Importing data

Updated a year ago

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Now, you’ve looked at how to enter data, how to customise it, and how to report on it - but you may be wondering how to bring data into Beacon in bulk.

If you’re coming to us from an old database, or you’ve simply got a pile of spreadsheets you’d like to bring in, then Importing is the way forward.

link Video instructions:

link Written instructions:

  1. Firstly, head to 'Import Data' and then 'Manage Templates' on the left hand side menu Screenshot 2021-05-20 at 17.19.31
  2. Before you can bring your data in, you'll need to set up an Import Template. Essentially, the template tells Beacon exactly where to put all of the data you want to bring in!
  3. Click Create TemplateCreate Template
  4. You'll want to give the Template a name - this should be something that will allow you to find the template easily in future. name the template
  5. Now go to the Record Type dropdown and select the type of record you'll be uploading data to. In this example, I'm going to be uploading data to the 'People' and 'Organisations' records - but as most of the information I'm bringing in pertains to the 'People' record type, that's the one I'm going to select.Record Type
  6. Once you've chosen the Record Type that suits the information you want to bring in, click Create
  7. Great - here's your template! You may be surprised by how bare things are looking on this page -but Beacon will have a look at your spreadsheet in order to see what information you want to pull in. To continue with this exercise, you'll want to have a spreadsheet ready to import. In my case, I created a sample spreadsheet with 10 people, their emails, and their organisations, and saved it as a CSV(this is crucial - any data you import has to be stored in a CSV format!). If you want to give this a go with our dummy data - you can download the spreadsheet here.
  8. Drag and drop your spreadsheet into the Upload AreaUpload Area
  9. You'll see that Beacon has had a look at your spreadsheet, and, provided the headings are clear, is now showing them on your template. Click on the first heading, and choose where in Beacon this information should be mapped to. Once you're happy, do this for the rest. Mapping
  10. Remember - if you can't find a suitable field to upload the data to, you'll want to create it! You should already have covered this in the training, but you can view a how-to in our guide here:
  11. Once you're happy with where you have mapped the data to, scroll down, and we'll take a look at the remaining options here you have to customise the data you are bringing in
  12. Skip Rows as you may have guessed (and if you haven't, I'm not really sure what to say...!), you can use this functionality to skip rows in your spreadsheet. Say you're bringing in a load of donations, but don't want to bring in Donations where the reference is "123". You can tell Beacon to skip these!Skip Rows
  13. Fixed Data tells Beacon what fixed pieces of information should be set on every record you upload. So, if you were uploading a spreadsheet of people who had donated to your organisation, you may want to set the fixed data to say that all People records imported using this template, will be set as DonorsDonor Type
  14. Deduplication is essential - it's how you ensure that you don't end up with multiple duplicate records in Beacon. You want to select something unique to deduplicate by - in this example, I know that every person on my spreadsheet has a unique email, so I'm going to set 'Email' as the Deduplicator. Screenshot 2021-05-21 at 11.49.01
  15. Click Save Changes and the template is ready to go!
  16. Now the template is set up - you'll want to run it! So, head to Run Import on the left hand side menu Screenshot 2021-05-21 at 11.58.20
  17. Click Run Import, and in the dropdown you'll be able to see the import template you just created. Select it, and you'll be able to upload your spreadsheet.
  18. Beacon will then check your spreadsheet for any errors. These may be things like incorrectly formatted phone numbers or email addresses. This is a great opportunity to check and ensure your data is as clean as possible before you bring it into Beacon. You've got a choice here - you can go off and correct the errors (you can usually correct email addresses etc), but if the issues are with things like phone numbers, these are a lot harder to correct! If Beacon has identified something as being incorrect - it won't bring it in - so you can hit Import safe in the knowledge that Beacon won't bring the faulty data in, if it's something you don't feel you can correct.
  19. Hit Import, and your data will be brought into Beacon immediately!

And that's Importing!


Hang on though - there are a few things I want to circle back to before you run off to play with Imports!

Firstly - Importing is super simple once you've got the hang of it, but we know that you might find it a bit daunting to start with. To counter that, we've got a wide range of templates pre-made to help you understand how importing works, and what data you may want to import. These are stored in our Template Library. When you go to Create a Template, you can click on the 'Create a blank template' dropdown to see a wide range of different templates - from basic templates to help you bring data across from spreadsheets, to in depth templates for various third party partners you may want to bring data across from - like Mailchimp, Justgiving, and Donr.

Secondly, I want to touch upon Smart Columns. You can add these when you're mapping your data - they're the yellow box with a plus sign on the right of your columns: smart columns These are like additional cells in a spreadsheet, and we can do Excel formula in them in order to bring your data in exactly as you need it. Play around with these and see the different things you can do - we have tons of helpful examples listed here:

Now - I think that's everything on Importing for now. Go forth and use that knowledge to easily bring some data into your Beacon account! Courage

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