I'm trying to understand the best way to record that a contact is the primary contact amongst the many related employees of an organisation. Does Civi have an in-built way of handling this?

Option 1 for me was to setup a tag called Primary Contact and provide this tag to the Primary Contact.

Option 2 was to create a custom field with Primary Contact (Yes/No).

Option 3 was to setup a new relationship "Primary contact of".

Which option would be the best to maintain? Any other thoughts?

3 Answers 3


Option 3 is the clear winner, because neither option 1 nor option 2 have a clear way of indicating which organization they're the primary contact of. As soon as someone is affiliated with two organizations, that means trouble.

The unfortunate part of this is that you can't assign a profile via a relationship. You can do so via Webform-CiviCRM, or via Caldera Forms CiviCRM, and when afform comes out, you'll be able to use that. However, since you also can't create two contacts in one profile, that doesn't generally cause issues.

  • 1
    +1. Relationship is how I've done the same thing elsewhere.
    – Demerit
    Jan 21, 2020 at 8:25

In case you only want to allow one primary contact at maximum you can go for a contact reference field within the organisation. The drawback would be, that you will not be able the view that information coming from the side of the employee.


We created a new Contact Type based on the Individual called Main Contact. The person icon is a slightly different color, so you can tell on a glance who is and who isn't a Main contact. We also have customized some reports to pull only that type.

Another thing we've done (but may not work in your case) is that the Main Contact is typically the only person who has permission to edit the Company, so they have the asterisk denoting a permissioned relationship.

Edited to add - Options 1 & 2 would probably work for us, but Option 3 would not - memberships are company-based and bestowed by the organization as a result of being "Employee of," so without that the individual wouldn't show up as a member, and many of our site features (and event discounts) are tied to membership.

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