Contact Names, visible in the Contact page header and everywhere a Contact is displayed, are often used in addressing envelopes or in return address blocks in mailings and receipts. Informal Names are better suited as salutations, wherever you might say "Dear so-and-so," when writing a letter, email, or receipt. For Household Contact records, Virtuous will automatically generate Contact Names and Informal Names, based on the names of the Primary and Secondary Individuals on the record.

If a Secondary Individual is added to a Household that has only a Primary Individual, then the Contact Name will be updated to reflect both Individuals. This is the only time that Contact Names will dynamically update based on changes to Individual data. In other cases, like when you change someone's first name to a nickname, or mark an Individual as deceased, or even re-order Individuals within a Household, the Contact Name will remain set.

When generating Contact Names, Virtuous will use this logic:

Household Contact, only one Individual:

{Primary Individual First Name} {Primary Individual Last Name}

Household Contact, at least two Individuals:

{Primary Individual First Name} and {Secondary Individual First Name} {Primary Individual Last Name}

Household Contact, Primary and Secondary Individuals with Different Last Names:

{Primary Individual First Name} {Primary Individual Last Name} and {SecondaryIndividual First Name} {Secondary Individual Last Name}

Virtuous will also generate Informal Names for Households, using only the First names of the Primary or the Primary and Secondary Individuals.

Creating Custom Rules

Users with Admin permissions can customize the rules used to generate these names. To do this, navigate to the Settings page, select the Data Customization tab near the top of the screen, and then click on "Manage Contact Name Settings."

This will open a form where you can manage system rules and values for three different things: Contact Name Formats, Informal Name Formats, and Default First and Last Name values.

Note: Contact Name and Informal Name formats will ONLY apply to Contacts where the base type is Household.

Contact Name Formats

On the form, you'll see the ability to define your own patterns for three different scenarios:

  • Contacts with only one Individual
  • Contacts with a Primary and Secondary Individual
  • Contacts with a Primary and Secondary Individual with Different Last Names

You can use the "Available Merge Tags" drop-down to select values and insert them into the pattern on the right.

In addition to selecting merge values, you can also type in any text you'd like to include, to include terms like "and," which can be handy when customizing Contacts names for Primary and Secondary Individuals.

These first two options are required in order to set your own rules for name formatting. You may optionally choose to set your own business rules for handling scenarios where the Primary and Secondary Individuals in a Household have different last names.

Once you have created your settings, you will see a checkbox offering the option to apply your new formatting rules to customized Contact names.

This will reformat all of the existing Contact Names in your database , including those where you have manually set the Contact Name value (meaning Virtuous did not create the Contact Name value using the default logic). Checking this box and then saving and applying formats will reformat every Contact Name in your database. Leaving the box unchecked will only reformat names that have been populated by Virtuous.

Informal Name Formats

Informal Names behave a little differently from Contact names, in that they are generally not set on a Contact record. Instead, Virtuous uses logic to generate Informal Names whenever they are needed in reports or exports. (Again, this ONLY applies to Contacts with a type of Household.) So, by creating your own custom rules for formatting Informal Names, these rules will automatically be applied any time Informal Names are generated. You can select from the same menu of merge tags to create Informal Name patterns.

First and Last Name Defaults

In order to create a Contact in Virtuous, the minimum data necessary is a First Name and Last Name. But we know that there are times when you might not have this data at first. For example, when a new organization send you a donation. For new clients, there are likely records that need to be migrated to Virtuous that do not have individual names.

In these situations, and others like them, you'll want to decide on default values for First Name and Last Name. In the initial data migration process, for example, Virtuous automatically assigns "Default Contact" as the value for any name that is not present in Contact data. These values, specifically First Name "Default" and Last Name "Contact," are then excluded when sweeping your database for potential duplicates. This helps to eliminate any false positives caused by replacement values.

Use the First and Last Name Defaults to define custom values for your organization, such as:

First Name: Friend

Last name: of {your organization name}

These values will then be excluded for the duplicate search process.

To customize these names, just enter values in the two default name fields.

Once you have made all of your changes, to Contact Names Formats, Informal names, and Default values, you will see two buttons at the bottom of the form.

Choosing to "Save Formats" will save without updating existing records in your database. Instead, this will apply your new formatting to any new records going forward. Choosing to "Save and Apply Formats" will update all existing records in your database. If you have checked the box to "Apply to Customized Names" then all names will be affected. You will receive an email once the reformatting process is complete. Please do not re-submit or change the formatting rules until the update is complete.

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