How Assignment Scheduling Works
Timecounts assignment schedules are a flexible and powerful tool to help you organize multiple assignments in one place. Whereas event schedules are built in as part of the event, assignment schedules have their own section in the Organize tab. This is because assignment schedules let you add as many assignments as needed to one schedule.
Assignment schedules are also ongoing. When you create a schedule, you'll be asked to choose a start date and a publishing structure. Choose to publish by week, month, or three month increments.
Grouping multiple assignments in one schedule means you can create schedules for specific locations, programs, or timeframes, and manage all of your ongoing assignment shifts in manner that makes sense for the structure of your organization.
When you publish an assignment schedule, you'll be asked if you want to notify all volunteers qualified for the assignments you're scheduling. If you choose to notify, volunteers will receive an email informing them that a new schedule has been published by your organization, and that there are shifts available for signup. There's a button in the email to signup for shifts. The button will prompt the volunteer to either login or create an account.
To signup for shifts, assignment volunteers login with their Timecounts account, click the 'My Activities' tab in your hub, select their assignment in the left column, and then click to see available shifts.
This process keeps assignment scheduling private between your organization and the volunteers you've approved for each assignment.
Create a Schedule
- To create a schedule, go to the Organize tab in the main navigation and click 'Create New' in the top right corner. Select 'Schedule'.
2) Fill out the schedule name, start date and publish structure. Assignment schedules are ongoing, but you can decide whether you'd like to publish by week, month, or three month increments.
3) Select the location for the schedule. If you will have more than one location in your schedule, select the city or region that best represents all locations. The general schedule location you enter here is used to establish the time zone. Click 'Create Schedule'.
4) Add assignments. Check the box beside an assignment to add it to the schedule, then click 'Next'.
5) Add specific locations. This is where you can add more specific locations or sites to your schedule. If your additional locations are addresses that can be found in a Google map, just type to find and select them in the text box.
If your locations are sites at the same address (for example, Room A and Room B), type to add the street address, then click the edit pencil beside the location to change it's place name once it's added to your list.
The location Place Name is what you'll see in the schedule, what your volunteers will see when they signup.
In the example screenshot below, 'Toronto Humane Society' was added four times to the list (since it has an address and Google Map pin), then each listing was edited to replace the Place Name with 'Block A', 'Block B', or 'Block C'.
6) Add Shifts. Once you've added your locations (or skipped this step) you're ready to see the schedule and add shifts!
If you want your schedule to be ongoing, you need to setup your repeating shifts before you extend your schedule (and set your shifts to repeat far into the future).
Shifts are the specific time frames that someone will be volunteering for. Every shift has an assignment, location, and an optional 'reference'. When you create a shift, it will assume the name of the assignment and location it's attached to. But you can further differentiate one shift from another with the optional 'Reference' descriptor. This is one or two words to describe the particulars of that shift. Reference can be used to further describe location (e.g., Front Desk), or shift tasks (e.g., 'Large Dogs', 'On-Call')
- Select the Date and Start Time of the shift.
- Select the duration. The end time will auto-populate based on the duration you enter for the shift.
- Set the repeating pattern (see section on Repeating Shifts below)
- Set a minimum number and maximum number of people who can be assigned to this shift. Minimums and maximums help guide your recruitment and schedule management.
If you select 'Start a waiting list after maximum volunteers confirmed', volunteers will see the shift still available for signup, but with the button 'Join Waitlist' instead of 'Select Shift'. Note that there is no order to the waitlist. If 'start a waiting list' isn't checked, the shift will appear on the shift signup page as full, and closed for signup.
Shift limits and waitlist list status can always be edited later - simply click on the shift and select 'edit shift' to change the settings.
When you're happy with the settings of your new shift, click either 'Create' or 'Create and Add Another'. Create and Add Another saves your shift to the schedule but keeps the 'New Shift' pop-up open, with your location and role pre-selected for you to add the next shift quickly.
Since assignments schedules are ongoing, you will want to create repeating shifts to save you time setting up your schedule. You must create repeating shifts before you extend the schedule.
When you create a repeating shift, multiple shifts will appear in your schedule, one for each instance in your repeating pattern. To make the shift repeat, simply select the desired repeating pattern in the 'Repeat' dropdown when creating the shift. Note: this shift repeats, but different people can be assigned to it at different times. A regular shift cannot be made to repeat once it's already created.
Choose the 'Custom' pattern to create more complicated patterns, such as 'every Monday to Friday'.
Be careful when setting the 'Repeat Until' date. You can set this date far into the future (even years!). But if you set the shift to repeat only until the end of your first month or three-month schedule section, the shifts will not be copied over when you add your next schedule section.
Viewing the Schedule
To view the shifts you've added to the schedule, use the dropdowns and toggles at the top of the screen. At this point, all of the shifts in your schedule will be empty, so they appear as white. But as they fill, they'll turn blue.
There are three calendar options: Day, Week, and Month. Clicking on the arrows beside the date range will move you through your schedule according to the calendar selected. You can also click on the date itself to open a drop-down month calendar, if you need to jump to a specific day.
This screenshot shows a schedule with the Day Calendar. The blue shifts are full, the striped blue shifts are partially full. White shifts are empty. Click on the arrows on either side of the date at the top of the screen to move from day to day. Click on the schedule itself and drag left or right to scroll the timeframe.
This screenshot shows a schedule with the Week Calendar. Shifts on the same day stack on top of one another, and the time of the shift has moved to the top of the block. The circular arrow icon on the shifts indicates that those shifts are part of a repeating pattern of shifts. Click on a shift to reveal its details, edit its settings, or assign someone to it.
This screenshot shows a schedule with the month calendar. Click on a day of the month to display a list of that day's shifts in the left column. You can then click on a shift in the left column to reveal its details, edit its settings, or assign someone.
Publishing your Schedule
Continue to add shifts and positions until your schedule is complete. When you've created all of the shifts and needed for the current schedule section, it's time to publish your first schedule section! Click 'Publish' in the top right.
Once you click 'Publish', a pop-up will appear, asking if you want to notify everyone associated with the schedule. If you select 'Publish and notify', everyone who is qualified for one of the assignments in the schedule will receive an email announcing that the latest schedule is published, with a button link to login and signup for shifts.
Note: this email cannot be customized or edited. If you'd rather send a custom message, just select 'Publish - don't notify' when publishing your schedule.
Once the schedule is published, shifts will appear for signup in the Community Hub, under the 'My Activities' tab. Only volunteers who are qualified for the assignments in the schedule will see the shifts. To test before informing volunteers, add yourself as a qualified volunteer to one of the assignments and navigate to the 'My Activities' tab in the hub.
Extending the Schedule
When you’re ready to create your next schedule section, navigate to the end of your schedule and click ‘Extend Schedule’.
Extending the schedule will add a new week, month, or three month section. You can copy all active repeating shifts forward into the next section.
It's not possible to create repeating shifts that span schedule sections after you've extended the schedule. So be sure to set-up your repeating shifts first.
At this time, Timecounts doesn’t support copying volunteer participation into new schedule sections. So if you have regular volunteers, you will need to assign them to their repeating shift patterns for each schedule section that you create.
Once the schedule has been extended and your shifts are copied over, you can then publish the new schedule section for volunteer signup, and notify your volunteers.