Combine Contacts Tool


  • The Combine Contacts Tool allows you to combine separate Contact records into a single record.
  • The tool is only available on the Contacts page.
  • The tool can be launched from a selection of two or more records (to combine the selected records), from an open record (to review only Contact record duplicates), or without a selection (to combine whatever records the system or other users identified as possible duplicates).
  • The tool can be used even if there aren't duplicate Contacts, but rather there are duplicate Participant or Donor records associated with one Contact record.
  • It's recommended that a SPoC regularly use the Combine Contacts Tool to keep data clean.
  • Records that are combined are not Audit Logged. However, prior ID values are captured in the Contact Identifier Log.
  • SPoCs can grant user access to this tool via Security Roles and Tool permissions.

Video Topics: Combine Contacts

0:25 - Launching the tool from a selection
2:18 - Using the tool to cleanup the database
3:15 - Launching the tool from an open record
5:01 - Launching the tool without making a selection

Combining Contacts

  1. Launch the tool by either:
    • Going to Contacts > Tools > Combine Contacts > choose a name in the Selected Records drop-down (this process will allow you to combine Contacts marked as "Duplicate Of" or identified by the Duplicate Finder routine), OR
    • Going to Contacts > select two or more duplicate records > Tools > Combine Contacts, OR
    • Going to Contacts > open desired Contact record > Tools > Combine Contacts.
  2. Review the records to be combined. Note that the tool will only display selection options for standard database fields, and will not include any custom fields.
    • If needed, check the box for any additional Contacts that "will be merged" that might be grayed out. Note that if the column for a Contact is grayed out and not selected, it will not be part of the combine action.
    • If desired, change the Contact to Keep by selecting the alternate radio button.
    • If you prefer information to be kept other than what's included in the Contact to Keep, simply choose the alternate radio button.
  3. Click Merge.
    • As a part of this process, any Participant and Donor Notes are combined into the surviving record. The tool automatically truncates values that exceed the default field length.

Handling Contacts that aren't actually duplicates

Occasionally the system or a user may incorrectly identify records as duplicates (e.g., father and adult son have the same name). You can remedy this situation by indicating the records as similar records, which will indicate to the system and other users that these records can be ignored as possible duplicates.

If this situation is found while using the Combine Contacts Tool:

  1. Click Add Relationship 
  2. Choose the "Similar Records" relationship
  3. Indicate a second Contact
  4. Click Add Relationship
  5. Close the tool.

You can also help preemptively by adding a "Similar Records" relationship as soon as you become aware of the records (so they never even get caught by the system or other users as a possible duplicate).

To do so:

  1. Open one of the Contact records
  2. Go to the Relationships sub-page
  3. Click New
  4. Choose the "Similar Records" relationship
  5. Indicate the appropriate Related Contact
  6. Click Save.

Handling Contacts that have "APIUser (Do Not Edit)" in the Audit Log

Sometimes duplicate records are created as a result of someone creating a Portal account. Any record created by the Portal will indicate the user "APIUser (Do Not Edit)" in the Audit Log. It is OK for you to use the Combine Contacts Tool on these duplicate records. The "Do Not Edit" notation is simply letting you know that the APIUser record itself should not be edited (but records created by the APIUser can be edited).


The following scenarios can cause the tool to freeze or not work properly:

  • One of the email addresses is invalid and/or has a comma in it
  • The Users are part of the same User Group
  • The Users are in the same security role
  • The Users have an Identity record with the same Provider Name.

If this occurs, edit one of the records so the above scenarios are no longer true and run the tool again.

Handling Contacts that were accidentally combined

Deleted data is not stored anywhere. If Contacts are accidentally combined, the only way to retrieve the information is for a SPoC or Professional Services to restore a database backup from before the merge took place. You should act on this quickly since backups may be limited to a recent timeframe (depending on your backup strategy, this could be as little as 2 weeks).

Keywords: Duplicates, Combine Duplicates, Duplicate of Relationship, Duplicate Contacts

Tags: Video

Last Modified: 8/23/2019

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