Skip to main content

Setting up CiviVolunteer

When it comes to CiviVolunteer, it is not exactly obvious how to use it. 

There is obviously "The Guide" but it doesn't really tell all the details on how to get around things, and unless you are a very experienced user who knows CiviCRM by heart with eyes, closed you might spend quite some time on figuring out where to click, what to enable and what not.

There are several questions to ask yourself before you start working with CiviVolunteer:

Will my event be a one time thing?

Do I want to create my event both for paying participants and volunteers at once? 

Do I want to manage volunteers myself or do I already have a structure created and I want them to pick their days and hours of work... 

These and many more are really just the basics that might prevent you from deleting your draft event and starting all over again.

In this blog post I'll be pointing out several miscellaneous observations I made during my work with CiviVolunteer. 

First of all, you'll need to know what data do you want to collect from the Volunteer. Name and phone number only? Email and address as well? Give them some space to describe their availability in case you'd like to reach out to them in the future? 

All these questions will help you define the profile you'll use for volunteer sign up and the fields you'll have to add to that profile. 

The actual CiviVolunteer is nowhere to be found in CiviCRM unless you start creating a CiviEvent. 

In here you'll have to go to the Volunteer tab and enable Volunteer sign up. 

The tricky part is that if you want to have Online registrations and Volunteer registration, this will not be possible (or at least I didn't find how it could be possible, because the event will focus on actual event participants and collecting payments and will not give the option for volunteer sign up). You'll have to create two separate events. One for participant registration and one for volunteers. Odd, I know. 

So once you have that figured out, you'll tick the "Volunteer sign up, you select your organization, and the profile to be used as we mentioned above. 

In the Volunteer tab you'll see 3 buttons: 

  • Define Volunteer Needs
  • Assign Volunteers 
  • Log Hours

All three seem quite straightforward, but it gets trickier in a bit. 

Normally you'd have at least some idea about your volunteer structure - how many do you want per day, are there volunteering shifts? Do you have already some people you know of that will volunteer and are in the database etc. 

In the Define the needs you'll define the roles (positions)  - (*note: this is again something typical for CiviCRM, if you have brand new volunteering roles to create you'll have to go to Administer > Administration Console > Volunteer Roles)

You can go ahead and quite simply set volunteer roles, the amount of people needed for the role, the time slots and duration of time slots. You continue until the "shift-plan" for the event is set. 

Before you hit "Done" there is one tickbox to consider "Allow users to sign up without specifying a shift". It is ticked by default and based on what you want - either assign volunteers to shifts by yourself, or have volunteers pick their shifts themselves you will leave this button ticked or unticked. 

I strongly recommend to set up the event alongside CiviVolunteer with a prepared schedule so you simply define your volunteer needs, by which you create the schedule, you leave the small button un-ticked and you let the volunteers select their date and time and role. In my opinion it saves a lot of admin and management work and saved an enormous amount of time. The volunteer simply proceeds to registration, fills out his or hers details clicks on a drop down with all positions and time slots available pick the one that suits his/her the most and the place gets automatically booked on the back-end within the event, the person gets assigned to the role...and all YOU have to do is sit back, enjoy the show and occasionally pull the report. I find this an absolute plus and one of the biggest advantages of the whole CiviVolunteer extension. 

One little hint before you set it all up and wait for the miracle - you have to enable the "CiviVolunteer: register to volunteer permission" in the Drupal permission scheme ;) 

Another thing that CiviVolunteer allows you to do is move your Volunteers around in the shift plan. So let's say you have the step above set up but someone is sick, you have last minute cancellations and you need to assign backups. 

You can easily access the "Assign Volunteers" window, remove whoever is out and search in your database of volunteers for the replacements and drag&drop assign  them to the free spot. 

 In the end you can pull a report from Reports > Create Reports from Templates > Volunteer Report.

Share this post