Organizing Online


A critical step in online organizing is providing the world with a form and a reason to fill it out. In this area, Powerbase has a lot of options! In Organizing Online, we'll cover how to create custom fields, profiles, petitions, webforms and more. We will review the difference between creating a new field and adding a field to a form. And, we'll cover how online and in-person organizing are inseparable components of any campaign.

Prerequisite: Comfortable adding and editing contacts, contributions, events and activities.


Training materials, including login information on the training database will be sent to everyone who is registered.

Day 1: Forms and Custom Fields

1:00 pm Eastern Time (approximately 120 minutes)

  • Ground rules and introductions - What does "online organizing" mean?
  • Orientation - N
  • Logging in and getting around - J
  • FORMS overview: Demonstration from various Powerbase sites slides
    • Creating an email sign up profile - tip sheet -N
    • Problem > My form looks terrible, why can't it look like my website?! Solution: ThemeKey - tip sheet -J
    • Profiles for contribution pages and events - adding profile for event screen cast -N
    • Problem > But wait, I can't find the field to record food preference? -N
    • Core Fields vs Powerbase Custom Fields vs your custom fields (below the line) - tip sheet
    • EXERCISE: make a list on a riseup pad of all the custom data your organization needs to collect that you are pretty sure nobody else needs
      • Ask one volunteer to put them in the categories: Contact, Event participant, Contribution, Activity

ASSIGNMENT: look in your own database to see if you can identify custom fields that you and your co-workers may have created (don't change anything!) Come prepared with any questions you may have about your org's custom fields. -N

Day 2: Advanced Forms: Petitions, Using Activities in Forms and Intro to Webforms

1:00 pm Eastern Time (approximately 120 minutes)

  • Review Agenda -N
  • Introduce network site and training site -N
  • Questions from assignment or anything on Day 1 - N
    • When you saw your org's custom fields, were you dying to delete or clean them up? STOP!
      • What happens to existing forms or data when you delete a custom field
      • Someone else may be using the fields
  • CUSTOM FIELDS continued
    • DEMO: Review riseup pad from yesterday's exercise and create event-related custom fields from the list
    • Update our event profile to display our new custom fields
  • PETITIONS: Problem > I don't want just a form, I want people to sign a petition!
    • There is no such thing as an online petition, just an excuse for people to give you their contact info.
    • Using a profile instead
    • Ok....if you insist, we'll use a petition
      • Examples of when it would work better than a simpler option
      • DEMO: basic petition setup and using petition email. tip sheet
  • ACTIVITIES: Problem > I need to know exactly when someone filled in my form, or I want to assign a phone call follow up to a staff member after someone fills out my form.
    • Activity needs to be created when form is filled out
    • Custom Activity Types and Custom activity fields
    • Webforms - Introduction/Summary - tip sheet
  • Practice what we've learned so far (online now, or as homework): Pick a scenario and create the necessary fields and forms -N facilitates
    • You are organizing an event and want to offer ride pools: create an event registration page with appropriate fields to organize
    • You are organizing an online meeting with both English and Spanish speakers. You only want to hire an interpreter if you have mono-lingual speakers of both languages
    • You are organizing a contribution page and want to give people the option of getting a t-shirt in the right size
    • You want people to sign a petition to oppose a planned oil pipeline
    • You want a form for "hotline" requests where folks can ask for assistance with different services (e.g. mutual aid, information, referral, or followup call) and you need to know when they submitted their request (hint: you'll need to create a custom activity - and DON'T STRESS if you can't complete creating the form yet!).

Day 3: Webforms and Putting it all Together

1:00 pm Eastern Time (approximately 120 minutes)

  • Review agenda -N
  • Introduce network site and training site -N
  • Show and tell from assignment, and questions from the training so far - N
  • WEBFORMS continued: demo and examples (go into webform detail, continue filling out this section - some items below may belong in webforms intro)
    • Form settings - permissions
    • Email Notifications
    • Editing labels to display questions or display bilingually
    • Field display options: Hidden, Private, changing lists to checkboxes or radio buttons, etc.
    • Displaying some options and not others
    • Setting default values
    • Using look-up or search fields and caveats
    • Collecting information from more than one contact and creating relationships
    • Moving fields and hiding fields
    • Adding additional text using Markup
    • Using webform custom fields vs. Powerbase fields
    • Handling contributions (need extension enabled)
    • Using Fieldsets to group fields together
    • Using conditionals to decide when to show fields (or group of fields in a field set)
    • Setting themes
  • Problem > I love what you're doing with my theme but it still doesn't look right! General tip sheet
    • Solution: give us feedback and we'll make your theme look better
    • HTML Snippet: non solution
    • iframe
    • Solution: REMOTE FORM demo - tip sheet
  • How does this all fit together? REVIEW of forms and when to use what
    • Forms are a collection of fields used for data entry
    • Profiles, contribution pages, event registration pages, petitions, webforms, remote forms, etc.. OMG how to choose? Some questions to consider
      • How does filling out the form fit into your organizing workflow?
      • How do you plan to search for or report on the data entered into the form?
      • Do you want to collect money on the form?
      • Do you want to register people for an event?
      • Do you need an activity on the form?
      • Do you envision people filling out the form just once (newsletter sign up) or multiple times (e.g. evaluation of a program, or application for a grant)?
    • Review of Custom Fields: a place in your database to put data specific to your organization (creating your UNICORN field)
      • Reminder of Core Fields vs. PB Custom Fields vs. Your Custom Fields
  • Other Tricks:
    • Using webforms to have members update their information and respond to additional questions - tip sheet
    • How to send automated email notifications from forms
      • use built-in email notification features whenever possible (e.g. from Events, Contributions, Webforms, etc.)
      • Schedule Reminders (e.g. to send reminders when memberships are 1 month before expiration, or special welcome email or invite for new members)
      • CiviRules + extension to send email (when Schedule Reminders can't do the trick for you!)
  • EXERCISE: More complicated scenarios (small groups and report backs) -N facilitate report back
  • Future of forms
    • Formbuilder is coming
    • remoteform will be replaced
  • Evaluations - N
  • Wrap-up and Final Questions - N
Training Category: 
PDF icon online-organizing-examples.pdf1.02 MB