Tendenci In-Depth Feature Guide – Help Files Module

help files angled with borderThe Help Files Module is included with all Tendenci websites, and is a Tendenci module that I use daily for documenting training guides, tips & tricks, and standards/best practices for Tendenci client websites. I was surprised to discover that many of you aren’t using or fully utilizing this module on your Tendenci websites. So I thought I’d provide an in-depth look into the Tendenci Help Files Module, and show you how other associations are using this built-in ‘Wiki‘ tool to engage with their community and succeed in their online fundraising goals.

Let’s dive in and get to know Tendenci’s Help Files Module!

Why? –> Wiki’s Increase Participation!

help files admin top bar blue menu drop down

Wiki, Help Files, Resource Library, Knowledge Base… these are just a few names that people commonly use to refer to a web application that allows users to add and edit content through their web browser with the purpose of collaboratively managing knowledge online.

The best reason your Association should be using some kind of Wiki tool is because it provides more opportunities for your members and donors to interact with you and feel like they’re really part of moving your mission forward.

I recommend you check out a terrific presentation, by Julie Spriggs, that gives you tons of insight into how Nonprofits can use a Wiki for different collaborative projects including:

  • Maintaining a central repository of knowledge that your Association has amassed
  • Managing large projects that involve lots of moving pieces and diverse people/roles
  • Collaborative document creation and management
  • Planning large events like your annual fundraising Gala or membership drive
  • Organizing your knowledge base by department and committee groups
  • Connect with and involve  your constituents in your association’s activities
  • And more…!

Wikis For Nonprofits from Julie Spriggs

Wiki’s provide a platform for everyone involved with your organization to come together and communicate, collaborate, and share their knowledge and ideas.

Wiki or Help Files…?

Tendenci websites all come with the module called “Help Files”, but we know you probably want to pick your own name to suit your organization. You can easily change the label of the module that displays on your website’s public pages inside your Help Files site settings.

help files settings and place to change name

What’s Included in the Help Files Module?

Tendenci’s Help Files Module gives your organization a built-in wiki tool as part of your association management platform, and we’ve built Help Files flexibly so you can use it for different purposes depending on your unique nonprofit’s needs.

Here’s my top 3 Neatest Features of the Help Files Module

You can try out all the features on our Live Demo Site. Just head here: http://www.tendenci.com/try-now to get Super User access!

1) Use the Selective Permission Controls for tiered access to different Help Files, enabling everyone in your community to collaborate to your knowledge base securely and privately as needed by your association’s procedures and polices. Check out the screenshot below that demonstrates how easy it is to selectively share access for viewing and making changes to individual help files.

help files permissions advanced options

Tendenci organizes your User permissions by Users, Memberships, and User Group types. You can create custom User Groups and add individual users and then provide them with secure access to only the files they should have access to.

2) Tendenci makes it easy to Automatically Filter and Promote your most important Help Files with the Help File Sidebar.

is featured is faq help files add front end checkbox

The Help File sidebar provides quick access for your site users to Request a Help File as well as a menu for Help Files that have been marked as Featured, FAQ (stands for Frequently Answered Questions), and Most Viewed. When new help files are added to your website and include one of these three tags, they’ll automatically be displayed on the sidebar.

3) Use Topics to Organize and Segment Your website’s Help Files Module. Only Super Users can add new topics and at least one topic must be selected when adding a new Help File. This helps you keep your online community resource files organized and easy to find.

add and change topics for help files

Whenever a member adds a new help file and selects the topic, then this help file will only show under that topic. Topics that don’t have help files won’t be displayed on the main menu, so you can create your Topics using a predetermined structure before you’ve had any files added. Another nifty feature, to me, is that Tendenci recognizes who has access to help files within certain topics and your members won’t ever see the Topics label for your internal staff files when they login. Users only see Topics and Files that they have permission to view, and nothing more.

SEO Bonus!

By including your association’s wiki within your Tendenci site by using the Help Files Module, each new page created counts as new content to search engine crawlers! If you foster an online wiki for knowledge sharing and encourage your members to participate and contribute, they’ll help you with your online marketing efforts naturally.

Ten Benefits for You and Your Members!

private staff only internal files
Create a Private Resource Repository using Help Files

Here’s 10 great ways you can take advantage of the cool features included with the Help Files module and boost your association’s online community participation:

  1. Enable members and registered site users to collaborate on your wiki – this saves your staff time and makes your members feel included!
  2. Create an Internal Repository for your staff and/or Board – use Tendenci’s selective permissions to control who has access to each individual help file. Create on boarding guides for new staff members that only your association’s key personnel can see, without effecting public help files.
  3. Setup Help Files and topics based on user groups – group members can view and collaborate on knowledge specific to the group purpose, and as group members change, the history of the group’s knowledge is available on your site.
  4. Post important local community resources – include things like your organization’s emergency preparedness policies, how to take action in the case of a crisis, and information about other local organizations and groups that support your mission.
  5.  Create a place for event participants to add session notes and takeaways – Create a new topic or Group for event attendees and let them add and collaborate on help file notes from the different sessions. After the conference, embed the presenters’ slides and any other rich media (ie videos and photos) inside the help file.
  6. Offer training guides for developing new professional skills –  Use the selective permissions controls to create members-only repositories and share industry reports and valuable training guides with your paying members and contributors- or make them free for anyone who stops by your website, it’s your choice!
  7. Build a globally diverse resource library – Your website is accessible day or night from virtually anywhere in the world, and with modern day web browser translation options, your International supporters can share their global perspectives on your association’s cause related issues.
  8. Provide getting started guides for your community – new members path, how to volunteer vote for board etc
  9. Think collaboration-both inside your org as well as outside -invite other associations and chapters to contribute on the wiki.
  10. Document external resources and company account information – for tools, like software and vendor accounts, where your staff can quickly access to download, read, learn without the hassle of a search or wondering if the links will be active in a year
project management help files example
Get Members and Volunteers Working Together on Special Projects and Events!

Now you’re equipped with a deeper understanding of ways that you can use Tendenci’s Help Files like any other wiki to reach out to your community, manage volunteers, create a repository for resources. Best of all, the Help Files module comes with Tendenci ready to start adding content to “out of the box”. I’ve added a few help files to the Tendenci Demo site, and you can see that it only takes a few minutes to quickly get your Topics and a framework for adding new content to your site’s Help Files module.

10 Minutes to Set-Up

In about 10 minutes, you can set-up access for your staff and members and give them the tools they need to help you keep up with your online and offline resources. And don’t worry if you aren’t sure how to get started because I’ll help you out!

You can leave a comment below, and include your Tendenci website URL, if you’d like to schedule 10 minutes with me through an online web conference where I’ll walk you through the set-up process. Before our 10 minute training, I’ll send you a quick template that will help you identify the main Topics you’ll want to start building your knowledge base. You can also submit a request using our “Request a Help File” – just be sure to leave your contact information as shown in this screenshot:

tendenci help files request