I am considering splitting contacts into two separate categories. If you have any comments to make on this, please do share them:

  • I’ve opened comments on this page,
  • you can email (replies to the “new post” message will reach me),
  • those of you have access to Cameo on GitHub, there’s an issue for contact categories you can add to (sorry, I can’t add any more as private repositories are limited)


Currently, a membership record can be one of four categories:

  • current (i.e. paid-up member)
  • new (pending enrolment)
  • old (expired, resigned or otherwise no longer current)
  • contact (a non-paying record)

Then, paying members (the first three) have a membership type, and contacts have a contact type, each with various properties (like fees) which can be defined by a Cameo administrator.

However, it has always been the case that contacts really divide into two kinds:

  • those that are there primarily for the organisation’s needs: for example, for lobbying, press, advertisers and so on
  • those that are non-subscribing supporters of one kind or another: people who have signed up voluntarily to keep in touch

There is a half-hearted attempt to make this distinction in that contact types can be put marked as exceptions and those exceptions can be excluded from searches. This was easy to do but always a bit of a hack, and it has meant things like welcome contacts don’t really work as envisaged: that should really only apply to to the latter kind.

What would change

Therefore I’m thinking of making this distinction more explicit, by dividing contacts in two. Contacts would be the first group, and supporters, volunteers (or some such: ally? friend?) the second. What should these two categories be called? (You might already have a supporters contact type, but that’s coincidental; indeed for historical reasons, one install has misnamed supporters which really belong in the contacts category, and this would be an opportunity to tidy this up.)

Contacts and Volunteers (or whatever) would be different background colours by default (but keep any custom colours your administrator has set up). Everywhere you can currently select which categories to include would offer the extra category rather than the clumsy “exclude some contact types”.

And while on the subject of names, I would really like to find an umbrella term for “membership [record]”. I have tried to use member to mean paying member (new, current, old) and membership to also include contact, but the distinction is really too subtle, and it gets worse with another category. It needs to be brief so it fits on buttons. Record is one possibility, but that feels too generic to me – there are many more record types than just the membership ones in Cameo.

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