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Finding and Managing Duplicate Contact Records
Finding and Managing Duplicate Contact Records
Updated over a week ago

It’s very common for organizations to have duplicate contact records appear while adding contacts into Donor Management.

There’s a few ways our system is designed to help you locate and confirm these potential duplicates – as well as consolidate those records to help keep your data clean.

How Donor Management Identifies Potential Duplicates

Our system uses either a contact record’s email address or full mailing address as a “unique identifier.” This means that those two fields are considered an individual piece of information about a contact that’s unique to that particular person or organization.

When you’re adding donation or contact records, if you include an email and address for one contact records that shares that information with a second, separate contact, the system will assume that the two contacts are the same, and merge the records.

While the primary email address for a contact must be unique – meaning no other contact can have the same primary email address – the secondary and work email addresses can be shared by two or more contacts. In other words, those email addresses being shared between contacts won’t necessarily cause them to be flagged as duplicates.

However, if two contact records share a mailing address or a phone number, but not both, then our system will “flag” both contacts as being a potential duplicate.

Donor Management will provide an alert when potential duplicates are found, so that you can review the records and confirm that they are indeed duplicates – or that they should remain separate contacts.

Resolving Potential Duplicates

If Donor Management has flagged a pair of potential duplicates, you should see an orange exclamation mark appear next to the “Contacts” tab.

You’ll also see a new option appear below the “Groups” tab titled “Duplicates.” There should be another orange alert on that Duplicates tab, that indicates how many contact records have been flagged for your review.

If you click on that Duplicates tab, the page should refresh and display a list of all of the potential duplicate pairs that the system has identified.

Each pair of duplicates will be listed together, with a “/” in between the two names, and will display why the system had initially flagged the duplicates.

You’ll then want to click on the “Review” button next to the pair of duplicates you’d like to review.

You should now see a more detailed, side-by-side comparison of the two potentially duplicate profiles. This comparison includes the two contacts’ names, emails, addresses, and current number of donations recorded in their name.

You should be able to tell from this comparison whether or not the two records are true duplicates.

If not, you can always click on the “View Full Profile” link below either contact record to review their details more thoroughly.

Merging Contact Records

If the two records that have been flagged are indeed duplicates, you’ll want to determine which of the two records has more complete (or more accurate) information. For example, in the image below, the “Test Duplicate” record has an email address and mailing address listed – whereas the “T. Duplicate” record only provides an email address.

Once you’ve determined which record is more complete, you’ll then want to click on the circle at the bottom of that record.

When possible, while merging contact records, any blank fields from the selected profile will be populated with data from the secondary profile. The selected profile’s data will remain fully intact and won’t be impacted or overwritten.

Using the example listed above, this means that if you select “Test Duplicate” as the primary record, then that record will then include both the original email listed, as well as the email address listed under the secondary profile.

If you select “T. Duplicate” as the primary record, then that record will then include both email addresses from both profiles and will have the physical address from the secondary profile added to the “T. Duplicate’s” record.

Regardless of which profile you select, all giving records will be transferred onto that selected contact record. In other words – you won’t lose any donation records if you merge two contacts together.

Finally, once you’ve selected which record to keep, you’ll want to click on the blue “Merge Contacts” button at the bottom.

But Those Aren’t Duplicates...?

Our system is very good at identifying potential duplicates – but it’s not perfect!

Sometimes you’ll come across a pair of contacts that have been flagged for review as duplicates, but are actually two totally different people. This often happens if you have John Smith as a donor, as well as his son, John Smith Jr. - or if two family members have a shared email address.

This is also why you have to review each potential duplicate pair individually, and can’t review them in bulk – we want you to be 100% confident that your data is as accurate as possible!

If you’ve determined that a flagged pair isn’t actually a set of duplicate records, you can instead click on the “These Aren’t Duplicates” button at the bottom of the screen.

This will confirm that these two records should remain separate moving forward.

Manually Flagging Duplicates

As you are adding contact records, you might come across a pair of duplicate records on your own that our system hasn’t flagged automatically. For example, this can happen when someone changes their name, but your historical records list both their updated name and their prior name.

Not to worry – you can manually flag a pair of contacts as duplicates so you can review and merge them together.

You’ll first want to locate the two contacts and select them, by clicking the small box in the top-left corner of the contact records. (Once selected, it will turn blue and a white checkmark will appear in the box.)

Once both records have been selected, you can click on the “Bulk Actions” button towards the top-left of your screen, and select the “Flag Potential Duplicates” option.

At that point, you will be automatically be taken into the process to merge those records.

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