Using import templates

Standardise the way your data flows into Beacon from multiple different sources

Updated over a week ago

Watch this video to give you a quick overview of importing into Beacon: Importing in 60 seconds!

Beacon's import templates lets you standardise how your data flows into Beacon.

For example, if you're like most nonprofits, you're probably taking donations in at least 5 different places, like:

  • JustGiving

  • Facebook

  • PayPal Giving

  • Donr

  • Your website

  • Bank transfers

The records of each of the above are stored in separate places, and have different reporting formats. Import templates make it straightforward to import from all of these places - so you can store and report on all of your data in one secure place.

Creating an import template

In this example, let's say we're importing a spreadsheet that contains a list of people, including their names & email addresses.

Watch our importing guide video, or follow the steps below:

1 ) To create your first import template, go to Import data > Manage templates.

2 ) Click Create template, name your template, and select People. For now, we'll create a blank template. Click Create.

3 ) We now need to configure how your CSV files should flow into Beacon. To do this, you'll need to upload a sample spreadsheet.

Tip: Your sample CSV might or might not be the final spreadsheet of data that you're going to upload - as long as the format is the same!


4 ) After you upload, Beacon automatically reads the file and shows a preview of the file, including the first few rows of data.

5 ) We now need to configure the "field mappings": Telling Beacon where each column should go when imported. For each of the columns you'd like to import into Beacon, click the column heading, and pick the field that it should correspond to:

Note: You don't need to map every column; Beacon will ignore any columns that aren't mapped.

6 ) (Optional) You'll see that it's possible to add "Ignore values". Sometimes columns contain values that you don't want to import into the database (e.g. "Anonymous"), add any of those values here, if required.

7 ) You don't have to import all of the rows in your spreadsheet. You can specify some conditions in the skip rows section and rows that meet any of those criteria will be skipped.

8 ) You can also define some fixed data in your template - data that should be set on every single record that's created. For example, if you're importing a list of donors, you might want to set the following:

9 ) Last but not least, you can configure the deduplication settings. These settings are very important as they tell Beacon how to detect whether a row should update an existing record, or create a new one.

For each different type of record that your template can create you can choose which field to use as the deduplication field. You can also tell Beacon what to do when a duplicate is found. Create or update is the most common option, and it will create a new record if one doesn't exist or update an existing record if it matches.

When importing people, we recommend using the email address to detect duplicates, so let's select email for the people records here:

Tip: Don't see the email field in the dropdown? You probably haven't picked a column that maps to the email address. Try that first!

10 ) Save your template. You'll see it's now available on the Import data > Run import page!

Template library

Tip: Beacon has a growing number of pre-built "library" templates. These aren't special - they're just a set of CSV formats from widely-used platforms like JustGiving or Facebook.

When creating a new template, instead of creating a blank template, choose one from the library.

If you create a template from the library, you'll see that Beacon has uploaded a sample CSV file for you, and pre-set the following:

  • Field mappings

  • Fixed data

  • Duplicate settings

After creating, feel free to change settings in the template as appropriate!

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