I am working for a non-profit and we are coming from a database that has couples as a single contact. To me, this makes sense because very often when things like donations come in, they come from the couple. In the rare instances that they don't there can be exceptions made. This also makes sense to me from a contact perspective because it allows for simple recording of contact data and simple creation of mailing lists.

As such, is there any way in CiviCRM to modify the data structure add a spouse field and spouse surname field to the Individual contact type?

As a further note, it would be great if this were searchable as part of the name in basic search.

  • I am facing the same problem and would be interested in hearing what you ended up doing as a solution. – chrisfs Apr 26 '17 at 18:05

It would be better to create a relationship between the two - the Partner relationship type is there out of the box.

This will take account of each partner having different email addresses and different mailing preferences. Even different addresses.

You mailing list can be created from an Advanced Search for the Partner relationship with no difficulty.

All this allows you to segment your contacts more usefully.

This approach also negates the problem you add about searching on name.

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  • 1
    I understand relationship types, households as well as advanced searches. However, in most situations the data that I acquire makes more sense to use a single contact record for the couple. i.e. often cheques come from both individuals: Bob Smith & Kate Smith. I would rather not have to do a donor data search to see if there are contributions and then have to do a second search to verify if there is a partner. I would rather have to create a separate record and use the relationship item when necessary than always having two contacts because the situation you describe is rare. – John Heikoop Nov 23 '15 at 17:49
  • One other note, this would also hugely increase the number of contacts that we have which would create an inaccurate picture of how many different 'entities' if you will that we have contact with. i.e. I would rather not have someone accidentally contacting the spouse of a donor and asking for donations when we receive cheques from the couple all the time. – John Heikoop Nov 23 '15 at 17:52

If you don't want to associate the contribution with an individual, you can attribute contributions to Household records.

You'd still have to create individual records for each person, and add a relationship between them and the household. Because you can give relationships an end date, the information will remain in the system even if the individual's circumstances change - whereas if someone gets divorced, you'd have to remove the 'spouse' data, and the relationship would no longer appear.

The relationship would also remain in the system if you use the Partner' relationship, but using the Household means you can record the contribution without having to know who was specifically responsible for the contribution (e.g. if it was from a joint account).

Each record (individuals and household) would appear in the search, but I don't think the basic search listing indicates the relationship.

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  • I don't want to attribute the donations to a household because that has one main problem. If there is a child who also contributes I would like the child as contributer a and the couple as contributor b both connected with the same household so their aren't duplicate mailouts. – John Heikoop Nov 23 '15 at 17:44
  • You'd still be able to associate contributions with each of the individual household members, and set up a mailing group that goes out to contributors rather than all individuals. Alternatively, you could set up a new contact type for couples based on the household type. – liblogger Nov 24 '15 at 11:17
  • (I mean, technically you can just add spouse details as custom fields for the individual contact type, but it will get overwritten if it changes, and won't be included in the basic search. The advanced or the full text search would pick it up.) – liblogger Nov 24 '15 at 11:22

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