Handling Spouses in CRM

We’ve built out an epic donor CRM base with the help of a developer, but we’re struggling to figure out the best way to approach spouses and families. Sometimes a person donates as an individual, and sometimes they donate as a married couple. I think it’s just what they think about doing that day, there is no other significance. We also want to track who a donor’s spouse is so that we can improve our relationships with the couple/family. My question is how to best handle the relationship to avoid double-sending information, honor individual relationships when necessary, and make the automation process when a new donation hits to go to the appropriate person or couple. These are my ideas, anyone have guidance on how to best approach between these ideas, or have a better one?

  • Option 1 - Any time spouses give together, we split them up manually so there are two people, instead of 1, connect them as spouses, and mark the second spouse in the spouse as the Spouse/Secondary record so that we defer to the primary in most communications. Each spouse will have their individual information listed, but the family name column connected to both spouses will be the combined husband/wife name so that when we send communications we address them as a family. (this may make automatically connecting donations to the people in our table a problem because it may not ever perfectly match their giving name).
  • Option 2 - We don’t change any records based on how they donate, but we connect spouses when we have the information. This will mean some records will be combined records, some will be separate, even in cases where the spouse sometimes contributes alone and sometimes together. We can denote combined or individual in a column manually so that we can adjust views when necessary, and we can link spouses to combined records. This seems the most straighforward, but it’s not consistent, which concerns me.
  • Option 3 - When we realize there is a spousal relationship, we create 3 records: Combined spouses, and 2 singular. The combined is our lead record, and the individual records are linked to each other as spouses, but also linked to the combined record as a linked record. I think if we can set up an automation/rollup that totals gifts from both spouses appear into the combined record, and that we typically hide the individual records, but have their info in case we need to get in touch with one person, then this is the most clear and consistent approach. The problem here is that it increases the number of records we will be using in our base.

Would love some help thinking through this especially if you have a CRM and have been approaching it a certain way that you really liked! Thank you!

Hi @Marketing_Team - I would recommend option 1 where joint donors are separated and you can track them as individuals. But, to keep track of the fact that they are related I would have a linked column from the table to itself - like this:

What you can also do if you have access to Airtable automations is “complete the circle” so that when you link Jenny to Jim, the link reciprocal link is automatically made:

There might be some work to do on the donations, depending upon how you choose to handle this - single person donations are fine, but for a joint donation, do you attribute this to one spouse and not the other or tag each with half of the donation?

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Thank you for such a thoughtful response! We have all of that set-up, thankfully! There are a few cases where we didn’t split up couples because they are always interacting together, but I imagine we’ll still go through the process to split them up soon.

And yes, you’re exactly right about what that means for donation automation. I’d prefer the former option, always attributing it to the lead spouse (and therefore always have a lead spouse). I’m checking with our developer to see if there is a ay to ensure if the donation matches their spousal name, or one of the spouse names, or the name a previous donation was made under that is attached to their record, it always goes to the lead spouse, but I’m not sure if that’s possible!

Thank you, again! If you spot any examples that you think do this well, please let me know!

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