Managing nonprofit contacts


I built a base from the nonprofit donations template, which has a table for contacts, one for companies, one for designations and one for donations. One challenge that we continue to have is how to effectively manage the contacts table, particularly for companies. Since the companies table doesn’t have any address/contact info for companies, we keep adding records to the contacts table for companies. These usually don’t have individual people associated with them, which results in somewhat of a forced fit to add both people and companies in the same table.

A related challenge is differentiating individuals or families. Some of our contacts donate in kind contributions as individuals and also make monetary contributions as families. I’m trying to figure out how to manage individuals, families and companies within the master contacts list without duplication for mailings, etc.

Any advice or insight would be appreciated!


Why you don’t add the needed fields?

About the families thing, some ideas:

  • You can add them to the Contactos table (seems more similar to me than companies), and add a “Type” field to separate Person and Family (or a Checkbox field called Family), even renaming the table to something like “People”.
  • Just do the opposite, treat Families as Companies (maybe called Groups?), having a Contact for that group. You could have Address in both tables, only in one (showing it in the other table with a Lookup Field), and so on


It depends on what problems you’re facing with commingling contact names and contact-less companies in the same table. If you’re having a mail-merge issue and don’t want to send out a letter beginning “Dear Soulless MegaCorp,” that can be tweaked by creating a slightly ‘cooked’ field to use in mailmerge, and you can follow the first approach I define below. If there are other issues, perhaps the second approach will work. If neither do, there are plenty of ways to skin this cat. (Note to non-U.S. readers: It’s an idiom.)

My first inclination¹ would be simply to

  1. Rename the primary field in [Contacts] to {NameOrCompany}.
  2. When entering a contact-less company, begin by entering the company name in the primary field. Continue to populate the record as usual with the mailing address (if known) and other information.
  3. Once the record is complete, select the {NameOrCompany} field. Press Ctrl-C to copy the value.
  4. Select the {Associated Companies} field for the record.
  5. Press Ctrl-V to past the value into the cell. Airtable will automatically create a corresponding linked record in the [Companies] table.
  6. Should you later be given a contact at the company, you can edit the record to reflect his or her name.
  7. To avoid duplication of the company name in any mailings, you can create a field/modify your algorithm, depending on which is applicable, to test whether {NameOrCompany} = {Associated Companies}. If so, skip to the address; if not, add {Associated Companies} to the mailing label and continue wth the address.

Alternatively, you could try this different approach. Make the following changes to the [Contacts] table:

  1. Right-click on the primary field ({Name}) and select ‘Duplicate field.’ Make sure ‘Duplicate cells’ is toggled on. Select the blue 'Duplicate field' button to perform the duplication.
  2. Right-click on the primary field again and select ‘Customize field type.’ Change the type from single-line text to formula.
  3. Configure this formula:
    {Name copy},
    {Name copy},
        {Associated Companies},
        {Associated Companies}
  1. Right-click on {Name copy}. Change the field name to {Name}.
  2. The mailmerge modification remains the same as for the first scenario.

Now, on entering a contactless company, you’ll enter the address (if any) and other data in the [Contact] record, leaving {Name} blank. Once you are done, select the plus sign in {Associated Companies} to link records and then select '+ Add new record'. Enter the company name in the expanded record.

Both approaches do little but to smooth slightly the process you are already following. However, you are probably best to keep contact and company info in the same table as this allows you to later add contact info and address, when applicable, without losing or having to duplicate data referring to the company’s earlier, pre-contact donations.

  1. Actually, my true preference would be for a somewhat different model, one that would keep contact names separately from addresses separately from company names and info. However, it is just that: A preference. I’m more comfortable working within that model; it has nothing to do with whether one or the other (or the other other :wink: ) is a superior design.