Searching in Spark FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about searching in Spark. If your question or curiosity is not answered below, contact the Client Technical Support team and we will get you sorted!

In this article:


How is my default location set?

Spark can set a default location for users based on the information in the demographic file from your HR system (city, province/state, country). If a search location is not specified, but address information is used to populate a user's contact details, search will use that address information to set the location. If neither are specified, search will use your site's instance country for a default location.

How can I change my search location?

You can change your search location by using the location filters on the browse or search results page. You can also set your default search location manually from your profile under Settings.

Filters and display

How do the filters work?

When you perform a search, you'll sometimes receive results that are associated with specific skills, interests and characteristic tags. If one or more tags are returned, the filter button will appear and you can use it to narrow down your search. If no skills, interests or characteristics are returned for a given search, the filter button will not appear.

What are ongoing opportunities?

Ongoing opportunities do not have an end date. These opportunities are typically long-term, relationship-based opportunities such as volunteering for a year to help design and develop a causes website.

What are remote or virtual opportunities?

Remote and virtual opportunities are created with no location set. These opportunities are typically online, such as improving a causes mapping service by adding location data to it. To be considered as having a location, volunteer opportunity creators must set and confirm a valid location on the volunteer opportunity creation form.

Date and time

How can I find past volunteer opportunities?

Past results appear in the search results the same as future events, but if they ended a long time (in a galaxy far far away), they may be pushed lower in the relevancy rankings. If you've signed up for these events already and are looking to track time, you may be able to find them from the “Volunteering” section of your profile.

How does date filtering work?

You can apply a start and end date filter from the landing or results page. You can choose the start date on the first calendar and the end date on the second calendar, or type in the range with your keyboard. When a date filter is applied, only volunteer opportunities with one or more shift start dates within the selected range will be returned.

Terms and results

What search terms can be used?

You can search with most terms and the site will return results which contain a match within the volunteer opportunity title, description, cause name, skills, interests or characteristics tags. Most special characters will not be included in the search term, with the exception of the hashtag (#) as it can be used as a flexible hashtag system to organize content.

Can I use hashtags?

Yes, you can use hashtags (#) before words to organize content.

How are the default set of search results determined?

The results included on the volunteering search landing page are populated as though you've just made a search without a keyword term within that volunteer opportunity type (events, ongoing, or remote). They are ordered based on the same algorithm as the results page, and this algorithm takes into account your search location.

How are my search results ranked?

Your search results are ranked based on a relevancy algorithm. Results which are close to your search location and with start dates in the reasonably-near future will tend to appear at the top. Results which are more distant in time and space will tend to appear further down.

I just created a volunteer opportunity and I can't find it in search results. Why?

When you create a new volunteer opportunity, there is a maximum 15-minute period before the next round of indexing makes it searchable. These opportunities can still be found via direct link.

How soon will new content show up in search (e.g. adding or editing an opportunity)?

On average, it takes 5-10 minutes before users can see the new content/changes in search. 


What sorts of content does the cause search pull when doing a search?

  • Cause name
  • Cause project name
  • Location (city, province/state, country
  • Cause ID
  • Government number
  • Cause description and caption
  • Cause tags, categories and subcategories
  • Contact into (website, Twitter, Facebook, RSS)
  • Aliases (entered by Benevity teams)

Can I search for a cause using their government ID or charity number?

Yes. This is the most exact way to find an organization because no two organizations will ever have the same government ID number. Searching by this number is a good trick for those hard to find causes.

You can often find the number located on the cause’s website, usually in the About Us page. It’s also listed on donation receipts. See below for more information on registration numbers by country.

  • United States: 9-digit identification number called an EIN (Employer Identification Number) issued by the IRS. Some U.S. charities may be chapters of larger parent organizations, and may use that parent's charity status and EIN.
  • Canada: Business number issued by the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency). It will look something like 123456789RR0001.
  • United Kingdom: Registration number between 4 and 7 digits.
  • Ireland: CHY reference number between 3 and 6 digits.
  • Australia: 11-digit ABN (Australian Business Number).

How can I narrow down my search for a cause?

Sometimes a search may return multiple results. You can apply filters on the search results page to narrow your results.

  1. Enter the cause name or a keyword in search.
  2. When the results appear, select the Filters button located directly below the search bar.
  3. Choose a different country, state/province or category/subcategory (category filters are common fields of work, like animal rights or environment).
  4. Select Apply.
  5. To remove the filters, select Clear filters located beside the Filters button.


Why are there so many organizations with the similar name?

Some causes may appear multiple times in the search results. These additional results may be for regional chapters of a larger organization, or they may be for projects created by that cause. A “project” is a dedicated fundraising appeal for something specific that cause is doing.

How do I change my search location for a cause?

  1. Enter the cause name or a keyword in search.
  2. When the results appear, select the Near [your location] button located below the search bar. The location defaults to your home location.
  3. Enter a different city or a specific address to find the cause.
  4. Select Search. The recommended locations will appear.
  5. Choose to search with that new location this one time, or select the checkbox to set it as your default location.

Will eligible and ineligible causes display in search?

Yes. By default, both eligible and ineligible causes will display. As a program leader, you can edit the settings to show all causes or only those causes eligible in your program. To learn more, go to the Manage page in Spark, located in the top-right corner. Then navigate to Site Settings > Cause Search Settings.


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