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Configure Household Naming

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe how NPSP creates automatic household names.
  • Customize the household name format.
  • Customize the formal and informal greetings.


If you haven’t earned your Donor Management with the Nonprofit Success Pack badge yet, complete that module first. It explains a few concepts that we are going to assume you already know.

Household Naming Refresher

Remember that in NPSP, when you create a new contact and leave the account field blank, a related household account record is created for you, and NPSP automatically names the new household account according to the name of the new contact. 

By default, NPSP:

  • Creates the name of a new household based on the last name of a new contact
  • Creates formal and informal greetings when you add more contacts
  • Updates household names and greetings when you update contact information 

Let's take a look at an example of household naming in the configuration that comes out of the box with NPSP.

Account Details, highlighting Account Name, Formal Greeting, and Informal Greeting fields

In this example, NPSP displays the default naming conventions for two contacts in the same household: Roberto and Lucy Alvarez. If your organization is happy with that, then, honestly, you can skip the rest of this unit. Hooray! But what if your users want the formal greeting to be Mr. and Mrs. Alvarez? Or Mr. Roberto Alvarez and Mrs. Lucy Alvarez? NPSP allows you to customize the household name and greeting formats.

Our fictional nonprofit, No More Homelessness (NMH), has a consulting partner to handle some of the more complex customization they require, but their admin Gorav is tackling the set up of NMH’s basic household naming configuration. He meets with his key stakeholders on the development and programs teams and gets alignment around the defaults they want to use at NMH. He has them define their preferences for all key settings. Let’s follow along as Gorav customizes these items for his organization. 

Gorav and the No More Homelessness team development discuss an upcoming project.

Customize Household Naming

The household name format is the format that the NPSP uses to determine the household account name. NPSP gives you many different options beyond the default option of {Last Name} Household. Let's take a look at how NMH customizes their household naming settings.

1. Click the NPSP Settings object. If you don't see the tab, you can find it from the app launcher ( App launcher icon).

2. Click People > Households.

3. Click Edit at the top of the page.

NPSP Settings page, highlighting Edit

A map of the important elements on the Household Settings details page.

(1) From the Household Name Format menu, select the format that appeals to you. The NMH stakeholders agreed on {!LastName} Family as their default, so Gorav makes that selection and takes a look at the preview. Gorav then moves on to customize the formal and informal greetings. 

(2) The Formal Greeting Format is the format that NPSP uses to determine how a household's formal greeting appears. Like household naming, NPSP gives you many different options beyond the default. 

(3) The Informal Greeting Format is the format NPSP uses to determine how a household's informal greeting appears. Again, NPSP gives you many different options beyond the default.

Gorav selects {!{!Salutation} {!FirstName}} {!LastName} and {!{!FirstName}} respectively and previews the changes to ensure it displays as he intended. As you make different selections, a (5) box farther down the page shows you a preview of what the informal greeting will look like.

Note that the household name, formal greeting and informal greeting convention also depends on other factors, such as how many contacts might be part of the household, how many of those contacts you might want listed, the order of contacts, and so on. 

The Name Connector, Name Overrun, and name sequence also affect the appearance of your household names and greetings. You can customize those as well to fit your organizational preference.

(4) The Name Connector joins multiple contacts together in the name, formal name, or informal name fields. The default value is “and,” but you can override that with another value, like “&” or “y.” There are no character restrictions on the value.

(6) The Name Overrun value is a text value that replaces a long list of names in a Household Name, Formal Greeting, or Informal Greeting. The default is “Friends.” 

(7) The Contact Overrun Count is the number that indicates the maximum number of names you want to show. The default for this setting is 9. You might have nine members of a household, but you certainly wouldn't want to list out all of their names in the household name or a greetings. 

Following the requirements from his team, Gorav leaves the default value for the Name Connector, but updates the Name Overrun value to “Family” and the Contact Overrun Count to “2”.

4. When you're finished editing the household name format, click Save.

Alright, Gorav has just updated the Household name settings for all Households in the NMH org. Users can still customize the Household name, Formal and Information greetings for an individual record, but Gorav has set the default. 

Refresh All Household Names

If Gorav was working in a brand new org with no data, he could update the household name settings and know that all households created moving forward would use those settings. But Gorav has some data in his org so he wants to refresh the naming for all existing household names and greetings. 

There is no way to undo these changes in bulk from NPSP Settings, so careful consideration should be given before proceeding. In fact, before running this process, Gorav creates a backup of the NMH data by exporting a full report of all household accounts that contain these four fields: ID, Name, Formal Greeting, Informal Greeting. 

Let’s follow along as Gorav refreshes all household names.

1. Click NPSP Settings, then click Bulk Data Processes > Refresh Household Names.

2. Carefully review the WARNING section before refreshing household names.

3. Click Refresh All Household Names to start the process.

NPSP Settings, highlighting Bulk Data Processes, Refresh Household Names

After the process is complete, Gorav checks a few records. Gorav’s new name settings have been reflected in the Alvarez household record and will be reflected in any new households when they are created.

The Alvarez Household information, highlighting household name fields

While an end user can customize the Household name, and Formal and Informal Greetings on any specific Household record, Gorav’s changes have set the default for NMH. Every NMH household will start with those default settings.

Customize the Name Sequence

Customizing the order of contact names in household names, formal greetings, and informal greetings is something that any user can do to a single record directly from that household account record. 

1. Navigate to the Household Account or Household object record whose contact names you want to re-order.

2. Click Manage Household.

Household account header, highlighting Manage Household button

3. On the Manage Household page, drag the contact cards from left to right to re-order them.

Manage Household editing page, highlighting movable contact cards

4. Click Save.

Updated names on the household page

Automatic Household Renaming

There are certain actions that trigger an automatic update of the household name. For example, if you update the value of a contact field that's included in the household naming formula, NPSP automatically updates the household name.

Some common actions that trigger NPSP to update the household name include:

  • Update to any contact field that's included in the naming formula
  • Adding or removing a contact from a household
  • Removing or deleting the last contact in a household and making the primary contact field blank. With these cases, NPSP renames the Household “Anonymous.”

Now let’s take a look at another group of settings related to contacts and accounts that you can customize to help your users work most effectively: address management.