When creating a volunteer opportunity, one of the first decisions you'll need to make is what type of opportunity it should be. What does this mean?
Opportunity Types serve two important purposes. They allow you to:
- organize your opportunities into groups;
- define a number of important settings, like who can view and participate in an opportunity, whether participation requires users to submit an application that must be approved, and which emails are sent throughout the volunteer process. All of these settings and more are configured at the Opportunity Type level and inherited by their associated opportunities.
Ultimately, Opportunity Types determine the characteristics of each volunteer opportunity that is created of that Type. The configurations of both the Opportunity Type and the individual opportunity determine who gets recruited, who can see the opportunities, and which opportunities will be present on a volunteer's profile for easy sign-up.
NOTE: Higher Logic recommends having between 10 and 20 Opportunity Types that cover the full spectrum of possible volunteering opportunities at your organization.
Brainstorming Opportunity Types
Because Opportunity Types are so important, and must be defined before you can make individual volunteer opportunities, brainstorming Opportunity Types relevant to your organization is one of the first steps you should take if you're in the beginning stages of building your volunteer program or are in the middle of revamping an existing one.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Use your organization’s calendar as a guide to make a list of all upcoming events and start grouping those events by similar characteristics.
- Call for Volunteers! Post a message to your open forum asking members to list their favorite volunteering activities, which can then be turned into Opportunity Types.
When brainstorming your Opportunity Types, it's also helpful to group your volunteering opportunities into the following categories:
- Term - These activities have a defined length of time and usually an extensive application process. Some examples would include serving on the board of directors for an organization, serving as a chapter president or committee secretary, etc.
- Task - These activities involve a shorter time commitment than Term activities, with the focus typically being on a specific outcome. Volunteers are usually matched to tasks depending on their skill set AND the amount of time they want to dedicate to an Opportunity. Examples include writing relevant blog posts, translating industry articles into another language, etc.
- Micro - These activities are more dynamic and less structured than Task or Term. Though they might seem to have little significance, the value of Micro volunteering opportunities can add up to great organization gains in both time and in identifying future task and term volunteers. The time commitment is usually short, and can often be completed virtually, which makes them very appealing to members. Examples of micro volunteering include posting to the organization’s online community and commenting on blog posts.
|Leadership||Term||Board of Directors, National Chairs, etc.|
|Committees||Term||Communications Committee, Marketing Committee, etc.|
|Chapters||Term||Student, local, regional, etc.|
|Local Events||Task||Staff local events, organize a local chapter meeting, hand out badges, manage local activities, select a speaker.|
|Chapter Events||Term/Task||Hand out name badges, greet new attendees for chapters, manage leadership applications.|
|National Event/Annual Conference||Term/Task||
Includes all volunteer opportunities that revolve around a national event/ annual conference:
|Social Buzz||Micro/Task||Follow the association on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. Find and share appropriate content with the association using those platforms. Manage the organization's Instagram account for a week.|
|Content Creation||Task||Write a blog, post to the online community forum, translate an article, author content for white papers, articles, tool kits.|
|Content Review||Micro/Task||Comment on a blog, re-tweet a relevant article, review a blog, peer review journals.|
|Online Community Engagement/Content Curation||Micro||Seed questions, answer questions in the community for a week, recruit members.|
Become a mentor, visit a school, attend a student chapter meeting, judge content/awards.
Flash Mentor - Mentor young professionals during annual meeting only (career advice, etc.).
|Charity/Giving Back||Micro/Task||Industry corporate responsibility (e.g., Higher Logic Cares). Members select a day of service.|
|Non-Association Events||Task||Call for volunteers at a career fair, provide health fair representation from members of the organization.|
|Recruiting/Member Retention||Micro/Task/Term||Recruit new members, start a chapter, visit a college.|
|Annual Conference||Task||Newbie Ambassador, arrange golf outing, teach morning yoga.|
|Advocacy||Micro/Task||Call your congressman and letter writing campaigns, organize a demonstration.|
|Fund raising||Task||Foundation, scholarships.|
|Extracurricular Activities||Term||Participate on an association sports team or be an athletic coach.|
|Special Projects||TBD||Less formal than a ‘task force’ with a clear objective and tangible deliverables.|
|Internships||Term||Unpaid and with the goal of gaining experience in a specific industry segment.|
|University Chapter Advocacy||Task/Term||Members make the pitch to have a chapter at that particular university, and if a chapter becomes instituted, it can have its leadership recruited and volunteering tracked.|
|Research/Feedback||Micro/Task/Term||Create a members-run committee where they can then run focus groups, create surveys, and receive feedback.|
Create a Commitment Curve
In addition to brainstorming your Opportunity Types, it's also helpful to create a Volunteer Commitment Curve for your organization upon which you can chart your Types in a way that moves volunteers up toward more committed volunteer opportunities in your association.
Access Opportunity Types
To manage your Opportunity Types:
- Access the Admin interface.
- Navigate to Programs > Volunteer > Types.
Create an Opportunity Type
- On the Opportunity Types tab, click Create.
- Configure the Opportunity Type's settings.
|Name||Give your Opportunity Type a name that's broad enough to encompass more than one volunteer activity but specific enough to distinguish between other Types.|
Choose whether applicants will be auto-approved or require admin approval when applying for opportunities of this Type.
If you select Require Approval, potential volunteers are required to complete an application form that must be approved or rejected by an admin. In addition, you'll then need to choose whether:
NOTE: Application forms are created on the Admin > Programs > Volunteer > Application Forms page.
|Can opportunities of this Type be affiliated to communities?||Controls whether Community Admins can create opportunities of this Type for their community.|
|Who can view/volunteer for opportunities of this Type||These two settings are the primary security settings for your opportunities, and let you control who can view and volunteer for opportunities of this Type.
You can select Public (everyone), Authenticated (any logged-in user), Member (members only), or any of your default or custom Higher Logic Security Groups.
|Is this active?||
Controls whether this Opportunity Type is active or not. If inactive, it cannot be selected when creating an opportunity, effectively prohibiting the creation of new opportunities of this Type.
TIP: On this page, Active Types are shown by default, but you can select Inactive from the Filter By menu to view any Inactive Types.
|Is this the default?||Controls whether this is the default Type when creating an opportunity (the default Type is pre-selected in the Opportunity Type menu).|
|Ask for a Physical Address||
Will a potential volunteer’s location play a deciding factor as to whether or not he or she will be selected for an Opportunity of this Type?
EXAMPLE: If the Opportunity Type is Content Creation, and its opportunities will be completed virtually, then a physical address is likely not necessary. On the other hand, if the Type's opportunities will take place in a specific city (e.g., a local soup kitchen), you'd likely want to limit applicants to those who live in or around that city.
If enabled, people applying to opportunities of this Type are asked for their address.
|Include in Activity Sync||Controls whether volunteer data is sent back to your AMS/CRM via Activity Sync. See Activity Sync for more information.|
The selections made here determine the email templates sent to volunteers participating in opportunities of this Type as they reach each milestone along the volunteer process (or you can choose not to send one of these emails at all). Set the Allow overrides at the Opportunity Level setting to YES or NO to control whether these emails can be changed at the individual opportunity level.
Higher Logic's best practice is to not allow overrides at the opportunity level to keep your volunteer messaging consistent across opportunities of the same Type.
NOTE: Only Super Admins can create new templates or update these existing defaults. Refer to the Volunteer category on the Admin > Email > > Email Management > Email Templates page to view/update these milestone email templates or create new ones.
Message sent to volunteers nominated to apply for an opportunity.
Select Do not Send to hide the Nominate Volunteers block on the Opportunity Details page, and prevent users from nominating others for the affected opportunities.
|Invitation||Message sent to volunteers invited to apply for an opportunity.|
|Acknowledgment||Message sent to those who have signed up for an auto-approve opportunity, confirming their acceptance.|
|Accept||Message sent to those who have applied for an opportunity and have been approved.|
|Reject||Message sent to those who have been rejected for an Opportunity.|
|Thank You||Message sent thanking volunteers who have fulfilled their opportunity commitment.|
|Volunteer Cancel - To Admin||Message sent to an opportunity's Primary Contact when a volunteer withdraws from an opportunity.|
|Volunteer Cancel - To User||Message sent to the user confirming their withdrawal from an opportunity.|
|Signup Confirmation - To Admin||Message sent to an opportunity's Primary Contact when a user applies for an opportunity.|
Only the Qualifications selected here will be available when creating opportunities of this Type. At the opportunity level, these qualifications simply reflect the credentials desired in a volunteer. While outbound marketing and the opportunities presented to volunteers on their profile is determined by these qualifications, participation is not limited based on them.
NOTE: The available Qualifications are pulled from the Admin > Users > Demographics page. See Profile Demographics to learn more.
- Click Save to create the Opportunity Type and make it available when creating opportunities.