Setting user time zones in Spark

Whenever Spark displays a time, it displays the time for the user's local time zone. That includes volunteer opportunities, shift sign ups, the start and end dates of giving opportunities, etc.

How Spark sets a user’s default time zone

Spark can set a default time zone for users based on information contained in your demographic file.

  • If the demographic file lists the Search Location, Spark uses that to set the user time zone.
    • The search location is 3 fields: Search City, Search Province, Search Country. Spark uses the Search Location if at least one of these fields is populated. If more fields are populated, this improves the accuracy of the time zone coding.
  • If the demographic file does not list the Search Location, but the user’s Contact Details lists the address information, Spark uses that location to set their time zone.
  • If the demographic file does not list the Search Location or the Contact Details, Spark uses the default time zone (set during your program implementation).

Note: Spark sets the default time zone when the user logs in for the first time. If the user changes their time zone from their profile, Spark applies this new time zone and the user file does not override it.


Does user time zone affect tax receipting?

No, tax receipts are always in UTC. That means that donations made just before midnight on Dec. 31 in New York (EST) may be receipted for Jan. 1, if it is Jan. 1 in London (UTC). This is standard for all users. It does not depend on their profile time zone.

What is UTC time?

Coordinated Universal Time or Universal Time Coordinated. This is the standard time common to every place in the world.

If a user changes their time zone on their profile, will all opportunities, sign-ups, etc. update to match their new time zone?


What if a user’s Search Location in the demographic file only includes the country?

For countries that span multiple time zones, a random time zone from that country is automatically chosen. This is why including city, province/state, country is important.

If the search location is set to editable, will it continue to update the user's time zone selection?

Time zone is set based on whatever values are stored on the user account AT TIME OF FIRST LOGIN ONLY. Therefore, the search location information could change a thousand times before the user logs in, and only the most recent one will matter. After the login, the time zone is static and only the user can manually update it via their user profile.

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