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IGO Help and Information

Beacon for Group Leaders

Is all you need for successfully manage your group's membership and send GDPR compatible emails. Here is the table of content of this document:

For more help, please read the Beacon User Guide or access the Beacon Help Centre. 


Logging in

 To the administration part of Beacon:

Group leaders Beacon Guide 01 A

In the u3a field select 'Interest Groups Online' . Then use your group leader's 'username' and 'password'. And finally, press 'Enter'.

If you have forgotten your password, use 'Click here' to reset your password.


After logging in

The new page offers you a number of group management options:

Group leaders Beacon Guide 02 A

The other options are:

  • Calendar: displays on a new page the calendar of all IGO meetings
  • E-mail delivery: shows the status of your recently sent emails.

Groups: Group details and emails to members

The first step is to select your group from the list of groups:

Group leaders Beacon Guide 13

Scroll down the alphabetical list until you find your group and click on it. The Group Details page appears, which allows you to edit the group details:

Group leaders Beacon Guide 03

You can change any the fields here, including your group name. But you should not untick any of the blue boxes ('Allow members to join on-line', 'Enable waiting list' and 'Notify Leader of changes').

In addition, you have the following options:


List of Members

When you click 'Members' (third from the left), you will see a list of all the members in your group.Group leaders Beacon Guide 04

Here you should manage the members of your group. You can manually add a member to your group by selecting their name from the 'Add member by name' drop down list, or entering their membership number in the 'Add member by membership number' field.


Sending an email to members 

To email group members, select them all by clicking all boxes on the left of 'member number'. Ensure the box at the bottom says 'send email' (box B) and then click 'Do with selected' (box A). 

Group leaders Beacon Guide 05

You can restrict the list of members by checking of unchecking the 'Joined members' or 'Waiting list' boxes.

Group leaders Beacon Guide 05 A

Then you will see the next page where you can write your email. The features of this interface are described below from the top left corner:

Sending emails 1

  • 'From'. This should be your email address. If more than one is listed, please select the correct one.
  • 'To', the list of addressees. It should contain the list you selected earlier
  • Check the 'Tick to receive a copy' check box if you wish to receive a copy of this e-mail.
  • 'Load standard message' is explained below.
  • If you wish to add attachments to your email, click 'Choose Files'. The total size of files you attach should not exceed 20 MB.
  • Remember to include a clear Subject. This helps to identify your email in the recipient's Inbox.
  • The white field below allows you to write and format your email. The top line ('Edit', 'Insert', 'Format', and 'Table') offers you some useful features. Click on them to learn what they do, they are self-explanatory. 
  • Currently (correct on 24 January 2024) the 'Insert > Image' feature works for images of size up to 200 kB. If you wish to include a larger image, attach its file with your email.
  • Underneath are 13 mostly formatting icons. The 'Text' drop-down menu allows you to select headings of various sizes. 
  • To put a link in your email use the 'link icon'. It is the ninth icon. It opens the 'Insert/Edit Link window' dialogue box:

Beacon for GL insert edit link

Its options are:

  • In the 'URL' you enter the full website URL (including the http or https prefix).
  • You may leave 'Text to display' empty or write there a short meaningful description of the link if the URL is too long.
  • 'Open link in...' has two options: either it opens the link in the 'Current window' or in a 'New window'.
  • The 'Link List' allows you to select from a list of Beacon links, such as 'Groups' or 'Calendar'. When you are done, click 'Save'.

You can personalise your email by clicking on any of the tokens in the right column. For example, ‘Dear #FORENAME’ will ensure that each email is addressed directly to each recipient, despite being sent to multiple members. You can achieve this, for example, by typing 'Dear ' (with a space at the end) and then clicking on the '#FORENAME' blue button. You may use '#FAM' to address the recipient in a more familiar way.  If the member did not specify his/her familiar name, '#FAM' will default to the '#FORENAME'.

Finally, when you are finished and are happy with your email, press the 'Send' button at the bottom.


Facts about sending an email from Beacon

  • Beacon sends your email to group members in a GDPR compliant way. (That is bcc, or one member does not see the email address of any other member.)
  • As Beacon does not store sent emails, it is advisable that you click on the Tick to receive copy check box before pressing the Send button.
  • It is advisable to personalize the email by using, for example 'Dear #FAM'. When an Internet Service Provider sees a large number of identical emails (for example, 'Dear Member') its antispam software may categorize these emails as spam. 
  • The total size of files you attach with your email should not exceed 20 MB. Be aware that some email providers impose a lower limit on receiving emails. 
  • Note that your Beacon session will time out after a certain time of inactivity. If you have an unsent email, it will be lost. You can set session timeout in the Personal Preferences. The default is 20 minutes. 

Standard messages and Message templates

You as a group leader can create standard messages for your group which you can save and re-use as required.

First select the people you want to contact.  Write your email and then click on 'Save as standard message'.  Sending emails 2 A

You will be asked to provide a name for the message.  Please use the following format:

Your initials – group name – message name

Standard Message Info 02

To use the standard message again, select the people you want to email, and then click on 'Load standard message':

Sending emails 3 A

All the standard messages will appear and you can select your own message:

Standard Message Info 04

You can edit the message and re-save it if required.  You cannot delete messages – if you want to have it removed, you should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Adding a new member to your group

Normally, members will join your group themselves via the Members Beacon Portal. However, you can add a member by selecting his/her name from the 'Add member by name' drop down list or entering his/her membership number in the 'Add member by membership number'.


New members and waiting lists

When a new member joins your group, they are put on the waiting list and do not receive any notification from Beacon. You – as the group leader – will receive the following email from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.:

  • If the group has vacancies, you get this message: 

XXXX  has joined the waiting list for the group YYYY Group
Places are currently available so check the list of Members for YYYY Group
 

In this case add the member to your group by clicking 'Join group' and send the member a welcome email.  

  • If the group is full, you get this message: 

XXXX has joined the waiting list for the group YYYY Group 

When the number of members in the group equals the maximum number allowed, Beacon decides the group is full, but it does not inform you that this is the case. 

When the number of members in a group drops below the maximum number, Beacon does not automatically fill up the group with members on the waiting list.

It is, therefore important that you regularly monitor your group membership to ensure that when there is a vacancy, you move a member from the waiting list to the group. This should be done on a first-come first-served basis. Click on 'Join group' to add this member to your group. And do not forget to notify this member that they are now an active member of the group.  

Group leaders Beacon Guide 07

Beacon notifies you when someone leaves your group.

Please make sure that the membership of your group is kept uptodate! 


Members on the list who are not attending meetings

If a member does not attend meetings for three months, they should be asked if they want to continue to be in the group, and advised that if they do not reply, they will be removed.  If they say they want to continue, but do not attend for the next three months, they will be removed anyway.  There may be extenuating circumstances such as illness which should be addressed on a case by case basis, with appropriate discretion advised.


Schedule: Creating group events

You should use the 'Schedule', to the left of 'Members' to add information about future meetings. You will get a screen showing no upcoming events if you have not added any events.

Group leaders Beacon Guide 08

You can add an individual event by selecting the date. Leave 'Number of events' as 1.

Group leaders Beacon Guide 09

Click 'Add Events' to save your meetings.

When someone selects 'Calendar' in the Beacon Members Portal, they will see information about upcoming meetings for individual groups.

Group leaders Beacon Guide 10

You can add a series of events that occur at regular intervals, such as every week, every two weeks, 1st Monday etc, and then choose the appropriate interval.

Group leaders Beacon Guide 11

When you click 'Add Events', you will see your events listed above.

Group leaders Beacon Guide 12

If the events occur at irregular times, then they should be added individually.

Events will disappear from the calendar when the date is past.

If you have any questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Personal Preferences

Group leaders Beacon Guide 22

 This page allows you to set your personal preferences when working with Beacon as a group leader.


Cookies and Help

Clicking on the black triangle at the left bottom corner of the U3A Administration home screen,

Beacon for GL black triangle

opens the 'Cookie Control' box. You may find it useful to click on the 'I accept optional cookies': This will retain certain Beacon preferences between vistits. 

Beacon for GL optional cookies

Clicking on the 'Help' button invokes Beacon Help. In the top edit windot you can type your question, for example:

Beacon for GL help

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