need privacy and initiative privacy. This article will be updated as additional questions come in from our beta release group.




The Agency Manager Experience

The Volunteer Experience

What does it mean for an initiative to be public or private?

If an initiative is public:

  • It can be searched on the Needs page using the Search By/Select A Filter dropdown.
  • When viewing the initiative page or the page of any need within the initiative, a volunteer will see the initiative's banner, which include the title and description.

If an initiative is private (shown only to one or more selected user groups), only the user-group members can search for the initiative, see the initiative page, or view the banner on initiative needs. A user-group member can access initiative information in the following ways:

  • Via the search feature mentioned above
  • Via a link provided to them
  • By clicking on a need within an initiative

What does it mean for a need to be public or private?

All volunteers visiting your site can see and respond to public needs. If a need is private, a volunteer can view it only if:

  • They have a link to the need-information page, or
  • The private needs belongs to a private initiative, and the volunteer belongs to a user group assigned to that initiative.

Someone with access to a private need will see a "lock" icon to the right of the need title, indicating that it's not available to everyone.


How do I make something public or private?

To make an initiative private, you must assign it to one or more user groups. Only the members of the user group(s) will be able to search and view the initiative. Click here for instructions on making an initiative private.

To make a need private, you must click the Private option on the need-posting form. Click here to learn how to make a need private.

How do I share an initiative?

You can share any initiative by making the initiative link available to your volunteers. The initiative link is located in the top right-hand corner of the Create/Edit Initiative page. (To access this page, go to Volunteerism > Needs, click Initiatives, and then click on an initiative. For a new initiative, the link does not appear until the initiative has been created.)

  • You can share public initiative link however you wish—by sending it to your volunteers in an email blast, by posting it on social media, but putting it in a newsletter, etc. Keep in mind that a spotlight is a great way to publicize an initiative on your site, as well as to make the initiative easy to access.
  • You can also share a private initiative link however you wish, but keep in mind that only the assigned user-group members will be able to view it. Sharing a private initiative as a spotlight is not recommended.

Does a need have to be associated with an initiative in order to be private?

No. Any need can be private, regardless or whether or not it is associated with an initiative. Click here to learn how to make a need private.

If a need is added to a private initiative, does that make the need private by default?

No. If a need is public, it will be publicly available on the site, regardless of its initiative's public/private status. If you want the need to be available only to a user group, you must:

  • Assign the initiative to the user group
  • Make the need within the initiative private

The privacy of the initiative applies only to the grouping of the needs, not the needs themselves. If a need is not individually marked as private, it will be available to anyone who visits the site.

What kind of event might use both a public initiative and public needs?

An organization would typically use public initiatives with public needs for volunteer events such as Stuff the Bus and MLK Day that are open to everyone.

What kind of event might use both a private initiative and private needs?

An organization might pair private needs with private initiatives if it is running a particular campaign in partnership with a private volunteer group or corporation. Only members of that group need to know about the initiative, and only those members can respond to the associated needs. You might also use this combination as part of a Day of Caring, if you want to make a certain set of needs available to a private group or corporation within your community. In this case, you would create the whole initiative for the private group (for example, "Day of Caring: Buncombe County Regional Hospital.").

What kind of event might use a public initiative with private needs?

While you may never have occasion to offer a public initiative where all of the needs are private, it's very likely that you'll have a public initiative that includes private needs. This could be a CDL (Commercial Driver's License) need that you post as a part of a Stuff the Bus initiative, or a Day of Caring need that you privately assign to a company. This setup (public initiative that includes private needs) is similar to what site managers are currently able to do when offering private needs to corporations in advanced events.

What kind of event might use a private initiative with public needs?

As a site manager, you might want to send a group of hand-picked public needs to a particular group. For example, if a troop of older Girl Scouts is looking for outdoor volunteer opportunities, you can create a private initiative titled "Outdoor Opportunities for Troop 2931," assign a handful of outdoor needs to it, and send them the link to the initiative. Because the need is public, other people can respond to it, but the Girl Scout Troop can also see what's available and respond as well.

Note: If you don't want to use an initiative for something like this, you can always tag the needs, create a link for the tag, and send that to the group. Click here to learn more about tags.

Note: In a public need/private initiative situation, a volunteer can see the need but can't see that it's associated with the private initiative. What's "private" here is the association of the initiative with the need. For more information on this setup, click here.

If I have a public initiative that only contains private needs, how will that look in the volunteer view?

If a public initiative only contains private needs, the average volunteer will not be able to see or search for the initiative on your site. It will only be available to volunteers who have the private-need link. A public initiative only appears publicly if it's associated with public needs.

Let's say I am a member of a user group that is assigned to an initiative, and that initiative includes private needs. If I sign up for a private need as a team and then send the "join link" to friends who are not in my user group, will they still be able to see and respond to the need?

Yes. If you make a private-need link available to someone, they will be able to see and respond to that need, regardless of what initiative is belongs to, whether that initiative is private, and whether or not they have access to the initiative.

When posting a need, can an agency manager opt to make it private?

No. Only a site manager can make a need private. If an agency manager wants a need to be private, they should reach out to the site manager with that request.

Can an agency manager select an initiative for a need? What if the initiative is private?

An agency manager cannot select initiatives by default, but you can change your site settings to allow it. If agency managers do have that option, they will be able to choose any initiative, regardless of whether it is public or private. If your site is a "hub" feeding data to another site and your agencies can select initiatives, they will also be able to select from the other site's initiatives.

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