CiviCRM Groups & Tags

Groups & Tags

Groups and Tags are two of the primary ways to organize your data. To decide what to use, you need to understand the difference. In simple terms, a group is a collection of contacts, a set: donors who have contributed $10K or higher. A tag is more a type of contact: a company, a pet owner, a volunteer.

There are also functional differences. For example, only groups can be used for mass mailings and have access control (XYZ group is made available to an admin assistant); only tags can be assigned to contact, activities and/or cases. Both groups and tags can be nested (plumber and carpenter are both children of the contractor)and cross all contact types (as opposed to custom data that can only be applied to a single contact type).

The more you examine your data and what CiviCRM offers for controlling that data, the more you can make informed decisions about which feature to use.

For more information on whether to use groups or tags see http://en.flossmanuals.net/CiviCRM/GroupsAndTags.

Working with Groups

There are two types of groups in CiviCRM: group and smart group. A group is a collection of contacts that is available for mass mailings and access control; a smart group is a collection of contacts that is created via a saved search (i.e., all donors in zip code 98502).

Smart groups "remember" the criteria for the group. As new contacts are added that fit the criteria, they are automatically added to the smart group. In addition, smart groups are available for mass mailings, but are not available for access control.

These differences will help you to determine which type of group you will be creating.

Create a Group

To create a regular group and add contacts to the group:

  1. From the Admin menu, navigate Contacts → New Group.
    New Group
  2. Enter a Name for the group.
  3. Enter a Description.
  4. Check Access Control if you want to use this group to assign access permissions to a set of contacts.
  5. Check Mailing List if you are using this group as a mailing list in the CiviMail component. A group can be used for both access control and as a mailing list.
  6. Select the appropriate visibility from the Visibility drop-down. Select User and User Admin Only if joining this group is controlled by authorized CiviCRM users only. If you want to allow contacts to join and remove themselves from this group via the Registration and Account Profile forms, select Public Pages.
  7. Select a parent group from the Add Parent drop-down, if applicable.
  8. Click the Continue button.
  9. Enter the Name or Email for the first contact you want to add to the group, and/or select the appropriate contact type, group or tag.
  10. Check the checkbox for the record(s) you want to add to the new group. If you want to select all the records, click the All 'X' records radio button.
  11. Click the Add Contacts to 'yournewgroupname' button.
  12. Click the Add to Group button.
  13. Click the Done button.

Since this process has a number of redundant steps, you may want to add contacts to a group via the contact record or through the Search results.

Add Contacts to a Group via the Contact Record

Add to Group

  1. Navigate to the contact record for the contact you wish to add to the group.
  2. Click the Groups tab.
  3. Select the group from the Add to a group field.
  4. Click the Add button to add the contact to the group.

Add Contacts to a Group via Search Results

Add to Group

  1. Search for the contact(s) you wish to add to the group.
  2. Check the checkbox for the record(s) you want to add to the new group. If you want to select all the records, click the All 'X' records radio button.
  3. Select Add Contacts to group from the Actions drop-down.
  4. Click the Add button to add the contact to the group.
  5. Select the group from the Select group drop-down.
  6. Click the Add to Group button.
  7. Click the Done button.

Create a Smart Group

Smart groups are memorized searches. When a new contact is added to the database whose record matches the criteria for the search--Viola!--that contact is automatically added to the group. Likewise, when a contact's criteria changes, they are automatically removed from the group. For example, if you have a smart group based on zip codes, when a contact matching that zip code is added, they are automatically added to the group. If they move and their zip code changes, they are automatically removed from the group.

To create a new Smart Group:

  1. Navigate Search -> Advanced Search.
  2. Enter criteria for finding the contact(s). For example, to find all organizations in zip code 98502: 
    1. Select Organization from the Contact Type(s) dropdown.
    2. Expand the Address field set.
    3. Enter 98502 in the Zip / Postal Code field.
    4. Click the Search button.
  3. Click the All 'X' records radio button. (You must select all the records when creating a smart group.)
  4. Select New Smart Group from the Actions drop-down.
  5. Click the Go button.
  6. Enter a Name and Description (if applicable) for the Smart Group.
  7. Check the Mailing List checkbox if you want to be able to send mass mailings to this group.
  8. Click the Save Smart Group button.
  9. Click the Done button.

Manage Groups

To edit the settings for, or disable a group:

  1. Navigate Contacts → Manage Groups.
  2. To find the group whose settings you wish to change:
    1. Use the search features at the top of the Manage Groups page, or
    2. Click the corresponding letter to filter by the first letter of your group, or
    3. Click the group column headings to resort by ID, Description, Group Type or Visibility.
  3. To change the settings, click the Settings link.
  4. Edit the settings.
  5. Click the Save button to save the changes.
  6. To disable a group, click the more link on the right-hand side of the group row.
  7. Select Disable.
  8. Click the OK button to complete the action.

IMPORTANT!

GingerFeet STRONGLY recommends that you DO NOT delete items in your database, but disable them. If you delete a group, you do not delete the contacts, but you delete the history that contacts were a part of this group at one time.


Working with Tags

Tags in CiviCRM are uesed for high level categorization of your contacts. Tags cross ALL CONTACT TYPES (and can be assigned to activities and cases) as opposed to custom data which can only be assigned to a single contact type.

Create a Tag

  1. From the Admin menu, navigate Contacts → New Tag.
    New Tag
  2. Enter a Name for the group.
  3. Enter a Description for the tag to assist users in understanding what they will be using the tag for.
  4. If applicable, select a parent tag from the Parent Tag drop-down.
  5. Select which type of record(s) this tag is used for in the Used For field. To select multiple options, hold down the Ctrl key on a PC and the Cmd key on a MAC.
  6. To reserve a tag so that it cannot be deleted by a user that does not have 'administer reserved tags' permission in Drupal, check the Reserved? checkbox.
  7. Click the Save button to save the tag.

Manage Tags

Tags are unique in that you cannot disable them, you can only delete them. While deleting a tag does not effect contact records, you will of course lose the ability to search based on that criteria.

You can edit and delete tags, as well as add Tag Sets.

  1. Navigate Contacts → Manage Tags.
  2. Click the Add Tag Set button to add a new tag set.
  3. Click the Edit link to edit an existing tag.
  4. Click the Delete link to delete an existing tag.

Tag Sets

Tag sets are tagging structures which allow users to add their own tags on the fly.

While configured identically to regular tags they function quite differently. When you create a new tag set, it creates a new field on the edit pages of the entity's activities or cases as well as in the Tags tab for contacts.

This is a tokenising autocomplete field: as you begin to type, CiviCRM looks for matching tags in this tag set and displays any matches below the field. You can select an existing tag or create a new one by typing the entire tag and pressing the Enter key. The tag will then appear within the field in a box. Clicking on the X will untag the entity (contact, case or activity) that you are editing.

Tags created within a tag set can be viewed and edited from the normal Contacts → Manage Tags (Categories) list. However, tags created within a tag set will only be available within that particular tag set.