How to Log Volunteer Hours

General Faqs

Volunteers

Volunteers: Logging Hours and Finding a Volunteer Site

Managers

Payment Questions

Embedding on Your Own Website

Roles

General FAQs

  • What is OurVolts?

OurVolts is a tool for volunteer, nonprofit, grassroots, and government organizations to track volunteer efforts. You can log your volunteer hours, which are shown in a graphical display, and see what others are contributing at your volunteer location. It is a collaboration between TechScouts and Tech Liminal.

  • Why should I log my volunteer hours on OurVolts?

It is easy, and the basic plan is free! Logged hours are also graphically displayed as soon as they are approved by the site administrator. Not only can volunteer managers and coordinators keep track of volunteers' hours, but volunteers themselves can also log their hours when they need to provide documentation to a school or organization. In addition, documentation of volunteer hours can aid in the grant application process when proof is needed.

  • What are the benefits of tracking volunteer hours online versus on paper?

In this day and age, it is becoming easier to share information with others through the internet. It is also more environmentally friendly to log hours online rather than on multiple sign in sheets of paper.

  • How do I sign up for the first time?

First, you must register for an OurVolts account , which is free. Then, if you click on Find a Site , and search for your volunteer site. If your site or project is not listed, click on the link that says "Want your project listed here? Find out how!" This will take you to the Plans page, where you will create a site.

  • I have registered with OurVolts - now what?

Start logging your hours! Click on Find a Site to choose a volunteer location. You will see a form that says Log Your Hours on the volunteer site page - enter your hours and click Submit. Your hours will be pending approval by the site administrator, but you will be able to see your own hours displayed on a graph. Once your volunteer site administrator has approved your hours for the first time, your hours will be added to the total number of hours of all the volunteers at your site.

  • I forgot my password, what do I do?

Just click on Login, and you will see a link to find your username and password . Once you're there, just enter your username or email address and you will receive further instructions via your registered email address.

  • Can I change my username?

If you don't like the text that's displayed on the graphs for your name, you are welcome to change it. Just go to your dashboard , and click on the 'Change Password and Email' button on the right-hand side of the page.

  • How Secure is OurVolts

Our site is built on top of Drupal, an open source web publishing platform used by many large websites, including whitehouse.gov and many institutions of higher learning. We use a reputable managed hosting provider, Pantheon, to host our site and keep it safe from many of the common internet attack vectors that affect websites.

  1. To keep data safe from accidents and hacking, we back up the site each day. This is done automatically by our hosting company.
  2. Users can also use a secure connection (https) to log in and enter their hours. This can also work with embedded hours forms, as long as the containing site is also using HTTPS.
  3. If volunteers are using our mobile application for Android or iOS, all information is sent over HTTPS.
  4. We recommend using a strong password that is not repeated on other sites, for additional security.

Volunteers

  • What are the benefits of using OurVolts?

* Volunteers, administrators and the public see the total contributions.
* View a graphical display of total hours and the top 10 volunteers - by site or groups of sites.
* Find volunteers and projects in your area to connect with your community.
* Use visible milestones to motivate volunteers & create friendly, constructive competition.
* Add time tracking into your existing site or social network, including graphs.
* See how individual participation adds up to real results visible in the community.
* Share data with local governments and other organizations - this can help with grant writing.
* Helps volunteers stay organized and keep track of the time they personally spend volunteering.

  • How can you bring more money to your organization by using OurVolts?

If you are a nonprofit organization applying for grants, it can be helpful to show documentation of volunteer hours worked.

Volunteers: Logging Hours and Finding a Volunteer Site

  • How do I log my volunteer hours?

Click on Find a Site to choose a volunteer location. You will see a form that says Log Your Hours on the volunteer site page - enter your hours and click Submit. Your hours will be pending approval by the site administrator, but you will be able to see your own hours displayed on a graph. Once your volunteer site administrator has approved your hours for the first time, your hours will be added to the total number of hours of all the volunteers at your site.

  • How do I find my volunteer site / location?

Go to Find a Site , and search for the name of your volunteer site, project, or location. You can type in your zip code to find volunteer sites in your community.

  • Why can't I find my volunteer site / location?

This probably means that your volunteer site or location is not registered on OurVolts yet. If you would like to create a site, go to the Plans page and click on the free Basic Plan. This will bring you to a page where you can register a new site.

  • Why can't I see my hours graphed publicly?

This most likely means that your site administrator has not approved your hours yet. They need to approve your hours the first time you log your hours.

  • Do I have to provide my name and phone number?

Right now, all that is required is a valid email address. Name and phone number are optional.
However, it's helpful to provide your name for the volunteer coordinators who will need to approve your hours.

  • How do I find a location where I can volunteer?

You can search for volunteer locations close to you by typing in your zip code on the Find a Site page .

  • How do I contact the volunteer site coordinator?

When a volunteer logs their hours at a project site, an email is sent to that site's coordinator, enabling volunteers to communicate their concerns and questions at the same time they log an entry. You can also send a message using the contact link provided in the header of the site, but please mention the site you are looking at when you do that.

  • How do I add a new entry / How do I log more hours and activities?

Go to your volunteer site page and you will see a form that says Log Your Hours.

  • How do I find video tutorials to help me learn how to use OurVolts?

There are video tutorials on OurVolts' YouTube channel . These videos cover how to register on OurVolts, tracking your hours, and managing volunteer activity on OurVolts.

  • How do I find a site in my neighborhood using the map?

You can search for volunteer locations close to you by typing in your zip code on the Find a Site page .

  • I made a mistake - how do I change the hours I've entered

You can change any of your entries from your dashboard, once you're logged in.

You will see your most recent entries in a box near the top left.  If you see the entry you need to change, you can click on the little edit link next to it.

Click on "more details" to see a list of all your time entries. You can modify any of them at any time.

Managers

  • What is OurVolts?

OurVolts is an online tool that can be used by volunteers and volunteer coordinators to log hours and record data. It is a collaboration between Tech Liminal and TechScouts.

  • What are the benefits of using OurVolts? or Why should I use OurVolts to manage my volunteers?

Volunteer Managers can save time by having volunteers log their own hours. Instant recognition that volunteers receive for their hard work is itself an incentive. "Top Volunteers" data will motivate volunteers to regularly contribute to their project.

  • What are the benefits of logging hours online vs. on paper?

When hours are logged manually (on paper, for example), someone has to collect those hours from volunteers and then enter the information into a database. This can be tedious. OurVolts online tracking saves managers time because volunteers can enter hours themselves from a remote location. Graphs of the data (which can be presented to potential funders) are automatically created and updated instantly.

  • How do I approve my volunteers?

Log in to OurVolts.com. Go to the page for your site. If there are volunteers that need to be approved, you will see "pending" on the right hand side.

Go to your site page and click "Manage" which is under "Visit Website" on the left side of the page. There is a sidebar on the left hand side of the page that will allow you to enter hours for "Admin Managed" volunteers, which are users you create yourself. You can associate actual users with these hours later.

 

  •   How do I access the management interface?

Log into OurVolts.com. On the left hand side, you will see "your volunteer sites." Click the link for "Manage."

  • How can I share data from my site (with local government etc.)?

Owners, managers and coordinators can export information about volunteer hours. Once you've logged in, go to the hour log that you'd like to share. Click on "export" at the bottom of the chart. You can save the csv file to your computer and send it via email as an attachment.

  • How do I become the owner of a site?

To become owner of a site, you will have to create it if it is not yet listed on OurVolts. To do this, click "Find a site." Then click "find out how" (to register your project). If you are on a free or basic plan and have already created a site, you will need to upgrade to a group plan in order to list other sites.

If a site is already listed on our page, but has no owner, all you have to do is click "Claim." If you would like to step down as coordinator or owner, please contact us directly.

  • If my site doesn't have a coordinator, how can I become the coordinator?

Go to your dashboard. Click "Manage" on the left hand side of the screen. Click on a user, then click "Upgrade to Coordinator."

  • How do I add multiple projects to my site management dashboard?

To add multiple sites to your account, you will need to upgrade to the group plan. Then click "contact" on the main menu. Send us a detailed message about the projects you'd like to add.

  • How do I register a site that is not listed?

Click "Find a Site." Then click "Find out How." Register your new site by clicking on the Free Plan. If you are on a free or basic plan and have already created a site, you will need to upgrade to a group plan in order to list other sites.

  • Where can I see a user's profile information (first and last name)?

To see a users real name, you have 3 options if they entered one:

  1. Appears in a users' profile if you click on the user's name in the right hand area in the notes sections
  2. Appears in the logs in parentheses after their name
  3. Appears in exported logs
  • Can I change another users' name or profile information?

They need to do it themselves in their own dashboard by going to "Edit Profile." You can also enter notes about an individual through the manage interface when you click on a username.

  • How do I delete test users?

Right now we have no facility for users to be deleted unless you send us their names. You can block a user and their hours will not be in the total aggregate logs and graphs.

  • When would you enter info for a "New Group/Volunteer" field?

The New Group/Volunteer is commonly used for logging hours for:

  • groups of people who do not have accounts
  • volunteer sites where volunteers do not log their own hours online

If all your volunteers are logging their own hours, this shouldn't be an issue.

  • Can I just tell my volunteers to enter their email address for both their "User Name" and "Email Address"?

We require each user to have a username and an email address, however they may use an email as their username as well. If they forget their username or password, they can enter the email address on our "forgot your username/password" page.

  • Will I get an email every time someone logs hours?

Only people with the role of "coordinators" should be getting emails.

  • Is there a way to bypass approving individual's volunteer hours that they enter?

Yes, there is a setting called "Approve Volunteer" when you manage your site.

  • How do I see what a normal volunteer would see?

Creating 1 test account should suffice. Just make sure to log out of your admin user and log in as that user to do your testing.

  • Can we have subactivities for the activities in the hour log form?

Right now, we do not have submenus, just a single hierarchy. You could however do something like this:

Meetings
-Prepared
-Attended
-Took Notes

The group plan allows you to create separate sites, so you may a have meetings site, a conferences site, an event site, each with their own drop-down of activities. You would then have a group that would allow you to aggregate the graphs for each one of these sites. It adds extra complexity to your workflow but may work for your use case. Let me know if you'd like to discuss this further.

Payment Questions

  • What are my payment options?

If you go to the Plans page, you will find the 3 different payment plans available. There is a free plan, a basic plan and a group plan.

  • Is there a payment plan?

Right now, you can contact OurVolts via the contact form to set up a payment plan.

  • What plan should I choose if I coordinate a large volunteer base and need extra support?

If you manage lots of volunteers at multiple sites, you should choose the group plan (link). This plan gives you unlimited hour submissions, phone support, online training and the capacity for up to 20 projects.

Embedding on Your Own Website

  • How do I get access to the embed forms?

Once you have paid for a site, an "embed" page will be accessible from your site's management dashboard

  • How does a new user join a site through the embedded form?

The new user must first volunteer through our site and then will need to join the site or just start volunteering hours after they've signed in.

  • Once the new user joins a site, how do they make sure they volunteer at our site?

Once they sign in, they are redirected to your specific iframe page on OurVolts and can start logging hours immediately. They do not get sent back to your website the first time.

  • The hour log shows an empty hour field instead of a dropdown menu, why?

Since you are seeing the embedded form as the site owner / manager, you see a text box where you can put in any number you want. Only you will have this view. People will not have a freeform box, only you will. They will have a dropdown.

  • Can a user see the hours they've logged?

No, the hour log is specifically for hour logging and embedding graphs. They will need to go their dashboard on OurVolts to see their own hours.

  • Will a volunteer be redirected away from the embedded form?

Once you embed the form on your site, they will be able to directly enter hours on your site and will never visit our site. You also have the option to embed graphs on your site as well. The embed is only for hour logging. If a user wants to see their own hour log history or update their account information, they will need to go to the OurVolts website to do so.

  • Will I be able to run reports or export the information for back-end reporting purposes?

Yes, you can export all the data into Excel.

Roles

  • What are the different roles and what can they do?


An owner:
* Can edit a site
* Can set roles
* Can manage a site's volunteers
* Can block or approve volunteers
* Can see volunteer hours

A manager:
* Can edit a site
* Cannot set roles
* Can manage a site's volunteers
* Can block or approve volunteers
* Can see volunteer hours

A coordinator:
* Cannot edit a site
* Cannot set roles
* Can manage a site's volunteers
* Can block or approve volunteers
* Can see volunteer hours
* Can see volunteer hours
* Receives emails every time a user joins a site
* Receives emails every time a user submits hours

A reporter:
* Cannot edit a site
* Cannot set roles
* Cannot manage a site's volunteers
* Cannot block or approve volunteers
* Can see volunteer hours