In Virtuous, Contacts may be merged in the Data Health center by heading to the navigation menu on the left and selecting the Data Health Tool. If you do not see the Data Health option in the menu, ask your system administrator, as you may have restricted permissions.
On the Data Health screen, you'll see several tabs near the top of the screen. The first — and default — option will be "Merge Contacts."
Once you are viewing the merge tab, there are essentially two ways to identify and merge duplicate records.
Let Virtuous Identify Them For You
On the Merge Contacts screen, look for the Actions button in the upper right. Click, and then select "Find Duplicates" to start an automatic search for any possible duplicates in the system. Potential duplicates will be identified based on matches by name, address, phone, or email.
Depending on the number of records in your database, it may take some time to see results. The duplicate search will continue running in the background while you complete other work in Virtuous.
Once the search is complete, the Merge Contacts screen will list all possible duplicates in your system. Click on the arrow to the left of any record to see possible duplicates listed below, and then click on "Compare" to select a duplicate and access the merge screen.
If there are possible duplicates listed, but it has been some time since you last searched for duplicates, it is recommended that you click on the Actions button and then select "Refresh Duplicates." This will clear your previous duplicate results and then re-run a search to identify potential duplicates. Clearing old results is especially important if you have made changes to your data, as this can eliminate false positives based on out-of-date Contact information.
If you already have possible duplicates listed and you do NOT want to clear any of them, you can also select "Find Duplicates" again to search for any additional possible duplicates and add them to the existing list for review.
Don't Know Where to Begin? Use Filters!
After finding and/or refreshing, you may end up seeing an overwhelming list. Using Filters can help you sort through and prioritize the records you need to tackle. Two parameters in particular might be helpful:
- Match Date - when Virtuous has flagged record(s) as duplicate(s)
- Match Qualifier - the specific field that has led Virtuous to flag record(s) as duplicate(s) (address, phone, or email)
For example: If you want to start with all of the potential duplicates, based on matching addresses, identified in the last 30 days, you could use the following parameters:
Manually Merge Two Contacts
While Virtuous can identify potential duplicates, sometimes you may identify duplicate records in the system and wish to merge them right away. In these cases, make note of the Contact IDs for each of the two records you wish to merge. Then, navigate to the Merge Contacts screen, click on Actions, and select "Manually Merge Contacts" from the list of options.
This will bring up the Manual Merge form. Enter the two Contact IDs for the two records you wish to merge, and then click "Compare."
Time to Get Merging
Regardless of the method used to identify duplicates. Once you have clicked the "Compare" button, you will be taken to the merge dialog box.
First, using the radio buttons at the top of the form, select the correct Contact ID to be preserved. When merging Contacts, one Contact ID will be preserved, and the other will be archived.
After selecting a Contact, then carefully review the items with checkboxes. Users have the option of preserving any Individuals and including them in the new, merged record. In the case of duplicate Individuals, it is generally best to choose whichever Individual has more associated Contact Methods. In addition to selecting Individuals, users will also have the option to preserve any addresses included with either Contact.
Data listed on the right side of each record, including any Notes, Tags, and Gifts, will automatically be merged into the new, combined record.
Bulk Merge Contacts
If you want to merge multiple pairs of Contacts at once, you can select a file to bulk merge Contacts. Click on the Actions menu and then select the option to “Bulk Merge Contacts.”
From there, you can select your CSV file with the pairs you want to merge listed. You will also be able to see the template to use when creating your file to bulk merge. From that template, the Source Contact ID is going to be merged into the Destination Contact ID.
When using this feature, there are a couple things to keep in mind:
- For each record pair in your file, ALL Individuals, Addresses, Custom Fields, Contact Methods, Notes, Tags, and Gifts will automatically be merged into a single combined record.
- Values in the Destination Contact overwrite values (particularly for Custom Fields) from the Source Contact. In other words, if both Contacts have different values for a Custom Field, then the value on the Destination Contact (not the Source Contact) stays.
With these things in mind, we recommend that only admin users use this tool, especially because...
MERGES CANNOT BE UNDONE.
Ignoring Potential Matches
When using the Virtuous duplicate search, it is possible that two records that are not duplicates may be flagged as potential duplicates. In these cases, from the merge dialog box, click the red "Ignore" button.
Clicking "Ignore" ensures that Virtuous will not show a particular pairing as potential duplicates again. This means that, over time, the accuracy of the duplicate search should improve.
Reviewing Ignored Matches
If you are concerned that you may have ignored a possible match in error, or simply want to know which suggested matches have been ignored, you can click on the Actions menu and then select the option to "View Ignored Matches."
This will bring up a list of all matches that have been ignored. Matches are identified as Contact ID pairs, but you can also use the search field in the upper right to search for a particular name. Each ignored match will also include the date when it was marked as "Ignore," and the email address of the user who took the action.
To merge two Contacts that were previously flagged as ignored, make note of the Contact IDs and then follow the steps above for manually merging Contacts.