Importing data into GoDoChurch

Importing data into GoDoChurch

Please note, we are currently offering the importing of your preexisting data as a free service to our clients. We want to get you up-and-running as quickly as possible, so if you are new to GoDoChurch and want to import your existing data please contact us at We would be more than happy to help. 

This tutorial will show you how to import data into your database from a CSV file.


Pause for a moment


If you are new to GoDoChurch and have some kind of a pre-existing database (in MS Excel, for example) then you are probably wanting to get going as quickly as possible and import that data into GoDoChurch.


The good news is it is easy to import your data. But this is also an important step, so we urge you to pause for a moment and think this through thoroughly. For GoDoChurch to work well it needs good data! Duplicates are bad; wrong email addresses are bad; not having a cell number for someone means the SMS features won't work for that congregant, etc.


Before you import your data you need to ask five things:

1) Is our data up-to-date?

If you are worried your data is out of date then perhaps now is the right time to start from scratch. Why not do a “Capture everyone's info” day at church and upload that new data into GoDoChurch?

2) Do we have duplicates in our data?

If your database has been around for some time then it is very likely you have quite a few duplicates. Now is the time to weed these out. It will be worth the effort.

3) Do we have enough info about our members/congregants?

By enough info we mean: do you have an email address and cell number for each person in your church? Having this info is important for two reasons: a) GoDoChurch relies on cell numbers to send SMSes, and email addresses to send emails, follow up notifications, and many other things. Ideally, you want to have both the email and cell number of your congregants.


But there is another reason this info is important. GoDoChurch needs a way to tell your congregants apart. By default, the system uses the unique email address (and last name) of a profile to identify them (just like Google, Facebook, etc.). This default setting means you will not be able to add people to your database if they do not have an email address.


Having said that, we realize not every church context has congregants who all have email. Because of this, we have given our churches the option to disable email as a requirement for entering people into the system (you can access this setting in your database settings). When 'Require email' is deactivated the system will then use a person's last name and cell number to check for duplicates. 


Here is the main point you need to grasp: you need to decide now, before you upload your data into GoDoChurch, which option best suits your context. Do most of your congregants have access to email? Then we suggest leaving the default settings as is and make the effort to gather everyone's email address before uploading your data into GoDoChurch. If, however you feel this would exclude too many people from your database, then you can disable 'Require email' in your settings. Here is how: Open the main menu in GoDoChurch. Click Settings >> General. Un-tick the box that says 'Require people to have an email address'.

One last point worth mentioning: Quite a few husbands and wives will share an email address. This poses a problem for GoDoChurch since (by default) it uses last names and email addresses to tell people apart. The only way to add a couple to GoDoChurch who share an email address is to a) turn off 'require email' in your settings, and b) the husband and wife need to have different contact numbers. If they share a contact number AND an email AND a last name, unfortunately, you will only be able to add one of them to the system.


4) Is importing data the route we want to take?

There are a number of ways to enter data into GoDoChurch. Importing is just one of them. Here are your options:


  1. Manually add people, one at a time. - This option is great if you don't have too many people. It allows you to comb over your data once again and make sure it's correct.

  2. Import data from a CSV file - When you have lots of people you need to add then this is the route to take.

  3. Have your congregation use the mobile app to add themselves to your database. - We do not recommend churches new to GoDoChurch use this option. Only use this route when a) your database is running really well, and b) you have thought through how to out-roll the app in your context.

5) Do we want to import all our data in bulk and organise it later, or do we want to import some pre-existing lists, one at a time?

If you are a large church you probably have pre-existing lists that you would like to import. For example, you may have a list of leaders that you would like to add to a list in GoDoChurch called 'Leaders'. GoDoChurch allows you to import these kinds of lists, one at a time, and add them to a pre-existing list in GoDoChurch. If you would like to go this route then please read the section below titled: 'Step 4: Adding your data to a List.'

Unfortunately, we don't offer this feature for groups. This means you will first need to add people to your database and then organise them into their groups afterwards.

If you are a small-to-medium sized church then we recommend simply importing all your data in bulk and sorting people into the correct lists and groups afterwards.

Limitations of what we can import


It is important to understand the limitations of what we are able to import into GoDoChurch: Each profile in GoDoChurch has a set of fields that you are able to populate. These fields cannot be changed, nor can you add your own custom fields. If your current data has fields not included in GoDoChurch you will not be able to import that information.

Here is your checklist:


1) We have up-to-date data.
2) We have weeded out duplicates.
3) We have decided to make/not make email a requirement based on our context, and, based on this decision, have enough info about our congregants. 
4) We have decided that importing data (rather than adding them one at a time) is the correct route to take.
5) We have thought through whether we want to import all our data in bulk or whether we have pre-existing lists we would like to import, one at a time.


All done? Great, then you are ready to import your data.

Step 1: Preparing your data


NB: You cannot skip this step! For GoDoChurch to be able to upload your data three things need to be correct: 1) the order of the columns, 2) the format of the columns, and 3) the content of the columns.

1) Getting the order of the columns right

  • The order of the columns needs to be exactly right.

  • Click here to download an empty excel file with the correct column order and formatting. You can simply copy and paste your data into this excel sheet. (Note: clicking the link will open a blank tab in your browser. Check your downloads folder to find the file).

  • Click here to view in Google Drive an empty Excel file with the correct column order and formatting. (Note: you will need to copy the columns layout from this file as it is a read-only file).

  • It is important to understand that even if a column is empty you need to include it in the file. You cannot delete any of these columns. If you don't have any data for a specific column just leave it blank.  

2) Getting the formatting right


  • Each column in the file needs to be in a text format (as opposed to a number, date, or currency format). 

  • The file needs to be saved as a CSV file. To do this click 'save as' in your document editor and select 'CSV' under file type.

  • Pay special attention to the format of the birthday and anniversary fields. The format is ddmmyyyy. No spaces. No forward slashes. And if the date begins with the numbers 1 - 9, it needs to include the zero at the very front. So 09101978 is correct but 9101978 is incorrect. Cell phone numbers also need to include the zero at the start. So 0723334444 is correct. But 723334444 is incorrect.

  • The correct formatting for the marital status column is one of the following options: Married, Divorced, Single, Widow, Widower.

  • The correct formatting for Male or Female column is M or F.

3) Getting the content right

  • There are certain columns that must have data in them before GoDoChurch can import that profile. Which columns are required depends on whether you have chosen to either enable or disable the 'require email' setting. If 'require email' is on (this is the default setting), then the following columns are required: first name, last name, and email address. Any contacts in your database without this info will not be uploaded.

  • If 'require email' is off (i.e you have changed the default setting), then the following columns are required: first name, last name, mobile number.

Step 2: Importing your file


  • Open the Import Database module by clicking Database >> Import Database on the main menu.

  • Click Import New File and select the CSV file you would like to upload. NB. Note: If the file has no errors or warnings it will be uploaded automatically, so make sure everything is in order.

  • Once you have selected the file it will be uploaded. This may take some time depending on the size of the file you are uploading. In order to see the file in the file list you need to click Refresh File List.


Step 3: Check for errors or warnings

  • GoDoChurch automatically checks your file for errors or missing info. 

  • If your file has no errors or warnings it will be uploaded automatically showing the message "Your file has been imported successfully."

  • You can view your imports by clicking More >> View Imports.

  • If you data was imported successfully jump down to 'Step 4' below.

  • If your file had errors or warnings the file will not be imported. You will need to fix or indicate that you wish to ignore the warnings before you can import the data.

There are two types of errors or warnings that can occur:

1) Errors


  • These are show-stoppers. A file will not be able to move on to the import stage if there are these kinds of errors.

  • You can view these errors by clicking More >> View Errors.

  • You will then see the records that caused the errors and the reason.

  • You can either delete these records from the file by clicking Delete, or delete the entire file, fix the errors in the original file, and then re-import it.

2) Warnings

  • These kinds of errors are not show-stoppers. The file can still be imported with these errors present. These are generally errors relating to data in an incorrect format. Note: If you choose to go ahead and import your data without fixing the warnings then those fields that are in the wrong format will not be imported.

  • You can view these errors by clicking More >> View Warnings

  • At the moment the only way to fix these warnings is to delete the file, fix the errors in the original CSV file, and then upload it once again.


Step 4: Adding your data to a list


Once you have imported your data you have the option of adding the info on the imported file to a list in GoDoChurch. This is very useful if you have, for example, a pre-existing list of members, or a list of everyone in your worship ministry, who you would like to add to a "Members List" or a "Worship Ministry" list in GoDoChurch.

To add imported data to a list:

  • Click More >> Assign to List

  • Then select the list to which you would like to add the data.

Please note the following important things:

  • The list needs to exist in GoDoChurch before you can add info to it. 

  • You cannot add parts of a file you are importing to a list. It's either the whole file, or nothing. This means if you want to use the feature of syncing imports with lists as a way of preserving pre-existing lists, you will need to import these lists one at a time. 

  • Adding people to a list this way does not over-write the list. It simply adds people to the list. So if the list had 5 people in it, and you add 5 more, it will have 10 in it afterwards.

  • If you import a profile into GoDoChurch that already exists in your system, GoDoChurch will not update info about the person. All the system will do is add info that was not previously there. For example, if the profile had no birthdate but the imported data does, this info will be added to the profile. NB: this means you cannot use the import feature to update profiles in GoDoChurch

Adding new imports to a list using the Search module


If you would prefer not to add people to a list using the list sync feature there is one other approach available to you: you can add people to a list using the Search module

To add data to a custom list using search:

  • Import whatever data you would like to into GoDoChurch.

  • Open the Search module from the main menu: Database >> Search People.

  • Search for the set of people you want to add to a list. For example, if you want to add all the men to a 'Men's Ministry' list then search for all the men by clicking More and then selecting 'M' from the Gender drop down list.

  • Click Search

  • Next, click the Selected People button and then click Select all. This will select everyone in your search.

  • Click Selected People again and then click Sync list. A pop up will appear allowing you to choose which list you would like to sync.

  • Select the list and click Sync.

  • Note: there is a check box that allows you to reset the list. If you select this all previous records in that list will be removed and it will be repopulated with your current selection.


Other useful info


  • When a record is imported, if a matching profile is found, the info being imported will be added to that profile. If that matched profile already has information stored in it that information will NOT be overwritten. Only fields which are empty will be populated. This means you cannot simply import an updated set of data in an attempt to update your database. 

  • You can import as many files as you like including the same file over again. Duplicate records will not be imported.

What is the next step after importing my data?

Once you have imported your data you will want to start organising it into lists. The three help files that explain how to do this are:


Correct file structure


NB: The image below explains the file structure. It is not a screenshot of what the file will look like when you open it.


Do you have feedback about the Importing database feature? We would love to hear from you! Email to share your thoughts.

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