Import your data into ChurchSuite

At its heart, ChurchSuite is a Web-based church database, and the Address Book, at its most basic level, serves as a repository for all your church adult contacts (which may equally include non-church members). In order to make use of ChurchSuite's many features, you will need to first have some contact data in the Address Book module. You can of course add new contacts through ChurchSuite at any time, but if you have a pre-existing church database, you will want to upload this to ChurchSuite in one go.

In this article

Exporting your existing data
Importing your CSV file(s) into ChurchSuite
Optional Fields
Prefix for Tags, Notes and Key Dates
Data import with special characters (language support)
Import file specifications - Address Book module
Import file specifications - Children module

Note: Your pre-existing church data will ideally need to be divided into two files - one for adults and one for children. They are each imported into the Address Book and Children modules respectively. Also, when importing data to a multi-site account, the site should be specified in the data, otherwise the site you're currently browsing is the site that the data will be imported into.

Just started a free trial?

We are happy to help with importing your contacts - just let us know on support@churchsuite.com

Exporting your existing data

Make sure your address book is the right file type. To upload your church database to ChurchSuite, it needs to be in the form of a .CSV file, using a comma as the delimiter and in UTF-8 format. 

With Spreadsheet programs such as MS Excel or Google Docs, you are able to save spreadsheets as .CSV files. Also, a lot of 'contact management' programs generally let you export your data as .CSV files - this is the standard format generally used for this kind of data.

Using the Microsoft Outlook address book for your church contacts and want to import it to ChurchSuite? First, follow these instructions for exporting the data to a CSV file, then move on to the next step.

Using Mac OSX Contacts for your church contacts and want to import it to ChurchSuite? You'll first need to convert Apple's native ".abbu" file format to CSV. Check out this external article on how to do this.

Tip! - Text format

When preparing your CSV file, you might consider using mixed "sentence" case formatting rather than UPPERCASE formatting, especially for first name and last name fields - that way, when you are using ChurchSuite communication 'merge fields' you can personalise your communications as "Dear James" rather than "Dear JAMES".

Importing your CSV file(s) into ChurchSuite

Go to "Address Book" (or "Children") and click on "Import Contacts"

Next, make sure your CSV file is the right format. To do this, open your CSV file in a Spreadsheet application like Microsoft Excel or Google Docs. Ensure that the first row contains the correct header information that ChurchSuite will use to match each field in your data with the fields in ChurchSuite. Each field must be correctly labelled e.g. first_name, last_name. A full list of the accepted fields with the relevant header information can be found at the end of this article and on the "Import Contacts" page within ChurchSuite. Importantly you don't have to have a column for every field - ChurchSuite will only import those fields you supply in your CSV file; however you must ensure every incoming field that your supply in your data is assigned to a ChurchSuite field (otherwise it won't be imported). Please note that it's not possible to import images for your contacts from within a CSV file; instead these must be uploaded against each contact profile after the data is imported - your church members can also upload their own profile images using the member-facing My ChurchSuite - see related articles.

Tip! - What fields should be imported?

You do not require to import every field, in the specification below - only import those that are relevant.  The minimum required are the first and last name of a contact.

Do not use the same column header twice, otherwise one of the fields will be ignored.  For tags, key dates and notes see paragraph below on 'Prefix when importing fields as Tags, Notes and Key Dates'

ChurchSuite will import every column from your CSV file that has a "CSV header" that it recognises.

Tip! - Example CSV

You may find our template contact import CSV file useful. Simply download (by right-clicking the link and selecting "Save as" and then open it in Excel or another Spreadsheet program.

Optional Fields

Please note that not all fields that are available for import are automatically viewable. A number of fields are configurable by the Administrator and must be enabled in the Address Book and/or Children module settings first. Here are the optional fields you can enable in the module's settings.

Column Address Book Children
Title Yes n/a
Middle Name Yes Yes
Formal Name Yes Yes
Former Name Yes n/a
Address 3 Yes Yes
Work Telephone Yes n/a
Student Details Yes n/a
Additional Email n/a Yes
Additional Mobile n/a Yes

Top Tip! - Date formats

It is recommended to have dates in either the ISO format (yyyy-mm-dd) or your local format (e.g. UK: dd/mm/yyyy or North America: mm/dd/yyyy).

Prefix when importing fields as Tags, Notes and Key Dates

There no limit to the number of columns in your CSV file that can imported as Tags, Key Dates and Notes. To help, the import process can auto-detect these columns if the following format is used 'tag_<name>', e.g 'tag_Role', as follows:

Tags - 'tag_'
Notes - 'notes_'
Key Dates - 'kd_'

NOTE: If you have multiple columns of 'Tags', 'Key Dates' or 'Notes', use the special prefix (e.g. tag_Wedding) in the column header (see example CSV file).

Tags
Tags may be separated by a comma e.g. 'Leader, First Aid'.
Note: The suffix name <name> must be unique e.g. tag_Role, tag_Group. The suffix name is not saved.

Notes
If multiple columns of notes are to be imported, use the format 'notes_<name>' for each column e.g. 'notes_Family', notes_Special'
The suffix name <name> is not saved.

Key Dates
A key date may contain a Description. To include a description, create the date as follows:

Column Header: kd_Wedding
Data: 23/07/2001 Westminster Abbey

The prefix (kd_) will be removed during import, so make the name as meaningful as possible e.g. 'kd_Wedding' will be shown created as a Key Date called 'Wedding'.

What is the 'child' parameter?

Children may be included in the contacts import, if the value of 'child' is entered into the column named 'child'.  

Notes re children in the contacts import
1. Not all fields associated for a child are supported if they are imported as contacts. 
2. Any fields classified as 'CHILD ONLY' will import the contact as a child, regardless of age.
3. If the age is determined to be under 18, the contact will be imported as a child.

Once you have made the right changes to your CSV file and you are happy to proceed with the import, save it to your desktop and close your spreadsheet application.

Back in ChurchSuite on the "Import contacts" page, click the " Choose File" button to browse to the CSV file on your desktop. Click "Import CSV File". ChurchSuite now shows a preview of your data, with examples of the first 5 records in your data.

Note the "CSV Header" column - this can be helpful in ensuring ChurchSuite matches the correct incoming data to fields that exist in ChurchSuite. By changing the "Import As" drop-down field you can specify which field your data should be assigned. Note that items marked with a yellow warning symbol will not be imported and require attention - either to set as "Do not import", or to specify the correct field under "Import As".

Once completed, select "Import contacts" and ChurchSuite will finish the import.

When importing contacts, children or givers, a default Tag of "Import [date and time]" is added to them, making it easy to identify the newly imported people, and to delete them if the import didn't go as expected. You may safely delete this Tag after import once you are satisfied that your imported data is correct.

Linking Partners/Spouses and Children

After the import has been completed, the process will attempt to link spouses for contacts and parents for children.

A spouse will be linked if they are 'married' and live at the same address (line 1 only)

A child will be linked to their parent if they have the same last name, live at the same address (line 1 only) and the parent is 'married'.

It is recommended that you import the address book first, then the children.

Data import with special characters (language support)

When importing your data in to ChurchSuite (Address Book or Children), some non-UK customers may experience an issue with accented characters in their data. This will be evident when you upload your CSV file and import your contacts. In the Import preview, you may see "�" characters in place of accented characters.

This issue is generally restricted to CSV files that are created using Microsoft Excel, (a known, but unresolved issue with how Excel handles characters in the UTF-8 character set), and is not a bug with the Import functionality in ChurchSuite.

To work around the issue, click "cancel import" and follow the guidance below.

Whilst you can still prepare your data in Excel, you will need to use alternative software to produce the final CSV export file(s) of your Excel-formatted data.

For Mac we recommend using Apple's native Numbers spreadsheet application. For Windows, we suggest using OpenOffice. Each have identical functionality to Excel and will open your Excel-formatted spreadsheets.

Within your alternative software, now re-save your data (or export it) in CSV format and then retry the data Import in ChurchSuite; being sure to choose your newly created CSV file. Click "import contacts" again, and check your accented characters in the import preview. If everything looks to be in order, proceed with the completing the import process.

If you continue to experience difficulties, contact ChurchSuite Support and we will happily assist - we can even import your data for you.

Import file specifications - Address Book module

Field Imported Into Sample Data
title will be imported into the Title field Mr OR Mrs OR Miss OR Ms OR Dr OR Rev OR Sir OR Lady
full_name broken into First Name and Last Name fields Joe Bloggs or Bloggs, Joe
first_name will be imported into the First Name field Joe
middle_name will be imported into the Middle Name field
last_name will be imported into the Last Name field Bloggs
formal_name will be imported into the Formal Name field Joseph
maiden_name will be imported into the Former Name field
known_as will be imported into First Name and First Name becomes Formal Name Joe
sex will be imported into the Sex field m OR f OR male OR female OR u (unknown)
date_of_birth will be imported into the Date of Birth field 31-01-1970 (i.e. dd-mm-YYYY)
marital will be imported into the Marital Status field NULL OR single OR engaged OR married OR cohabit OR separated OR divorced OR widowed
full_address breaks on commas into Address, Address 2, City, County and Postcode fields 1 Queens Drive, Beeston, Nottingham, Notts, NG1 1AB
address will be imported into the Address field
address2 will be imported into the Address 2 field
address3 will be imported into the Address 3 field
city will be imported into the City field
county will be imported into the County field
postcode will be imported into the Postcode field
country will be imported into the Country field
telephone will be imported into the Telephone field
work_telephone will be imported into the Work Telephone field
mobile will be imported into the Mobile field
email will be imported into the Email field
married_to Imported into Married Status field as married, if any name is present Jane (is married to this contact)
couple_first_names NEW CONTACTS CREATED for BOTH names Jane & Joe
married_notes Imported into the Marital Status field as married, if the word married is present married to Jane
spouse_first_name NEW CONTACT CREATED for Spouse Jane OR Jane Smith
spouse_last_name NEW CONTACT CREATED for Spouse Last name of spouse
spouse_email NEW CONTACT CREATED for Spouse Email of Spouse
spouse_mobile NEW CONTACT CREATED for Spouse Mobile of Spouse
child CHILD ONLY - determines if contact or child child - will be imported to Children module
school CHILD ONLY - imported into School field Town Primary school
medical CHILD ONLY - imported into Medical field Has a serious nut allergy
medical_short CHILD ONLY - imported into Medical (short) field peanut allergy
special_needs CHILD ONLY - imported into Special Needs field
doctor_details CHILD ONLY - imported into Doctor field Dr. S Rudrashetty, 1 Surgery Road, Nottingham (children are imported to Children module)
info CHILD ONLY - imported into Additional Info field Additional Information
(children are imported to Children module)
consent_use_internal CHILD ONLY - imported into Internal Use Consent? field 1 OR Yes OR True (Allow), 0 OR No OR False (Refuse)
consent_use_external CHILD ONLY - imported into External Use Consent? field 1 OR Yes OR True (Allow), 0 OR No OR False (Refuse)
job will be imported into the Job field
employer will be imported into the Employer field
notes will be imported into the Notes field
tags will be imported into the Tags field Member, Leader
keydate will be imported into the Key Date field Name in CSV header, Date in row
public_login will be imported into the Allow My ChurchSuite login? field 1 OR 0 (Yes OR No)
public_visible will be imported into the Name is visible? field 1 OR 0 (Yes OR No)
public_visible_address will be imported into the Address is visible? field 1 OR 0 (Yes OR No)
public_visible_telephone will be imported into the Telephone is visible? field 1 OR 0 (Yes OR No)
public_visible_mobile will be imported into the Mobile is visible? field 1 OR 0 (Yes OR No)
public_visible_email will be imported into the Email is visible? field 1 OR 0 (Yes OR No)
receive_email will be imported into the Receive Emails? field 1 OR 0 (Yes OR No)
receive_sms will be imported into the Receive SMS? field 1 OR 0 (Yes OR No)
site will be imported into the Site field Site name (if applicable)
student_address will be imported into the Address field
student_address2 will be imported into the Address 2 field
student_address3 will be imported into the Address 3 field
student_city will be imported into the City field
student_county will be imported into the County field County OR State
student_postcode will be imported into the Postcode field Postcode OR Zip
student_country will be imported into the Country field
student_telephone will be imported into the Telephone field
student_university will be imported into the University field
student_course will be imported into the Course field
student_year_start will be imported into the Start Year field yyyy
student_year_end will be imported into the End Year field yyyy
custom1 to custom10 will be imported into the Custom Field 1 to 10 fields

Import file specifications - Children module

Field Imported Into Sample Data
full_name broken into First Name and Last Name fields Janey Bloggs or Bloggs, Janey
first_name will be imported into the First Name field Janey
middle_name will be imported into the Middle Name field
last_name will be imported into the Last Name field Bloggs
formal_name will be imported into the Formal Name field Jane
known_as will be imported into First Name and First Name becomes Formal Name Janey
sex will be imported into the Sex field m OR f OR male OR female OR boy OR girl OR u (unknown)
date_of_birth will be imported into the Date of Birth field 31-01-1970 (i.e. dd-mm-YYYY)
telephone will be imported into the  Telephone field
(parent/guardian telephone number)
mobile will be imported into the  Mobile field 07700 900077
email will be imported into the  Email field janey123@hotmail.com
parent_name will be imported into the Parent Name field Joseph Bloggs
parent_first_name First name - Part of the Parent Name field Joseph
parent_last_name Last name - Part of the Parent Name field Bloggs
parent_mobile will be imported into the Parent Mobile field
parent_email will be imported into the Parent Email field joseph.bloggs@company.com
full_address breaks on commas into Address, Address 2, City, County and Postcode fields 1 Queens Drive, Beeston, Nottingham, Notts, NG1 1AB
address will be imported into the Address field
address2 will be imported into the Address 2 field
address3 will be imported into the Address 3 field
city will be imported into the City field
county will be imported into the County field
postcode will be imported into the Postcode field
country will be imported into the Country field
doctor_details will be imported into the Doctor field Dr. S Rudrashetty, 1 Surgery Road, Nottingham
doctor_name Doctor name - part of the Doctor field Dr. S Rudrashetty
surgery_name Surgery name - part of the Doctor field Wellbeing Surgery
surgery_address Surgery address - part of the Doctor field 1 Surgery Road, Nottingham
surgery_phone Surgery phone number - part of the Doctor field 0115 496 0550
medical will be imported into the Medical field Has a serious nut allergy.
medical_short will be imported into the Medical (Short) field Nut allergy
special_needs will be imported into the Special Needs field
parent_additional_mobile will be imported into the Additional Mobile field (additional parent/guardian mobile number)
parent_additional_email will be imported into the Additional Email field
info will be imported into the Additional Info field Additional Information
school will be imported into the School field Town Primary School
notes will be imported into the Notes field
tags will be imported into the Tags field Member, Tuesday Club
keydate will be imported into the Key Date field Name in CSV header, Date in row
receive_email will be imported into the Receive Emails? field 1 OR 0 (Yes OR No)
receive_sms will be imported into the Receive SMS? field 1 OR 0 (Yes OR No)
consent_use_internal will be imported into the Internal Use Consent? field 1 OR Yes OR True (Allow), 0 OR No OR False (Refuse)
consent_use_external will be imported into the External Use Consent? field 1 OR Yes OR True (Allow), 0 OR No OR False (Refuse)
group will be imported into the Group field unique name for group
site will be imported into the Site field Site name (if applicable)
custom1 - custom10 will be imported into the Custom 1-10 fields

Still need help? Contact ChurchSuite Contact ChurchSuite