Managing Duplicate Contacts

No matter how many controls we put into place to prevent duplicate contact creation, inevitably we always end up with a few, especially when website traffic volume has been high. As such, best practices for managing contacts include a periodic review and merging of duplicate contacts (especially after a big event or fundraising campaign). CiviCRM is equipped with several features that help prevent duplicate contact creation. Some attempt to avoid the duplicate contact from being created, others help you to search, identify and Merge duplicate contacts found in your database. These features (detailed below), use rules that are split between the ones that act "automatically" (known as Unsupervised), and those that act manually (known as Supervised):

  • Scanning your database for duplicates using a selected Dedupe Rule and Merging duplicate contact data as needed
  • Manually selecting two contacts from search results and then merging these contacts on a Case-by-Case basis
  • Automatically scanning your database and suggesting duplicates when contacts are added or edited via the back-office user interface (if none of the suggested contacts are duplicates, you can click to Save Matching Contact)
  • Automatically merging a person's details into an existing contact identified as a Duplicate Match when a person registers for an Event, signs up for Membership, makes a Contribution or fills out a Profile online
  • Automatically merging a person's details into an existing contact when Importing Contacts

When doing a search, you notice that a particular contact has more than one contact record:

  1. Go to Search > Find Contacts 
  2. Enter the last name or email of the contact in the top box and click Search 
  3. Choose the contact records you wish to merge by toggling the checkbox to the left-hand side
  4. From the Actions drop-down, click to select Merge Contacts 
  5. The most recently created contact is assumed to be the duplicate record - you can Flip between original and duplicate contacts if this is not the case
  6. Choose the fields to merge and click Merge
  7. Once the merge has been completed, the duplicate contact will be moved to Trash