What Type of Field Should I Create For My Application Form?

Choosing between Custom Fields, Qualifications and General Interests

If you are wondering what type of field to create for your application form (Custom Field, Qualification, General Interest), here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I need to be able to enter specific text into the field? –> Custom Field
  • Do I need to make a value mandatory (required) when new volunteers fill in an application? –> Custom Field or Qualification
  • Do I need this field to be a prerequisite or essential skill for performing an Activity? –> Qualification
  • Do I need this field to determine whether or not an Activity is visible to a volunteer? –> Qualification
  • Does this skill or certification have an expiration date associated with it? –> Qualification
  • Is this something that I want to display as a series of checkboxes to prospective volunteers so that they can indicate their general areas of interest? –> General Interest

The following table should also help you in deciding whether or not to create a Custom Field, Qualification or General Interest.

AttributeCustom FieldQualificationGeneral Interest
Data input permitted?Yes (for Short Text, Long Text, Number and Date fields)No. Can only select from a list of values created.No. Checkbox only.
Data selection permitted?Yes (for Yes/No, Droplist and Checkbox fields)Yes (via droplist)Yes (via checkbox)
Data upload permitted?Yes (for File fields)NoNo
Data entry can have an expiration date?NoOptionalNo
Visible on application form?Optional (can specify on which application forms it will appear)Optional (can specify on which application forms it will appear)Optional (can specify if all interests will appear on all application forms)
Required on application form?OptionalOptionalNo
Ranked list of choices?Alphabetical order (for Droplist fields)OptionalNo
Hidden from volunteers?OptionalOptionalOptional
Read-only to volunteers?OptionalOptionalNo
Approval required for data entry/updates?OptionalOptionalNo
Can be grouped into categories?OptionalNoNo


Remember that you can see what your application form would look like to your applicant volunteers by going to: Configuration >> Organization Settings >> Application Form Settings. Click on the [Interactive Sample Form] button for any of your application forms to see the preview. As you browse through each part of the application form preview, note that any data you enter is not saved.

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