Using the new CSV import tool to work with even more data!

2014-11-12 15:59
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CiviCRM has had an array of powerful import tools for as long as I can remember but the availble options have been limited. Contacts, Contributions, Participants, Memberships and Activities...sure....but what about the Events themselves? Sorry. What about Grants? Nope.

Enter the API CSV import GUI extension, created by awesome community member Eileen McNaughton! That's a whole lot of acronyms, but basically what it allows you to do is import potentially any entity into Civi. Grants? Yes. Events? Yes. Cases? Yes! Pledges? Why not?

Translations: For those that don't know, CSV is a common, simplified spreadsheet format that can be opened using Excel, Libre Office, etc. API is some programmer-speak and GUI just means you can point and click.

I recently used this tool to import over 4,000 Grants for McKenzie River Gathering, a community supported foundation providing nearly half a million dollars a year to support innovative organizing work in Oregon addressing racism, poverty, inequity, and environmental destruction.

Simply put, this powerful new tool can turn a backlog of complex spreadsheets into a fully realized CiviCRM more easily than ever before. If you have some old data lying around the office and a mind for the technical, read on...otherwise contact a helpful provider to give you a hand.

Here's some technical tips from my experience that may be helpful.

1. Make backups before, during and after any import process

2. Learn how to install extensions

3. Some entity fields are required during import, so do some "test runs" to learn which

4. Sometimes you need to import the field value or id, not the label (i.e. "2" instead of "Pending")

5. You can supplement your efforts with clever queries using PHPMyAdmin

6. This CSV GUI import tool can be used to insert new data as well as update existing data

7. If you need to import specific id numbers rather than rely on Civi's auto-increment, import blank data first with id# and bogus data such as "Grant Type" = 0.  Then backfill this data later with and update and delete the unused rows that are still blank.


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"Enter the API CSV import GUI extension, created by awesome community member Eileen McNaughton! That's a whole lot of acronyms"

Eileen isn't an acronym - she is a real person. Though I may think up a prize for the best offering for an acronym for her - but not on this thread!

Nice work getting this out.