Contacts Tab Part I


  • Know how to create new contacts, and understand the function of each fields
  • Understand different types of contacts and how to use them properly
  • Understand the difference between groups and tags and be able to organize contacts with them.

New contacts

When you create a new contact on CiviCRM, it allows you to enter information for the following five different fields: Contact Details, Address, Communication Preference, Notes, Tags and Groups. These fields help you to organize and manage its contacts more efficiently and also are integrated with other CiviCRM features such as CiviMail, so now lets take a closer look at the functions each field serves:

  • Contact Details
    • This field contains the most basic information of a contact: name, email, phone, websites and more. You may add more than one email addresses, phone numbers and websites to one contact, but still set a primary one for contacting purposes. Also, CiviCRM allows you to upload an image for each contact. I personally think this feature is great if your organization work with a lot of volunteers or interns, and need to put a name to the face (or vice versa) in a short period of time. Also, it helps staff to recognize donors and supporters in events. No awkward handshakes and thinking, “snap, I what’s her/his name again?” will happen again!
  • Address
    • Address is a separate field from the above because address can be shared between contacts. For example, the office address of a partner organization can be used for the organization itself as well as its employees. Or, an address can be used by household members that are also contacts of your organization. We will talk more about contact types and how to connect them later in the lesson, but for now, just keep the “shared” concept in mind. Also, if you accept credit card payments, the address field also allows you to store the billing address of the contact.
  • Communication Preference
    • This field keep a record of how the contact want to (“Preferred Methods”) and don’t want to (“Privacy”) be contacted with. For instance, some people (like me) hate phone calls, and are efficient with emails, then their Preferred Methods will probably be emails, with a Do Not Phone privacy setting. This field also integrates with CiviMail. If a contact choose not to receive emails, CiviMail will exclude it from the bulk mailing list and the Send Email function. (CiviMail will be introduced in the near future. If you are slightly confused by what was mentioned, it is okay) Another useful feature in the field is the “Preferred Language”. If your organization works with a multi-lingual or non-English-speaking population, this feature will definitely help maintaining good communication.
  • Notes
    • This field is for you to “record random bits of information about a contact”, as it was stated in the users book. In my personal opinion, this could be used to record what kind of cake your contact likes so you can get the right flavor for her/his birthday. No conversations like “thanks, but I don’t really like chocolate/strawberry/cheesecake” will occur again. All jokes aside, when used properly and with some creativity, this field can be useful and beneficial to your organization.
  • Tags and Groups
    • This field allow you to categorize your contacts with multiple tags and groups. We will dig into Tags and Groups later in this lesson. For now, just note that they are powerful in organizing your contacts when when it comes to mailing or searching.

Individual v.s. Organization v.s. Household

Phew, we just read so much about what information you may record for a new contact, but wait, there is more! When you are creating a new contact, you need to choose from one of the three core contact types: Individual, Organization, or Household. We’ve briefly introduced their distinctions in the last lesson, but please allow me to say more about them.

In the way I see it, Organization and Household contacts are important not because you can add organizations and households to your contact list, but because they show the relationship and interconnectivity between the individual contacts. It’s different from Groups and Tags,because Groups and Tags are categorizations that their members might or might not have actual connection with one another, but Organization and Household contact types are people who work together or have associations with each other. Don’t think about “Organization contacts” as external, actual organizations, but rather a team of people. With that being said, you can create Organization Contacts for the organizations within your organization, and manage them with CiviCRM: add meeting notes as activities, add or remove members, record raised fund as contribution, etc. This concept may be clear in the next section which we talk about contact subtypes.

Contact subtypes and how to create one

Remember when I said in the first lesson that CiviCRM was created for the non-profit sector and can be highly customized? Well, now you’re going to see what I meant by that. CiviCRM allows you to create your own contact types but because the user-defined contact types are based on the three core types, CiviCRM refers to it as contact subtypes. For instance, Individual contacts can have subtypes like Volunteers, Interns, Alumni, Fellows, Pledged Donors… you name it, and one individual contact can be more than one subtypes, for example, someone can be an Alumni and a Pledged Donor. Or, as I sort of mentioned in the previous section, Organization contacts can develop subtypes for internal organizations such as departments, committees or teams, as well as external organizations such as partner or sponsor organizations. These subtypes are to distinguish the major groups of population you work with. You can create custom fields (which will be taught next week) for each contact subtype, which allows you to record certain information. For instance, the Everett Program keeps contact with past students hence will likely to create an individual contact type for alumni with a custom field for their graduation year, college affiliation, major and so on. This really depends on what population you are dealing with and how you want to efficiently manage their information.

  1. Go to Administer> Customize Data and Screens> Contact Types
  2. Click on “Add Contact Type”
  3. Fill out the fields and click “Save”
  4. Voila, a contact subtype is created!
  5. When you go to Contacts>New Organization, it will show the subtype you created
  6. You can now create a group that fits the subtype!

Organize your contacts with Groups and Tags

Groups and Tags are listed under the contact tab. I made a brief comparison between Groups and Tags, and organization contact types, now lets take a closer look at Groups and Tags and how they can help you organizing your contacts!

The major difference between Groups and Tags is that you can grant access control to groups (will come back to this later in the course), and it’s integrated with CiviMail, which means that you can send emails directly to a group or multiple groups, like so:Group1Therefore, you might want to see “Groups” as mailing lists, and organize your contacts with that concept. For instance, create a subscribers group to send newsletters, a members group to send member exclusive news, and a volunteer group to send volunteering opportunities.

On the other hand, Tags are more for contact searching purposes like so:


In the image above, you can see that it is also possible to search with Groups, and you might think “wait, so what’s so special about tags?” Let me explain this with a specific scenario: If today your organization is looking for some volunteers to make posters to promote your event, but you want to make sure the posters look amazing, you can search for contacts in the “Volunteers” group, with a “Art Major” tag, and send an email to contacts with the criteria. Depending on your needs and the population you are working with, you may create tags based on residential location, field of work, career position, etc. Use tags wisely, and it will help you find the right people when you need them!


This homework assignment is gonna be a bit long with minimal instructions, and you will take many screenshots, but I tried to make it less boring, so here we go:

Part 1:Let’s begin by setting up some organizing tools!

  • Create three individual subtypes with proper name and description
    • First one: Name it “Staff”. This subtype is for people who work for and receive payroll from your org.
    • Second one: Name it “Partner”. This subtype is for people who don’t work within your organization but provide professional assistance upon requests or invites. For example, guest lecturers, event DJs, hosts, etc.
    • Third one: be creative, and think of a subtype your partner organization could potentially use. Don’t forget to add a description to it.
    • Take a screenshot of the list of subtypes you created. (Administer>customize Data and Screens>contact types) Name the screenshot: Lastname_subtypes (ex: Yang_subtypes)
  • Create 4 groups with proper name, description and settings
    • First one: Name it: “House leaders”. In the description, put “Leaders of the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms “. Let’s grant this group access control, and make it a mailing list. Also, make it visible to the public pages, and check the “Reserved Group?” box.
    • Second one: Name it: “Event Crew”. In the description, put “The crew is in charge of organizing, managing and recruiting for events of all kinds”. Make it a mailing list, reserved group, and visible to user and user admin only.
    • Third one: Name it: “Newsletter Subscribers”. In the description, put “people who sign up for bi-weekly newsletters.” Make it a mailing list, reserved group, and visible to user and user admin only.
    • Last one: Name it: “Technology committee”. In the description, put “The committee that is in charge of the discussion, update, and maintenance of the organization’s technological components.”  Make it a mailing list, reserved group, and visible to user and user admin only.
    • Go to Contact> Manage groups, and take a screenshot that include the groups you created. Name the screenshot: Lastname_groups (ex: Yang_groups)
  • Create 3 tags with proper name, description and settings
    • First one: Major Donors. This is for the top 10% donors in the annual report. This tag should be used for contacts.
    • Second one: Knights. This is a tag for the great swordsmen of the Seven Kingdoms, and activities that involve them. This tag should be used for contacts and activities
    • Third one: Use your creativity, and create a tag that you think is useful or necessary.
    • Go to Contact> manage tags, and take a screenshot of what you got. Name the screenshot: Lastname_tags (ex: Yang_tags)

Part 2: Let’s create some new contacts!

  • Create household contacts for the following families :
    • Household name: House Stark; Nickname: Starks.
      • Address: 56 Snow Rd., Winterfell, Washington, 98286, USA
      • Communication preference: Do not phone, do not email, prefer postal mail
    • Household name: House Baratheon; Nickname: Baratheons
      • Address: 101 King’s Dr., King’s Landing, D.C, 20506, USA
      • Commu. Pref.: Do not trade, Do not phone, prefer email
    • Household name: House Targaryen; Nickname: Targaryens
      • Address: 1 Dragon Ave., Essos, Hawaii, 96807, USA
      • Commu. Pref.: Do not SMS, Do not email, prefer phone
    • Household name: House Lannister; Nickname: Lannisters
      • Address: 20 Sneaky Rd., King’s Landing, D.C, 20045, USA
      • Commu. Pref.: Do not trade, Do not phone, Do not SMS, prefer email
    • Go to Search> Find Contacts, pick “household” for “is…”, and take a screenshot of the list of households you created. Name the screenshot: Lastname_houses (ex: Yang_houses)
  • Create organization contacts for the following organizations:
    • Name: Night’s Watch Nickname: Crows
      • Address: 1 Crows Rd., Castle Black, Alaska, 99509, USA
      • Email address:
      • Phone Number:0800-483-3899
      • Commu. Pref. : No mail, prefer email
      • Tags: Knights
    • Name: Kingsguard
      • Address: 33 Swordsmen St., King’s Landing, D.C, 22045, USA
      • Email address:
      • Phone Number:0800-138-9898
      • Commu. Pref. : No phone, prefer email
      • Tags: Knights
    • Name: The Small Council
      • Address: 100 King’s Dr., King’s Landing, D.C, 20506, USA
      • Email address:
      • Phone Number:0800-985-8193
      • Commu. Pref. : No phone, prefer email
      • Tags: Major Donor
    • Go to Search> Find Contacts, pick “Organization” for “is…”, and take a screenshot of the list of orgs you created. Name the screenshot: Lastname_orgs (ex: Yang_orgs)

Homework submission:

  • Make sure you have all the following files:
    • Lastname_Subtypes
    • Lastname_Groups
    • Lastname_Tags
    • Lastname_Houses
    • Lastname_Orgs
  • Email them to the homework submission email address: