In This Article:

    Deduplicate Supporters

    In This Article:

      Deduplicate Supporters


      When To Use It

      Deduplication keeps your database tidy by smushing doubled- and tripled-up supporter entries into a single record.

      How To Get There

      Deduplication gives you two ways to search up possible duplicates for merging.

      1. Scanning your entire database for suspected duplicates to combine on either an individual or a batch basis
      2. Searching for specific records you've already identified (outside of the feature) as duplicates

      Both of these options are available in the Supporter Package.


      Why Are There Duplicates At All?

      In general, Salsa's intake points -- forms that supporters complete; imports that you run -- will attempt to identify incoming supporters by their email addresses and write new information about an existing supporter to that existing record.

      Unfortunately, this sort of thing is never perfect, and any database is likely to pick up some duplicate entries over time. These might result from:

      • An email address is misspelled
      • A record is entered without any email address
      • The record is imported with duplicate-matching switched off
      • An existing supporter record has been edited to change its email to an address that happens to match a different record. (Editing a record already in Salsa does not cue Salsa to search for any possible existing matches.)

      What if a supporter signs up with two or more completely different email addresses? Salsa is strongly oriented around sending Email Blasts; a supporter record is, in a sense, an email subscription. Sometimes a supporter actually does want to subscribe in multiple inboxes! We suggest leaving these two different email addresses un-merged: the software does not currently have a feature to link two different email addresses' subscription preferences to a single overarching identity.

      You always have the option to outright delete supporter records that you do not want anymore, but the deduplication tool will allow you to merge duplicate records ... and by merging, to retain the custom field data, donation and action history, contact records, groups, tags, chapters, and other information associated with the duplicate record.

      Deduplication Parameters

      When you click on the link labeled Deduplicate Supporters under the Supporter Management tab, you are taken to a page that gives you two options for deduplicating your list.

      1. The upper box allows you to scan your entire database for suspected duplicates to combine on either an individual or a batch basis
      2. The lower box helps you search for specific records you already know you want to merge


      Each search -- using either tool -- will present you the records that Salsa thinks you might want to combine, but the search alone does not modify these records in any way: it will then be up to you to confirm the merge with your selections on a subsequent screen.

      Deduplication is a one-way door. It cannot be undone. Once two records are merged, the surviving record cannot be "dialed back" to its pre-merge condition, nor can any data that was overwritten during the merge be retrieved.

      Option 1:  Select fields to deduplicate on (i.e., scan your entire database)

      To get started, select any combination of these fields (hold down CTRL on a PC, or Command on a Mac, to multi-select) to search for suspected duplicates. We suggest trying different search parameters in different deduplication "passes" to catch as many duplicates as possible.

      • Email
      • First Name
      • Last Name
      • Street
      • City
      • State
      • Zip
      • UID
      • Phone


      Then, choose the number of possible duplicate sets you want to work with, and choose a deduplication type -- either

      • Individual deduplication (you'll click separate "merge" buttons for every different duplicate set); or,
      • Batch deduplication (you'll click a single "merge" button to combine all sets at once)

      Once you've set all the knobs and dials, click to see what Salsa searched up.

      Option 2:  Search for supporters to deduplicate (i.e., target some specific records you've already found that need merging)

      Here Salsa assumes that you already have an idea of two records that you want to merge. Perhaps you've run across them accidentally on the supporter list, or you've heard from the supporter that they're receiving a double email subscription.

      You'll be presented two different sets of supporter fields to search out the two records you intend to merge using

      • Supporter KEY
      • First Name
      • Last Name
      • Email
      • Street
      • City
      • State
      • Zip


      Next, click to see the records Salsa has identified, and proceed to the Duplicate Report step where you will complete the merging.

      Duplicate Report

      Regardless of how you searched in the first step of the deduplication process, you'll next be shown sets of suspected duplicates. Each set contains the following information about each of its constituent supporter records:

          • ID - The Supporter KEY for the individual record. Click this number to navigate to the full supporter record, if you need to investigate the duplicate candidate further before proceeding.
          • Information - Summary overview information for the supporter, including Name, Address, Email, Phone, Receive Email Status, and Chapter.
          • Last Modified - Date this supporter record was last modified.


      For each suspected duplicate in the set, you have the option to designate it in one of three categories for the merge:

          • A primary record will be considered the most important record in the merge; other records will merge into the primary, but the primary record's data will not be deleted or overwritten. There can be only one primary record per set.
          • One or more secondary records will be combined into the primary record. Secondary records' data from this record will not overwrite data in the primary record, but any additional data in the secondary record that is not contained in the primary will be appended to the primary record. All donations, tags, group and chapter affiliations, contact history (including email opens and clicks), action, and event history in the secondary record will also be reassigned to the primary record.
          • A record set to ignore will not be combined in the merge process at all.

      To merge a set of suspected duplicates, set the Options for the primary, secondary, and ignored records and click

      The records will be merged, and the page will be refreshed without these duplicate records included in the report.

      A note about addresses:  

      The merge process will not create additional physical/mailing addresses against the Primary record.  It's often assumed that the Secondary record's address will be appended to the Primary record as an additional address, but that's not the case.  

      If the Secondary record has an 'Alternative Email' address, and the Primary record's 'Alternative Email' address field is blank, then that email address will be inserted into the Primary record's 'Alternative Email' field.  

      If the Secondary record does NOT have an 'Alternative Email' address, then the merge will check to see if the Secondary record has a main Email address which differs from the Primary record's Email address.  If so, and the Primary record's 'Alternative Email' field is empty, then the merge will insert the Secondary record's main Email address into the Primary record's 'Alternative Email' field.

      Merging Duplicate Records from Inside a Supporter Record

      Outside of the Deduplicate Supporters navigation menu option, you also have the option to initiate deduplication while viewing any individual supporter record.

      To do so, click Find duplicates in the supporter profile.


      You'll be immediately directed to the Search for supporters to deduplicate from (with the supporter record's data already pre-populated). For the second record, enter as much of the following data as you have, and proceed with a normal merge process from there.



      Reversing The Merge Process

      Unfortunately, there is no way to undo a merge. Once the deduplication tool has merged two (or more) records, Salsa does not keep the secondary record(s).  Since all of the data has been merged into a single record, there is no data to restore from.

      Was this article helpful?
      0 out of 0 found this helpful
      Have more questions? Submit a request


      • Is there not a way to use the supporter's phone number as the deduplication field? We have supporters who often sign in at events with their name and phone number and I need to be able to connect the supporter record created by such sign-ins with the supporter record that has their email.

      • Hi John-Michael, 

        Although the deduplication tool doesn't allow for "phone" as a condition, you can deduplicate on the "phone" field using the Import tool. Check out that documentation, especially the deduplication/syncing section. Your basic steps would be:

        1. Back up your supporter list before you make any big imports! (Make an export of it.)
        2. Make sure your phone numbers are all standardized in the spreadsheet (and your existing supporter list as well) that you are importing. (Remember to make sure to save your spreadsheet in tab-delimited text format, rather than Excel .xls.) This is to make sure that duplicates don't show up between (555)555-5555 and 555-555-5555 because of the different formats. Here's an example of how to do that standardization in Excel.
        3. Import your list of new supporters. On the second step of your import, select the phone field for deduplication, and double check you have the correct settings for overwriting/updating information.
        4. You should be set!

        A few extra steps but in the long run, doing deduplication at the Import stage will likely save you time in your process.

        If you have further questions about the steps described above, please contact

      • In the case of an accidental merge between two accounts that are not duplicates, is there a way to undo the merge?

      • Bethany - unfortunately not, unless you had created a backup of your list in the recent past. Once two records have been merged, it cannot be undone.

      • Is there a way to batch several hundred duplicates? i have a much more sophisticated system for deduplicating our supporters out of Access. And I can generate a spreadsheet with SupporterKey1, SupporterKey2, and a column that indicates which is the primary. While I can do a mass import to the supporter table, the benefit of your built-in deduplicator is that it updates the Supporter Key in other associated tables like Donation, Contact History, and Supporter Email Statistics. Otherwise I'm forced to do several imports to multiple tables to maintain proper history. That, or enter each combination one at a time into the built-in de-duplicator. Basically, I want to be able to query multiple duplicates by Supporter Key, tell the system which is the primary, and have your built-in program do the work. Even as I'm writing this I feel I know that it won't be possible.

      • Hi David, 

        You can do some larger batches of deduplication through a link edit: after you've selected the fields (email, name, etc.) and type (batch) and clicked the "retrieve duplicate records" button, you can grab the URL from that page and do some rejiggering to increase the limit:

        Changing the bolded section to a number higher than Salsa's UI limit (50) is totally possible.


        However, regarding your specific question, what you have envisioned is not possible. It seems like you have a very specific idea of what you'd like to see, so I would please encourage you to write up a feature request in that forum:

        Our developers are sometimes a step or two removed from the end-user, so your direct input on improving the deduplication tool would be really helpful.

      • So if I'm correct, after making a record secondary, the email address associated with that record becomes an alternate email address. What I'm wondering though, is if the secondary email address would still receive an email when a blast is sent out?

      • Email addresses other than the primary will not receive a blast. For that reason, it's important to check the "Receive Email" value when merging duplicates: if it's a positive number, that address is still subscribed; a 0 or negative number means the address is unsubscribed. 

      • Our chapters manage their own supporter lists within Salsa and when they try to dedup their own lists, they get a message saying that chapter administrators can't dedup.

        Is there any way I can enable this capability for them? 

      • Hi Coby,

        Unfortunately deduping at the chapter level isn't an option since when the dedupe process occurs the duplicate gets deleted (merged) and since chapters share supporters they don't have the option to actually delete supporters. In order to deduplicate someone with access to the main organization will have to run the process.

        Hope that helps clarify!


      • Thanks Nick.

        Follow up question - When I, as an administrator of the main organization, run a batch deduplication, can I select only for supporters in a certain chapter?

      • Hi Coby,

        We don't have a default way of isolating chapters but this can be done utilizing group restrictions and roles/permissions. The explanation for how to accomplish this is a bit long so if you could submit a ticket to that would be great. I will be happy to go into details once we receive it.


      • I have been going through these 50 at a time, and ignoring quite a lot of them. I now find that the ignores have accumulated at the top of the screen, and my batch of 50 has about 5 records. How do I get those ignores to go away?

      • Hi Nicholas,

        Unfortunately this is an issue that we are working to resolve. Our developers have been made aware of the need for the database to 'remember' those Ignores in the future so they don't show up in future deduplication reports. We'll update everyone once a solution has been developed.

      • Thanks for letting me know. And please ask the developers to work on this issue. I now have hundreds of records I won't be able to duplicate because of all of the ignores. It severely diminishes the effectiveness of the deduplication tool.

      • My question is, what if the Primary record has all the correct information except for the new email address, which is on the secondary record.  We want to keep the primary info but need the new email.  Is this a case of having to enter new email manually and deleting second record?



      • Is there any update on "remembering the Ignored records"?

      • Hi Mandy,

        If there is one email address in the primary record and a conflicting email address in the secondary record, only the email address in the primary record will be saved after deduplication.  You can use the deduplication report to find these users, but the clean-up would be manual (as you indicated) in this particular use case.

      • Hey Salsa Commons,

        I have a somewhat inverted deduplication question. We are a membership based organization with business memberships and household memberships which mean that sometimes, multiple people share the same email address on two different member profiles. I can have all these come up with a simple de-duplication, but if I were to merge them, I would be eliminating members from our database. Instead, I need to generate a separate and unique email for each person. Is there a way to export the list of duplicated emails along with name (first, last), and phone so that I could do some mail merging and phoning to reach out to the members-who-share-an-email so they can provide those additional emails and thus, prevent duplication? Thanks!

      • Is there a way to go past the first 50 records that are shown in the deduplication tool?


      • Hi Faith,

        It's not the most elegant solution, but you can update the query string in the URL manually.  Just select 50 as the number or records and run the deduplication report as normal.  Then go into the URL and change the number 50 to 100 (or whatever you'd like) as shown.


      • I merged two records specifically to bring in a new second address for a supporter into the primary record for the supporter. The new address did not transfer into the primary record and now it is lost. 1) Why did the new address not get saved? The secondary record was set as secondary, not ignore. 2) Can we retrieve the address from the Salsa petition download, from the petition where we got the new data?


      Article is closed for comments.