Please Give us Your Feedback about Best Practices for Opportunity Restrictions and Signup
This post is a call to get your comments and feedback about a potential change in HandsOn Connect defaults regarding opportunity signup. It does require understanding a bit about how restrictions currently work with HandsOn Connect Opportunity Sign-up so read on!
Opportunity Restrictions: A History
What are Restrictions? - Restrictions are parameters you can set to determine who can and can't sign up for a Volunteer Opportunity via the HandsOn Connect public site. HandsOn Connect 3.0 allows you to set the following 'restrictions' that govern who can and can't "sign up" for volunteer opportunities.
- Minimum Age - anyone under that age cannot sign up.
- Minimum Age with an Adult - allows a team captain (who must be at least Minimum Age AND an adult (i.e. 18+), to sign up a volunteer who meets this age requirement. I.e. if Minimum Age = 18, and Minimum Age with adult = 14. An 18 year old team captain can sign up a 14 year old, but a 14 year old cannot sign up on their own. (in the partner portal - unless otherwise configured, the Minimum Age with an Adult is automatically set the same as Minimum Age to keep things simple for partners :-)
- Maximum Age - when a value is set here, anyone with an age greater than than the maximum age cannot sign up.
- Background Check Required - when enabled, does not allow a volunteer to sign up unless their contact record has the field "Background Check Completed" marked as true.
- Minimum required level of Verification - only available if you have Verified Volunteers installed. When set, a volunteer who does not have a the necessary Verification Level is unable to sign up.
- Orientation required - when enabled, does not allow a volunteer to sign up unless their contact record has the field "Orientation Completed" marked as true.
- Skilled Volunteeer Required - when enabled, does not allow a volunteer to sign up if they do not meet the required skills.
- Court Ordered Allowed - when false, will not let a contact whose contact record indicates they are a court-ordered volunteer sign-up.
When are Restrictrions Applied?
Since the inception of HandsOn Connect, restrictions are only applied to Opportunities that are Date & Time Specific - Signup.
For any opportunities where a volunteer only 'expresses interest' - restrictions are not, however applied, and have no effect. Anyone can 'express interest' in an opportunity - even if they do not meet the restrictions.
Really? What was the original thinking behind this?
The original 'express interest' schedule type was an evolution of the old 'referral' concept of voluneerism where opportunity coordinators just wanted to know who was interested in volunteering, and didn't want to restrict or manage their interest in any way.
The thinking was -- "Hey! Let's let everyone express interest" -- and then I'll look at their contact information, see their age, see if they meet our requirements, and will reject them if they don't meet our needs. This presumed that the screening for volunteers would take place as part of the confirmation / rejection process of each volunteer who expressed interest, instead of that screening happening via the automations available in the technology. This was 'old school' thinking.
Is it time for a change?
The use of 'express interest' opportunities has expanded significantly since HandsOn Connect was first created. We now offer three types of Volunteer Opportunity that allows a volunteer to 'express interest' rather than sign up:
- Date & Time Specific - Express Interest
- Individually Scheduled Opportunity - Express Interest with Schedule
- Individually Scheduled Opportunity - Express Interest Only
And many people now assume, that for each of these opportunity types - that HandsOn Connect is screening the volunteers based on the restrictions they've applied -- only its not :-)
In HandsOn Connect support we often are asked: "Hey! My partner created an Individually Scheduled Opportunity with a minimum age of 18, and yet 14 year olds are signing up. What gives?"
And we respond -- well, if you DO want to apply restrictions to an express interest opportunity, you need to explicitly change the workflow rule that says 'don't apply restrictions' to that opportunity type (or that specific opportunity). At the moment, in the interests of simplicity, we don't even present the Volunteer Opportunity field "Apply restrictions to Opportunity" in the partner portal - because its just sort of confusing. It is automatically populated via workflows - but those workflows haven't yet been updated to reflect our new Registration Types ("express interest with schedule' and 'express interest only') which is something we plan to do shortly. But whether those workflows should say to apply restrictions or not apply restrictions is the question we're asking you about today.
If the paragraph above confused you in any way - then you're not alone. I got confused even writing it! And its why we think we need to simplify the behavior and thinking about restrictions and volunteer opportunity types.
Should we change the default rules regarding restrictions?
We want HOC to be simple for you and your partners. And we think that applying restrictions to some types of opportunities but not to others is confusing.
Partners may not realize that restrictions aren't being applied when people express interest - and they may not realize that they should then manually screen each volunteer before confirming them, check their age, etc... We keep hearing they assumed that the restrictions were in effect for these opportunities.
And so we are considering the following change to when restrictions are applied:
By default, all opportunity types (whether full sign-up or express interest) WOULD apply any restrictions associated with the volunteer opportunity to signing up or expressing interest.
That said, consider the following:
- Changing the current behavior regarding restrictions to this new default would require a quick and easy administrative speed-up on your end. (More details will be given if/when we make this change)
- If you wish to keep the current business practice (not applying restrictions to Express Interest, and only applying to full sign up), no action would be needed on your part. You will not be forced to make this change if you prefer the current behavior.
- Administratively (but not in the partner portal), you are able to overide restrctions being applied if you wanted to do so for selected opportunities.
- If you change your default to restrictions ARE applied to all opportunities, there's no rule that says you have to set any restrictions on an opportunity at all (other than minimum age). So if you want everyone to sign up, you can just set the minimum age to 1 and set no other restrictions to opportunity sign up!
Please give us your opinion on this proposed change to how restrictions work in HandsOn Connect.
Please add a comment to this post and express your opinion on what you think is best for your organization and your partners. Comment with any of the following, and feel free to expand and comment further:
1) I like it the way it is! Restrictions should only be applied to Date & Time Specific / Full Sign Up opportunities. Express Interest opportunities should ignore restrictions and let anyone express interest.
2) I think restrictions (if used in an opportunity) should apply to ALL opportunity types, both sign up and express interest!
3) Yikes! I didn't even realize that restrictions weren't being applied to Express Interest Registration types. How soon can we change this?
Thanks for your feedback as we work to make HandsOn Connect simpler and more straightforward for you and your partners!