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How to Use the Planner

The Planner is a tool for helping someone else with his or her family history. Use it to view the FamilySearch Family Tree from the other person’s point of view, browse discovery activities, design personalized family history experiences, record notes, and build lesson plans.  

To access the Planner, first go to Helper Resources:

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Once there, you will see the Planner on the right side of the screen along with a list of people you are helping and an option for adding more:

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Notice that your own name, at the top of the Planner, is hyperlinked. You can enter the Planner for yourself, and try things out.  Trying it out is a great way to get to know the Planner better and learn how it works.

Below your name you see a list of the people you are currently helping. The list has been organized into 3 categories:

  • People who have accepted your helper invitation. Click the person’s name to begin helping.
  • People you have invited but are still waiting to hear from. If you click the person’s name, you will see a message that says, “Waiting for Permission.”
  • People whose names have expired from your list.

Your people list can accommodate up to 300 names at any given time. After that, you’ll need to delete a name—or wait for a name to expire—before adding someone new.

Add Someone to the Planner

To add someone to the Planner, make sure that he or she has a FamilySearch account. Otherwise, you can’t send that person an invitation. A simple phone call or email should do. (Here’s the page for creating an account, in case they need it.)

Once a person has an account, you’ll need to advise the person to go to his or her account settings on and turn on the option for “receiving and offering help.” This option is on the Settings page under the tab labeled NOTIFICATIONS. This option is important—if NOTIFICATIONS isn’t turned on, people can’t receive your message. 

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Now for the invitation. From the Planner’s main page, click the button labeled Add Someone:

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When the box appears, begin typing the person’s name. Possible matches from your ward or branch will appear. When you see the person you’re trying to add, click his or her name.

Tip: If the name does not appear, check to see that you spelled the name correctly. It could also be that you entered too much information. If the person’s first name is “Jim Bob,” for example, try searching with only “Jim” instead of both names.  

Next, select your method for gaining helper access. You can either send the person an email, or choose one of the Helper Number Options. Either way is fine, though following the prompts to send an email is probably easiest.

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If you choose one of the Helper Number Options, you will need the person’s birth date or FamilySearch username, followed by his or her helper number.

Tip: Most people don’t know their helper number. They can find it on the Settings page, under the tab labeled Account.

Begin Helping

Once the person accepts your invitation, you can click his or her name and begin using the Planner on the person’s behalf. You’ll know you’ve entered the Planner for someone else because you’ll see a banner at the top of the page with that person’s name in it. If you don’t see the person’s name, then the information in the Planner is for you.

Below the banner is the navigation panel for moving around. Each link is important and can make you a more effective helper.

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As you can see, the first link, Discovery Ideas, is divided into three categories: Family History Activities, Hints, and Temple. If the person you are helping is not a member of the Church, only the first two categories will show.

Activitiesare short, simple, and fun—great for families with children and for people who might have only a few minutes to experience something meaningful about their family history. Hints point to opportunities in Family Tree where a person might be able to add a source or identify a missing ancestor. The third option, Temple, identifies people in the person’s tree in need of temple ordinances.

As you explore these options, look for tasks or activities that you think will interest the other person. Listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Depending on the person, some activities will definitely be more effective than others.  

The remaining items in the navigational panel are fairly self-explanatory. Tree takes you to an expanded 7-generation view of the other person’s family tree—a view that can be filtered in a number of ways. You can filter, for example, to see which ancestors have photos or stories attached to their profile pages, which are in need of temple ordinances, or which have promising research suggestions for the budding genealogist to take advantage of. Or you can use the tree simply to look for those areas in the tree where ancestors’ names are missing.

Once you’ve identified an activity that you think the other person will enjoy, you can use the Notes and Plans buttons to begin planning your visit. Your work will be saved and available to you each time you access the Planner on behalf of this same person.

Renewing Access and Deleting Names

The names of people you are helping appear on your helper list for one year. Expired names remain for an additional year after that, along with a button for renewing your helper access if you want to continue helping.

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To renew your helper access or to remove a name from your list, click the three dots to the right of the name. You will then see options for completing either task.

If what you’ve just read seems like a lot and perhaps difficult to remember—don’t worry, with a little practice it will become easier! The Planner is an extraordinary tool. It offers dozens of ways to browse someone else’s family history and create family history experiences. As mentioned earlier, the best way to get to know the Planner might be to enter it for yourself—before you’ve sent out any invitations.

Just go to Helper Resources, click your name, and you’re on your way.

Source: Family Search

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