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Custom data

The sign-up form and the volunteer interest form both use profiles to collect information from volunteers. A profile is a set of questions to be asked on a form, and each question must correspond to one database field in CiviCRM. If you want to include a question on your form which does not correspond to a field that already exists in CiviCRM, you'll need to add a custom field first, before you can add this question to the profile used for your form.


Learn more about custom data in the User Guide.

For example, let's say you want the volunteer interest form to ask "Are you CPR certified?". CiviCRM doesn't come with a field for this data, so we'll need to add a custom data field for it.

The "Volunteer Information" set of custom fields

Custom data fields are stored in "sets". Sets can be attached to different CiviCRM entities, like "Contact" or "Contribution". When CiviVolunteer is installed it creates a set called "Volunteer Information" which is attached to contacts. This set of custom fields provides a good place to store information about the skills and interests of your volunteers, and the fields within it are exposed when searching for volunteers within the Assign Volunteers interface.

Contact sub-type must be Volunteer

For the Volunteer Information set to become visible, a contact will need to have Volunteer selected as a sub-type. To do this for one individual choose Edit and find the Contact Type field.

By default there is one field in this set called "Camera Skill Level", mostly as an example for you to follow when creating your own custom fields.

Adding a new custom field

  1. Go to Administer > Custom Data and Screens > Custom Fields.
  2. Find the Volunteer Information set.
  3. Click View and Edit Custom Fields.
  4. Click Add Custom Field.
  5. Select settings as necessary.

    Tip: use a short field label

    Use something short but descriptive for Field Label (e.g. "CPR Certification" for our example above). It will only be visible to staff — the general public will see a different label which you set in the profile.

    Tip: make it searchable

    New fields are not searchable by default. You must check the box for Is this Field Searchable. If the field is not searchable, you won't be able to use it within the Assign Volunteers interface.

Field type

When adding a new custom field it's important to consider the field type carefully. To return to our example above, if you want to ask volunteers "Are you CPR certified?", you might decide to use "yes or no" for the field type. But because CPR certification expires it might be better to ask "When were you last CPR certified?" and store CPR certification as a date instead.

Slider widget

CiviVolunteer adds the option to use a slider when choosing the value for a field, which can be helpful when gathering data about the skills or interests of volunteers.

Slider demonstration

To use the slider:

  1. Set Data and Input Field Type to Alphanumeric and Multi-Select.
  2. Check the Use Slider Selector box (further down the form).
  3. Ensure that the Multiple Choice Options for the field are in the correct order. (Items listed first in the list will appear to the left, while items further down the list will appear to the right.)

The options in the multi-select list are converted to stops on a slider. When data is saved through this slider interface, the field will take the value of the option at the slider's position, which means you can search for it like any other set of options.

Placing your custom field in a profile

If you're trying to ask a custom question to volunteers when they sign up or express interest, then you're not done yet once you've added the custom field! You need to put this custom field into a profile.