For frequent data imports into The Raiser’s Edge, ImportOmatic can create, save and edit import profiles (templates of file layouts) for use with frequently imported file formats… allowing you to create profiles that you use over and over again. Each profile defines the layout and field values for a particular import file type and customizable options for handling imported data. This minimizes the need for manual record editing after an import. Import profiles can also be used to import address changes, tribute gifts and information, event participation payments and registrations, membership sales and renewals, volunteer, and proposal records.
To make your ImportOmatic profiles in The Raiser’s Edge® (RE) even better, and to save you time and errors, consider the following suggestions:
1. Create a .CSV file that contains all fields you will be using in your new profile. Add only two or three constituents that are safe to experiment with. One idea is to use one fictional new constituent (Mickey Mouse), and one existing constituent (perhaps your own record). This is a risk free way of testing an import, even in your live database.
Tip: It’s a good idea to mark your fictional records as Deceased and Requests No Email to keep them from coming up in your queries and reports later.
2. Visualize the type of data you want to import.
a. If you are importing a gift, look at the required fields and be sure you have all of the required fields in your import. Create a new constituent record and write down which fields are required. Required fields are easy to spot, as they have a different color.
b. Also check to see if the values in your data file match the values that are in your Blackbaud’s The Raiser’s Edge 7 (RE) database. These can be table entries; or things like Campaign, Fund, Appeal, and Package names.
For example, Fund is a required field to save a gift in RE, so you will need a Fund in your import. Your data file may have a value of “General Fund”, but in RE this fund may be named “GF1000.” The values have to match when you import, or you will receive an error. Additionally, the incoming value for Fund must match your settings in RE User Options to avoid errors.
Check your RE User Options to see if you should be importing the Fund ID or Fund Description. To do so: Select User options from the tools menu at the top of your Raiser’s Edge screen. Select the records tab. Select Campaigns on the left. Write down your Campaign format. Select Funds on the left. Write down your Fund format.
Often dictionaries are needed to translate “General Fund” into “GF1000”. Please note that whether you use IDs or descriptions for funds and campaigns is a user wide setting, so if your coworker has her user options set for ID and your import focuses on descriptions, she will receive error messages when importing. You may want to consider making sure everybody selects either ID or description.
3. Always make sure you create queries of records imported and updated. To do so, open your profile and select Queries in the bottom left of your screen. Check the “Create static queries for: Added Constituents” and “Create static queries for: Modified Constituents” options.
After your import, open these queries and scroll through the records to verify your import results. You should always do this, and you should verify your results immediately after importing so you can restore a backup if needed.
You can globally delete the records in the query of added constituents, if needed, but never globally delete the records in the query of modified constituents!
4. The IOM User Guide is your friend! The section on Import Processing is particularly helpful as it explains all of the interactive pop-up boxes that can come up, and what each option on them means.
5. Getting import exceptions? Your error report can be found in the location for error/exception files, which can be changed by opening up your profile and selecting Files in the bottom left corner of your screen. Error files have names that make it easy to trace them back to the time of import. Their names have a date and time in them. The format looks as follows: YYYYMMDD_HHMMSS_Error.txt.
Exceptions are listed by line number and not by Excel row number. To compare the error.txt file to your original data file, add 1 to the line number in your exception, as the error.txt does not take into account the header row. So, if the exception lists Line 5, then look at row 6 in Excel.
Let ImportOmatic fix incoming data for you, whenever possible! For example, if you notice that Excel dropped the first zero in zip codes that start with a 0 ( Ex: 05299 becomes 5299), go to the ImportOmatic forum to copy the dictionary that adds a zero to zip codes that are missing the first digit.
6. Use the Test Code function on the Virtual Fields screen to test your code before importing, especially if you are using virtual fields and dictionaries. The ImportOmatic user guide walks you through this easy process.
7. Select “If a constituent/import ID in the data file does not match to a constituent/import ID in the Raiser’s Edge, continue processing the data row” if your file does not have IDs, or if you have IDs but the file is a mix of existing and new constituents.
This setting can be found by opening your profile and then selecting ID Matching on the left side of your screen. Not selecting it will cause exceptions for every single row of data in Excel.
8. Give your duplicate criteria sets descriptive names like “first name + last name” and “address + zip”, as opposed to “Lisa’s duplicate criteria.” Doing so makes it much easier to select the right duplicate criteria sets when building a new profile.
Don’t include too many criteria items in one set. If you create a set that has first name, last name, address, and zip, then an existing RE record will only be perceived to be a possible match to the incoming record if ALL 4 of those criteria match exactly, out to the number of characters specified.
Consider creating 2 criteria sets: “first name and last name” and “address and zip” instead. This way, an existing record will be perceived to be a possible match if either the first and last name match OR if the address and zip match.
You have the option when establishing first name as a duplicate criterion to select how far into a first name ImportOmatic should read to establish whether a record is a duplicate or not. Many users select “2” to ensure that Michael and Mike are perceived to be duplicates.
9. Always test your import, by running IOM in Validate Mode, using a file containing only a handful of records (we generally recommend no more than 10) before actually importing your live file. This will allow you to easily correct any issues that you discover in item #3, above. Manually correcting issues on 10 records isn’t so bad. Manually correcting issues on 1000+ records would be incredibly time consuming, and some problems may require that you restore a backup of your RE database to correct (such as accidentally overwriting addresses with other data because your profile was mapped incorrectly).