Handling c4 contacts, contributions, and memberships in conjunction with c3 info in PowerBase

Disclaimer and Warning:

Strongly urge organizations to discuss with their legal representative about how they should hand c4 information, especially if the organization has both a c3 and c4 and are using one database to manage contacts from both entities. Mark advises not to send folks this document - at least without the warning that they should seek legal advice first. The suggestions for set up here will depend on the advice directed by the organzation's lawyers.


Sometimes PowerBase clients have sister organizations that have a different tax status with respect to the IRS. PTP has no legal expertise for advising PowerBase clients on any of the legal aspects of how to ensure that their implementation for managing their data conforms to their legal requirements.

We have seen a couple of scenarios where groups have integrated their related organizations into their database. The first is to create memberships for the C4 members. The second is to lease their membership list to a C4 organization. Here is a brief description of each of them.

Implementing a membership for another organization

To track memberships, one defines the membership organization as an organizational contact and then creates membership types for that organization. There is no restriction on the number of organizations that can have membership types. If an organization wants to create a C4 membership that is managed separately, create “Financial Types” for the C4 organization to manage the funds. Then create the C4 organization record and the membership types. These memberships can have their own membership online sign up pages linked to the appropriate web site and, of course, offline memberships can be recorded as well.

Depending on the definition of membership in the C4, you have several options based on the practices we’ve seen. Check with your lawyer as we do not provide legal advice.

1) For memberships that expire and that you want PowerBase to track, you can create membership types. Link them to the contribution pages created above.
2) If all donors or members of the C3 organization will become members of the C4 at the outset, you can create membership records for them.
3) Alternatively, some groups track which C3 contacts are also transferred to the C4 base by using a custom field in the constituent info field set. A select field type will work with options like:

  1. C3 supporter
  2. C4 supporter

Someone may be both.

Managing c4 Contributions

To accept contributions for the C4, these steps are required.
1) Create new financial types and possibly financial accounts to track the donations that come in for the C4 organization
2) Create a new theme to match the theme of the C4 web site
3) Create new contribution pages for the C4

In some cases, it’s not desirable to have the name of the C3 in the PowerBase url. The C3 name is typically part of the PowerBase url. Special steps may be required to get around this.

Managing how you lease your contacts

In some cases, the C3 contact list is made available for purchase to any C4 organization for a market price. The C4 pays for access to the C3 contact list on a per capita basis. As new C3 records are created, their information may be sold to the C4. To do this in PowerBase, you’ll need to track if the name initially came in through the C3 organization or the C4 organization. If a name came in through the C3 organization, and you sell or lease it to the C4, you’ll want to track whether it has been leased or sold already.

There are a couple of ways to do this:

1) Create a custom field indicating if the contact has been sold/leased or not. To track which contacts have been sold properly, a custom field is created in the constituent info field set. The form of the field can vary. A yes/no field type will work where there is only one C4 purchasing the contact information. Once it’s been sold/leased then update the individual records indicating that it has been. The update process could be simply taking the export file contact ID’s of the contacts being sold and adding a column for the custom field that tracks whether it’s been sold/leased. Then import the list in Update mode to change the values in the custom field.

2) It’s also possible to track sold/leased contacts via “regular” groups. Once a contact is sold/leased, add it to the group. You’ll still need to track which contacts originally came from the C4 so that you can exclude them from the sale/lease process.

Admin Tasks
Collecting and Managing Contact Information
Customizing PowerBase