Spring 2016 Release Notes

Spring is here! And the HandsOn Connect bunny has a lot of treats for you in our Spring Release Basket!  We have a number of new features that have been high on the New Feature Request Forum, bringing some new and exciting functionality to HandsOn Connect.  Some features provide greater ease of use, some offer advanced functionality for those who choose to deploy it.

We're also offering public betas of our most exciting new features:

Individually Scheduled Opportunities (ISO) - This is the much improved scheduling type for managing ongoing volunteers.  It is intended to replace and improve upon our legacy "To Be Scheduled" volunteer opportunity schedule type.  TBS opportunities will remain available - but we expect that after you've seen the improvements with ISOs that you and your partners will see this as a better and easier way of scheduling volunteers on a flexible schedule.   (More on this will appears later in this article)

HandsOn Connect AddOn Store

The Spring release will be rolled out to customers between April 4 - April 15.  (It's a long release window as it's a very large release, so the roll-out will take longer to reach all instances)   Look for the Spring Release logo in the upper left hand corner of your instance and you'll know you have been upgraded to the Spring 2016 version!

And don't forget to join our preview webinar on Tuesday, April 5 at 1 pm eastern, to see a demo of all the new features and functionality.  

Here are the details of our Spring Release.

1. Civic Transcript (Volunteer History) now available on public site.  (HOC-168)

Volunteers will now be able to easily export their complete volunteer history as a .pdf that can be either printed or downloaded and emailed as proof of their volunteer service.

A link to "Print Volunteer History" will appear just below the volunteer history grid on the My Accounts Page.

Clicking on the link will open a .pdf which will summarize a volunteer's history.  This .pdf can be printed or exported and saved from your browser using your browsers standard print and save as .pdf options.

Civic Transcript (Volunteer History) now available on public site.  (HOC-168)

1.1. The .pdf opens in a new tab

The report features your logo, the Volunteer's name, and a summary of their overall hours, verified and unverified.  

The first part of the report is all the "Organization Reported" opportunities (from you and/or your partners), summarized by year, and with subtotals of hours for each year.  (Everything in the "Volunteer History" grid above.

The second part of the report includes all "Self Reported" hours, from the grid below the link.  (most of these will be unverified, but they will be labeled as such and also subtotaled by year).

The .pdf opens in a new tab

2. One Step Volunteer Attendance Reporting  (HOC283)

HandsOn Connect just got easier to use!  To speed up the ease of reporting attendance, we're introducing a new home page component with a link called "One Step Volunteer Attendance Reporting".   You can still report attendance one occurrence at a time via the occurrence's connection grid - but now staff and partners will be able to see all confirmed connections in 'please verify' status that are in the past and now ready to have attendance verified.  You'll be able to verify attendance for all your occurrences across multiple volunteer opportunities, all from one page!  

By default, we have installed a new home page component "Report Volunteer Attendance".  It has been added to the home page layouts for System Admin, Staff, Partner Staff and Volunteer Leaders.

Click on the link "One Step Volunteer Attendance Reporting" to launch the new one-step attendance reporting page.

One Step Volunteer Attendance Reporting  (HOC283)

2.1. The One Step Reporting Page

By default, all past connections in confirmed / please verify status will appear.  (As an affiliate admin, you'll see ALL of these which will probably be quite a lot!), as a partner you'll only see those where the Volunteer Opportunity is managed by your organization.


1.  Use search filters to narrow the connections shown. You  can search for all the connections for a contact, or all the connections for a Volunteer Opportunity.  (Note: the * character isn't used for search here.  If you put in Valerie for a contact name, you'll get anyone with the name Valerie.  If you type in 12th for Volunteer Opportunity Name - you'll get any opportunity with the word 12th in it. )

2.  Select one or more check-boxes to select connections and then 3) click on Mark as attended or Mark as Not Attended.   The connections will be updated and removed from the list of volunteer attendance awaiting verification.   (If no search results show up - then ALL your connections are verified!)

4.  Click the top box to select all the connections currently visible on the page.


The One Step Reporting Page


5. You can choose to display 10, 25, 50 or 100 connections at a time.  (Bottom of page).  No more than 100 connections can be updated at one time.

One of the temporary improvements to the partner portal for many customers was to add a Home Page Component (or a link) to a report that showed all "Attendance Verifications Due..."        

Now that One Step Volunteer Attendance Reporting is available -- the link to this report is no longer necessary.  If you had a home page component called "Report Attendance" we've turned it off and added the new "Report Volunteer Attendance" component.

We recommend Double-checking your partner portal though and making sure you no longer have a component or link that goes to the old "Attendance Verifications Due YTD" report.   If you find it, remove it.  (It won't hurt anything if its still there - but may be confusing to your partners why there are two links related to reporting attendance).

System Admin Action (Optional):   Remove any older home page components or links in partner portal for attendance reporting

If you are seeing the old "Report Attendance" component in the partner portal:

Go to setup / Customize / Home / Home Page Layouts

Choose Partner Staff Home Page Layout.  Click Edit.

Uncheck the box for "Report Attendance" (or whatever your version of this component is called, click 'next' and then Save.

If you are seeing the old "Report Attendance" component in the partner portal:

Some folks have this link in a component with multiple shortcut links.  If that's the case, go to Setup / Customize / Home / Home Page Components and select the component the link is contained in.

Click Edit.

Remove "Attendance Verifications Due" or "Report Attendance"  from the 'custom links to show" and then click Save.

When you're done. The only link related to reporting attendance should be the new "Report Volunteer Attendance" component and its "One Step Volunteer Attendance Reporting" link.  This is going to greatly speed up and improve reporting attendance!

If your link to 'report attendance" is in a component with more than one link....

2.5. We recommend you contact your Partners and/or Volunteer Leaders and let them know about this new feature!

Let your partners and VLs know that this new feature is available for them to use.   To help you with communicating this, we've updated training documentation in the Help Sections, so you can send them to this link for instructions on how to use the new feature  (though its quite self explanatory :-)

Partners:   http://partners.handsonconnect.org/m/11500/l/515596-one-step-volunteer-attendance-reporting

Volunteer Leaders:   http://leaders.handsonconnect.org/m/leaders_premium/l/515596-one-step-volunteer-attendance-reporting

3. Public Beta:  New "Individually Scheduled" volunteer opportunity type (HOC258, 278, 281, 289, 290, 300)

A new, powerful type of Volunteer Opportunity Schedule is now available as a beta.  This new opportunity type makes it easier for volunteers to be scheduled for ongoing opportunities where each volunteer is scheduled to appear at a different date and time, and where they may continue to volunteer for that opportunity over an extended period of time.

This is intended as an improvement, and eventually a replacement, for the original "To Be Scheduled" volunteer opportunity schedule.

Individually Scheduled volunteer opportunities offer:

  • More specific information about when volunteers are needed for an ongoing opportunity.
  • A way for volunteers to express interest in specific days and times they'd like to volunteer via the public site.
  • Faster confirmation and scheduling of ongoing volunteers for Opportunity Coordinators
  • A quick view of volunteers who are confirmed and scheduled to attend
  • Easier attendance reporting

We will be adding training to the partner portal help, and creating some quick-start videos for partners so that they can quickly adapt to the new volunteer opportunity type.  

During the months of April and May we are looking for affiliates who wish to be beta testers and who will make this new opportunity type available to themselves and their partners.  Look for an announcement in the next couple of weeks for how to request to be part of the beta for this much improved volunteer opportunity type.


  1. The legacy "To Be Scheduled" volunteer opportunity type will continue to be available so that existing ongoing opportunities do not have to be recreated.
  2. If and when you want to only allow for "Individually Scheduled" opportunities and no longer allow the creation of new "To Be Scheduled" opportunities, we can update the volunteer opportunity wizard to remove the legacy "To Be Scheduled" opportunity type as an option.  (Date and Time Specific will remain an option in all versions of the wizard).
  3. The new opportunity type will become available to all by June, after the beta testing period.
  4. Individually scheduled opportunities are not intended for team signups and do not permit custom questions (since these opportunities create multiple connections you wouldn't want to ask the same question again and again and again).  These features may be added in the future if there is sufficient need.

Click here to see how the new Individually Scheduled Volunteer Opportunities work:

A version of the above documentation will be created and made available to partners later this month.

Note: Individually Scheduled Opportunities, once you participate in the beta or next month when it is widely released to all, are for internal users and premium partner portal users.  ISOs are not available yet for basic portal users.  It will become available in the basic partner portal later this year along with a redesign of the basic partner portal.

Public Beta:  New "Individually Scheduled" volunteer opportunity type (HOC258, 278, 281, 289, 290, 300)

4. Improved Connections Grid in the Occurrence Record

We've made significant improvements to the connections grid on the occurrence record page.  It will make managing the new "Individually Scheduled" opportunities faster and more powerful, and will also improve management of "To Be Scheduled" connections.  

In the old grid, it was difficult to manage To Be Scheduled connections because the 'confirmed' tab had a confusing mix of verified volunteers, upcoming volunteers, and past volunteers where attendance was due.  The new grid breaks each of these types of confirmed volunteers out in a separate tab!

  • Scheduled Volunteers - shows all confirmed volunteers for connections that have not yet taken place.  
  • Pending Volunteers - shows all connections in pending status   (used for express interest opportunities, where this tab will be selected by default for your convenience!)
  • Waitlisted Volunteers - show all connections on the waitlist.  (Note: This tab does not appear for To Be Scheduled or Individually Scheduled as they don't have waitlists)
  • Attendance Due - shows all confirmed connections in the past, where attendance status is "please verify"
  • Attendance Reported - shows all confirmed connections where the attendance has been reported  (this is essentially, the volunteer history for this occurrence)
  • Declined Volunteers -- shows all connections with status "Declined"
  • Other Volunteers - shows connections that are missing date and times, a place where you can correct the data errors.

Click here to see additional details of the new Connections Grid. and how to use it in conjunction with Individually Scheduled Opportunities.

Improved Connections Grid in the Occurrence Record

4.1. This update will also happen in all partner and volunteer leader portal - so we recommend you announce this to them.

The use of the new connections grid is self-explanatory but it may nonetheless come as a surprise to your partners and volunteer leaders.  So we recommend you announce this update to them and to make it easy for you to share the news, we've added documentation to the partner and volunteer leader portals on how the new grid works.

Partners:   http://partners.handsonconnect.org/m/11500/l/515574-managing-volunteers-with-the-connections-grid-in-the-occurrence-record

Volunteer Leaders:  http://leaders.handsonconnect.org/m/leaders_premium/l/515574-managing-volunteers-with-the-connections-grid-in-the-occurrence-record

5. Improvement to date display of TBS and Individually Scheduled Opportunity detail page

People have long been confused about the date displaying for To Be Scheduled Opportunities on the opportunity detail page.  It always listed the opportunity date as beginning on the start date of the opportunity.

5.1. How Ongoing opportunities USED to appear:

2010?  Really?

How Ongoing opportunities USED to appear:

5.2. How they'll now appear:

Start date doesn't appear IF the start date is in the past.

How they'll now appear:

5.3. And for Individually Scheduled Opportunities with future start dates:

If, the start date is in the future (which is possible with the new Individually Scheduled Opportunities) then the Start Date will appear so that volunteers know they can only schedule themselves during that time period:

And for Individually Scheduled Opportunities with future start dates:

One of the more confusing fields in the occurrence record has been the field called "Update all the existing connections?"  which required a value of  Yes or No when you edited a connection.   In version 3 of the occurrence page layout, we recommended labeling this section "Update all connections when editing date and time specific occurrences (not TBS)"  so users would make the correct choice for this field.   This helped - but still was relatively confusing.  People invariably forgot to pick a yes or no value for this field, and would get a reminder message telling them it was required.

In this release we've automated the process by which connections are appropriately updated (or not) when editing an occurrence.  So this confusing field is no longer needed!!   Hurrah!  Now, when you edit a date and time specific occurrence the connections will automatically be updated to be in tune with the changes.  To Be Scheduled (and our new "Individually Scheduled") connections, will not be wrongly updated.

What this means to you is:  This field no longer does anything and is not needed on the page layout.  We recommend, for simplicity sake, that all system admins remove this field from the page layouts where this field is present.  No one will miss it!

Administrators:   Here's what you need to do to remove this deprecated field from your page layouts:

Easier Editing for Occurrence Records  HOCAVV-272    (***Administrative Action Recommended)

6.1. Administrative Action:   Go to Objects / Occurrence

Go to the Page Layout section and select Staff Occurrence Layout v3.  

(Note:  If your profiles are not using the v3 page layouts, now's a good time to upgrade these.  We recommended your making this change a couple of years ago!  It makes your page layouts much easier to use!    See this article on how to start using the v3 page layouts for occurrences, connections and volunteer opportunities.  if you are still using the original or v2 page layouts for Occurrences, Volunteer Opportunities and Connections.  If you are still using the old layouts because you weren't comfortable upgrading the page layout on your own - open a zendesk ticket and request that we update you to the v3 page layouts - we'll be happy to take care of this for you.)

If f you have your own custom page layouts for occurrences, then make the appropriate change to the occurrence page layout you are using.)

Click on the edit link.


Administrative Action:   Go to Objects / Occurrence

6.2. Delete the field "Update all the existing connections?"

Click on the Minus button to delete the field from the layout.

Delete the field "Update all the existing connections?"

6.3. Rename the section called "Update all connections when editing Date & Time......"

We no longer need this name.  Let's name it something simpler.  To do this:

Click on the wrench to the extreme right of the section title:


Rename the section called "Update all connections when editing Date & Time......"

6.4. Edit the section name and rename:

Rename the Section:  Occurrence Schedule and Status.

Click OK.

Edit the section name and rename:

6.5. Remove the field "Update all the existing connections?" from the page layout

Drag it off the layout or hit the minus sign to delete it from the layout.

Remove the field "Update all the existing connections?" from the page layout

6.6. Click on Quick Save on the top of the page.

Click on Quick Save on the top of the page.

6.7. Select the layout "Partner Staff Occurrence v3"

Click on the triangle next to the layout name, and select "Partner Staff Occurrence v3"

Make the same changes to this layout.  Click Save when finished   (or update any other occurrence layouts you are currently using, and then click Save.)

Your finished page layouts will no longer have this confusing, and now unnecessary, field.   HandsOn Connect is now even easier to use for your staff and your partners!  

Select the layout "Partner Staff Occurrence v3"

7. Advanced controls over the sending of automated emails (HOC-169)

Advanced controls over the sending of automated emails (HOC-169)

The ability to turn on or off email triggers for specific projects has been a top feature request of advanced users in the feature forum for years. It's also the subject of a lot of zendesk tickets.  Users have asked if there was "a way to stop the automated email from being sent" so that Opportunity Coordinators or Volunteer Leaders could send their own personalized emails instead of the automated ones.  

Up to now, its been possible to suppress the sending of certain automated emails system-wide.  You can turn off workflows sending emails to volunteers, and you can use the control panel to turn off email notifications to Opportunity Coordinators.  However -- this meant turning off these emails system-wide.   There was no way to disable emails send to one opportunity coordinator without turning it off for everyone!  There was no way to say that for occurrences of an ongoing opportunity, you didn't want reminder emails sent to volunteers for every connection they had to this same opportunity.  

Effective with the Spring 2016 Release it will be possible for System Administrators to enable advanced functionality, at the occurrence level, to suppress the sending of the following  emails:

Emails sent to Volunteers:

  • Confirmation Email sent when signing up or expressing interest in an opportunity
  • Reminder Email
  • Post Opportunity (thank you and feedback) email.

Emails sent to Opportunity Coordinators

  • Notification of volunteer sign ups
  • Notification of volunteer removals
  • Notification of volunteer added to waitlist.

If you don't need to use this functionality, no action is needed on your part, but its available for advanced system admins who wish more detailed control over the emails sent for individual occurrences.   For most users - this isn't something you'll need -- but its there for use in the future if and when you want more control over email notifications.

If you DO wish to enable this feature for your system admin and staff,  see this article for instructions on enabling this by editing the occurrence page layout.   (It's also possible to enable this for Partner Staff and Volunteer Leader, though if you opt to do this, we recommend using permissions sets so only selected partners and VLs have access.  In the hands of someone who doesn't understand the ramifications of disabling auto-emails, it could be detrimental.   The two articles linked here have more detail on who should and shouldn't give access to, if anyone :-)

See this post for instructions on using these fields once they are enabled in your instance.

8. Meta Tag Access for CMS pages (HOC-189)

This feature has been much-requested by Search Engine power users:  The ability to create meta-tags for individual HandsOn Connect CMS pages!

Now when you create or edit a page in the CMS, you will see new fields and options for the meta-tags, which include:

  • Title: This is the title a search engine will use to index the page.   It should be descriptive and specific to the page, and include, if possible, the main keyword or two that represent the content of the page.  It is best if kept to less than 60 characters.
  • Description: Contains the text that that describes your page to most search engines.  Best if kept to less than 150 characters.
  • Keywords: Best if keywords are specific to this page and are in the content of the page. Too many keywords and non-relevant keywords will hurt your search engine optimization.  Not all search engines use this meta-tag.  Keywords are single words with no spaces.  Separate keywords with a comma.  Example: Volunteer,Mission
  • Do not index: Select this option if you do not want this page indexed by search engines.
  • Do not follow: Select this option if you do not want search engine crawlers to follow any links on the page, though the page itself will be indexed.

If you are unfamiliar with Search Engine Optimization you can certainly leave these fields blank and ignore them.  When blank, the normal search parameters used by the site are in effect. These fields just give you more control over how search engines treat a specific page within your public site. You can also choose to use these options selectively on some pages and leave them blank in others.

Meta Tag Access for CMS pages (HOC-189)

9. Social Media Integration Improvements (meta tags - and improved social sharing) (HOC-165)

This improvement is for those of you looking to optimize your content when shared with social media sites such as Facebook, Google and Twitter.  This will give you more control of how your content appears on these social media sites.  It will also improve how your website is indexed and ranked by search engines, such as Bing, Google and Yahoo.

The Social Media Integration Improvements include:

  1. We added social meta tags for Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. These are tags that are hidden from plain site but provide valuable information to social media sites when content is shared from your site.
  2. We’ve updated the share button on volunteer opportunity detail pages, so that you and your users have more control over what you share about the opportunity with social network sites.  You’ll be able to comment on the material you’re sharing, and fine tune who it is shared with.
Social Media Integration Improvements (meta tags - and improved social sharing) (HOC-165)

10. "Posting Status" field on Volunteer Opportunity and Occurrence records will now be updated and accurate each day!  (HOC-252)

The "Posting Status" field in volunteer opportunities and occurrences was added to HandsOn Connect because the 'status' field had little to do with whether or not a volunteer opportunity was actually appearing on the public site.  It told you if the opportunity was now published and available for sign-up, and if not, why it wasn't appearing.  

However -- as many of you have reported, it wasn't always accurate. The field updated itself whenever you edited the volunteer opportunity record, but if the date of the last occurrence went by, it still indicated that the opportunity was published. There were a number of scenarios in which the posting status field was out of synch with the status of its occurrences or the current date. You had to manually update the volunteer opportunity to get it to refresh and indicate the current posting status. so the field was sometimes inaccurate - because dates changed, even if the opportunity record wasn't edited.

A new automation has been added to HandsOn Connect which will run a nightly update of all occurrences and volunteer opportunities, ensuring that the posting status is accurate and up to date each day.  This will make this field a much more useful piece of information for partners, admins, and for use in reports and views.

"Posting Status" field on Volunteer Opportunity and Occurrence records will now be updated and accurate each day!  (HOC-252)

After Spring Release '16

After Spring Release '16

11. HandsOn Connect Add-On Store.  Public Beta.

We are excited to launch the new Add-on Store for HandsOn Connect, a one-stop interface to see all the compatible additions and solutions that can be optionally added to HandsOn Connect and Salesforce. You will find add-ons that that you can install with a couple of clicks, by following the instructions, or you can request that our team install them for you. We will periodically be adding more add-ons and updates.

Please keep in mind this is a beta version. We expect that there will be some hiccups and rough edges. Let us know where they are and we'll fix them as soon as possible.  

We are starting with a couple of add-ons, but we will be adding more on an ongoing basis.  These are the add-ons included in the first release of the HandsOn Store:

  • Check-in Kiosk: A mechanism to capture attendance at a volunteer event via a terminal, smartphone or a tablet at the volunteer site so that volunteers can check in as they arrive.
  • Click & Pledge:  Integrated Fundraising Software and Payments.
  • Facebook Listing App: Allows you to list you projects on your Facebook Fan Page.
  • HubSpot: From attracting visitors to closing customers, HubSpot brings your entire marketing funnel together.
  • Nonprofit Starter Pack 3 (NSPS): Helps you manage individual donors and their donations, memberships, relationships and company affiliations.
  • Optimizely: Optimized experiences, powered by data Create and deliver the best digital experience for each customer across devices.
  • Social Login: Social Login allows your volunteers to login using their Facebook account.
  • SSL Certificate Installation: An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate helps secure the connection between your users and your website.
  • Zopim: Award-winning Live Chat solution. The fastest way to engage your customers

The Add-on Store is available to users with Salesforce System Administrator rights.  

HandsOn Connect Add-On Store.  Public Beta.

11.1. System Admins will find a widget to access the AddOn Store in the left sidebar

System Admins will find a widget to access the AddOn Store in the left sidebar

Look at the bottom of the left sidebar (just above the recycle bin) for the link to the AddOn Store

12. NPSP 3 compatibility (HOC-266)

The ability to use version 3 of the NonProfit Starter in conjunction with HandsOn Connect has been on many organization's wish lists.  

We have tested and resolved issues related to using both apps in one instance of Salesforce and completed documentation on the custom install and configuration process for using NPSP3 with HandsOn Connect.

We will be providing documentation for those who wish to self-install and configure the NPSP.  It takes 6-10 hours to fully install and configure.  Our new Add-On Store also has an option where we will install and configure NPSP for you, as well as provide data import services if you've been using another donation tracking system.

Documentation for self-upgrading NPSP 2 to NPSP 3 will be added by summer.  (It's a more complicated process than installing NPSP 3 from scratch.)

13. Bug Fix:  Inappropriate email(s) sent when changing a contact's organization (HOC-224) (HOC-318)

The fix that was released in February turned out to be only a partial fix, and we turned off last months fix to prevent problems for users.

We've gone back and fixed this and also tackled a related bug (HOC-318) wherein users were getting emails telling them they had registered on the public site when a change was made to their contact record administratively.  Thanks to HandsOn Richmond and United Way of Greater St. Louis for giving us details on what causes these events to occur.

In this release we've done the following to address this.  (This is strictly FYI -- no action is needed on your part), but for those of you who tinker with workflows and such...

  1. Updated the managed workflow "Volunteer Registration Activation", so emails about successfully registering on the pubic site are only sent when a new contact is created via the public site.
  2. Deprecated the workflow "Volunteer Registration" and turned it off in your instance.  This pesky workflow has been replaced by a trigger.   Please do not reactivate this workflow again ;-)

We think this resolves it once and for all. But if you encounter any other issues where 'volunteer account has been created' emails are being sent to contacts for any other than the correct reasons -- please let us know.   (Boy - this has been a slippery bug to resolve!)

14. Bug Fix:  Fixed search for Public Teams on Public Site

HandsOn Nashville discovered an issue where a public team that was created was not found when searching for public teams by team name on the page: HOC__Search_Public_Teams_Page.      This has been fixed.  

Bug Fix:  Fixed search for Public Teams on Public Site

15. Bug Fix:  Typo

There was a typo of the word "opportunities" on the business page search box.  This has been corrected.

Bug Fix:  Typo

16. Coming Soon:

We have several features that were in development for this release but which are not yet ready to release.  Stay tuned in the next couple of months for the following:

  • Ability to administratively create multiple connections for volunteers.  
  • Faster, easier creation of new connections administratively.
  • A solution to the increasing problem of deliverability of emails from Volunteers and Volunteer Leaders with AOL, Yahoo, and (starting in June) Gmail email addresses.


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