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The 6 Most Important Questions to Ask Before Sending Your Files to Our Import Team
The 6 Most Important Questions to Ask Before Sending Your Files to Our Import Team

Speed up your import by preparing the data in a way that avoids the top 6 common questions from our Import team.

AJ Alexander (they/them) avatar
Written by AJ Alexander (they/them)
Updated over a week ago

In this article, we will review the top six data issues that tend to slow down the initial import process and how you can correct these common issues before sending us your files. 

For a downloadable version of our import template, please click here.

Are these individual contact records with an employer or organization contact records with a point of contact? 

When prepping your file to send to us, you want to consider how you'd like to see your individual contacts versus your organization contacts. This is the top data issue that leads to import corrections and even re-imports when it's not addressed from the beginning.

Donor management stores two types of contact records:

  • an individual contact record that can be a single person or couple with the option to have an employer listed 

  • an organization contact record that sometimes has a point of contact that you've dealt with directly. 

When thinking of how you'd like to see a contact in your system, you should consider who is the donor in this situation.

  1. Is your point of contact the donor, and they just happen to work at that organization?

  2. Or is the donor (the entity giving you the donation) the organization, and you just happen to only speak to that one person who is the point of contact at the organization?

Based on your answer to these questions, you'll know immediately how to organize your contacts. 

Yes to Question #1

If you answered yes to question # 1, then your contacts are individuals with an employer. This means when you're preparing the file for submission to us that you want to ensure the organization name is in a column titled Employer. This will help us understand that this is how you want to see these contacts, and it will lower the chances that we have to reach out to you about formatting. 

Yes to Question #2

If you answered yest to number 2, then your contacts are organizations with a point of contact. This means when you're preparing your file that you want to ensure the organization name is in a column titled Organization and that the point of contact is listed after the organization in a separate column. You may also want to distinguish who the contact information belongs to, and you can do this by labeling the columns like so: Organization Address, Contact Email. By placing Organization in front of the title of that field, it lets us know who should receive the information during import.

Lastly, you may have a mixture of these two, and that's totally fine! You can use the organization steps here to help let us know how you'd like to see those contacts or include a note at the time of file submission with how you'd like us to handle them.

How would you like to see couples in your system?

Depending on the system you're coming from, you may have couples stored a few different ways. You could have "Spouse" fields on all contacts where you input the information when it's available, or you could be storing the as one contact record: "Sean and Jane Johnson". No matter how you currently store them, you will want to begin thinking about how you want to see them in your new donor management system.

Donor management is designed towards individuals and their giving history so that you can manage the relationship you have with each individual. This means that ideally you would have both spouse in donor management as separate contacts sharing the same physical address so you can utilize the householding feature that combines them when you're sending out any direct mail pieces. 

However, we understand that depending on how the previous system stored this information you may want different options for storing this information in your new donor management system.

Here are the best ways to manage couples' information: 

Option #1

We can split all of your couples into individual contacts so that you can take full advantage of the donor management system. Donor management is designed to work off of individual contacts so by splitting them you will be able to do two important things with your communication: 

  • You'll be able to email each person in the couple separately

  • You'll be able to use the householding feature to combine the couple when sending out snail mail using our direct mailing feature. 

The important thing to remember is that when we process this split for you that we also have to assign donations to only one person from the couple. This means you will need to let us know which individual should retain the donation information. 

Option #2

We can leave all couples grouped as one contact named, "John & Jane Smith". With this option, all donations are attached to both members of the couple. This means you will not have to make a change to the way the couple was stored in your previous system. However, it does mean you will only be able to reach them at the one primary email address.

Simply let us know using the Notes section on the submission form how you'd like for us to handle couples when you submit your files for import, and we'll take care of the rest!

Where are the donation dates? 

The donation date field is one of the most important fields to consider when bringing in your donation history. Having donation dates gives you accurate reports when you review your donors and how (and when!) they gave to you. 

Donation date is a required field. Make sure you assign a date to each donation before submitting your files to us. Here are some things to consider when you're filling in donation dates from your previous system if that system didn't store this information:

  • Did the campaign or event occur during a certain time of year? If yes, fill in the donation date that aligns with that campaign or event.

  • If you have the year of the donation, could we just assign the first date of your fiscal year, such as January 1st?

  • If you have the year and the month, could we just assign the first day of that month? 

If you're undecided on what date to give a donation, we recommend giving it January 1st three years prior to your import date so that it doesn't affect your most recent giving year history, allowing for more accurate reports.

No matter what you decide, we will help you get the information into your system and by considering and fixing this before your submission it will aid in a smooth migration process.

How can I clean up duplicates before my data is imported? 

During any import, you will most likely run into duplicates. This could result from having the same person entered multiple times in your previous system with different contact information or perhaps you have more than one person in the same household. Either way, you may check over the rules for duplicates before submitting your files for import. Here's how you can check for duplicates before submitting your files: 

  • You can quickly identify duplicates already in your file by first selecting the entire list of contacts and then using the "Conditional Formatting" button inside of Excel.

    Once you have this section open, you will see an option for "Highlighting Cell Rules", and you can use the "Duplicate Values" option to have Excel automatically check for and highlight duplicates in the file.  Remember, whatever columns you have selected in the file are the columns that will be checked. You may want to start this process checking the First and Last Name, Email, Phone Number, and Physical Address (be sure to exclude city, state and zip as these are not unique to one individual). 

  • Once you've identified the duplicates, you can then review them before submitting the file. This will aid you by lowering the number of duplicates that you may have to review once the import is complete.

Remember: The system will flag potential duplicates that you will need to fix if any of your contact records any of the following matching information: 

  • Full Name OR

  • Home Address

(Note: if someone has a different first name, but the same last name and home address, the system will mark them as duplicates that you will need to resolve. In many instances, this is because they live in the same home. Here's more about how households are tracked in your donor management system.)

What fields will you use for running reports? 

Think about all the fields that you depend on to run reports. You'll want to bring over any pertinent information that is used in reporting into your new donor management system. 

No matter the field, we can always bring in any information that you may have been using to track contacts or donors in a previous system. Donor management allows us to create custom fields for both contact records and donation records. These are helpful to use when you're tracking something in addition to the standard fields in the donor management system.

For example, you may currently track information on a contact such as contact type, and we can keep this for you so that you can easily filter down your contacts to either generate a list or create a list to send out an email communication to. The same thing is true for donations. A common field that non-profits like to track on donations is Appeal or Solicitation, and we can bring this in as a field directly on your donations so you can easily look at the results from that particular email or mailing campaign while also keeping track of information such as the overall giving campaign and fund that it should be applied to. 

Simply remember to include these fields in your file, and you can even leave us a note in the instruction area when submitting the form for import. 

How can I remove unnecessary information I no longer need? 

If you are confident that you don't want a field imported because the information isn't useful, go through your files and delete any columns that contain information you do not want to see in your donor management system. Deleting these columns prior to submitting your data will make your import go smoother and faster! 

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