How to Correctly Search for an Existing Database Record

The first thing we need to do when we want to add someone onto the database, or add some information about them, is to check carefully to see if they are already on the database so that we don’t create a duplicate record.

Duplicate records risk users missing crucial information about a constituent because they may be looking at a different version of information for that individual constituent.

To search for someone, use the search panel in the grey menu bar at the top of the database and click on the magnifying glass search icon. You can search by name, alias, email address, telephone number or constituent ID number. This is the same in the Outlook extension too.

Step 1: Click on the magnifying glass search icon

Step 2: Use the search bar to type your search words


Step 3: If searching by name, use their surname followed by a comma and first initial. Do not search by typing in the whole name – sometimes people have been entered with their nickname or a different version of their name (eg Liz or Beth instead of Elizabeth; Bob instead of Robert etc). Be aware of hyphenated or apostrophised surnames or first names too.


Remember that it is also possible to search by an alias name, an email address or telephone number, or even by the Constituent ID number, if known.

Be aware of aliasessome fundraising groups, small businesses or individuals are on the database under their group name but we might need to search for one of their individual names (or vice versa). An alias will help us to find the individuals connected to a group name or maybe a different name that an individual is known by.

Step 4: Remember to click on ‘View all results’ or ‘Search relationship records’ at the bottom of the search panel to expand the results, if required

Be aware of basic relationship records – an individual may exist on the database as a basic relationship name/address-only record and may not have a full constituent record. Basic relationship records won’t show up in a constituent search unless specifically selected to be included on the search results page.

In the example above, we can see there is only ONE Jones, Ler showing in the search list as having a constituent record, but if we click on Search relationship records at the bottom of the highlighted search results, it opens up a full Search Results page. When the option to Include relationship records is selected, we can now see from the screenshot below that TWO Jones, Ler records are actually available, clearly for the exact same person. One is a full constituent record, one is just a relationship record. If searching for relationship records had been included in the initial search, the relationship record could have been found, converted to a full constituent record, and a duplicate could have been avoided.


Duplicate records:

  • If there appear to be duplicate records for the same individual or organisation on the database, look at each record that you think relates to the same person and double-check that there really is a duplication
  • Make a note of the constituent ID number and the name shown on the record to be kept
    [Remember: the Constituent ID number is found in the Constituent Summary sub-section of a constituent’s record]
  • Also make note of the constituent ID number and the name shown on the record to be merged and deleted. Make note of which information needs to be retained including attachments, gifts, opportunities, email history, constituent codes, contact information, aliases etc.
  • Submit a Database Changes & Requests online form, completing the relevant sections for a Duplicate/Merge request. The Database Officer will look into it further and will merge and delete duplicate records, if required. Ensure that you provide details of BOTH constituent records (ID numbers and names) and clear instructions on which record and information you believe should be kept
  • Note: as soon as a record has been deleted, this cannot be undone!

Amending an Existing Record

If your search finds an existing record for your constituent, quickly glance over the record to check for The 6 Cs as identified in the previous lesson (An Overview of the NXT Database) and ensure that all of the minimum required fields have been completed and that all personal and contact information is accurate and up to date BEFORE you add any actions, relationships, opportunities, attachments or further information.

Whenever you have made changes to a record or added new consent information, ALWAYS add an Action to show that you have done so and to enable others to see what you have done, when and why, especially when it is a consent update (more information on adding actions and consents in later lessons).

Creating a New Record

When you have searched carefully for an existing record and are certain that a record for your constituent doesn’t already exist and that you won’t be creating a duplicate record, you can then go through the process of creating a new constituent record (covered in the next lesson).

Complete the interim quiz below.

Having successfully passed the quiz, you will then be able to move on to the next lesson.


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