Import and Bulk Update Custom Fields

Written by James Meyers

Last published at: September 20th, 2021


There are two ways to bring your external values for custom fields into CommunitySuite. The method that you will use will depend on your existing data. The first option is a bulk update for the custom fields within your site. This method is best utilized when you are adding custom fields to existing records where there is a lot of variability and the bulk answer option in custom reports does not fit well. The other option is adding custom fields to an import file. This is currently supported in the profile, fund and grant imports. 

Bulk Update

For our first example, we’re going to do a bulk update with prior names. For more detailed information on accessing custom field definitions, please refer to this article: Custom Fields Guide & Examples. For this example, we have included the field definition for the Prior Name field below:

The most important part of the field definition for any bulk updates is the Import Code field. For the Prior Name field, the import code is "pf_priorname." This is the value that will be utilized as a column header within the bulk update template. Once you have found all of the import codes that you need for your bulk update, you will need to access the Custom Field Objects menu.

This menu can be accessed from any page that has custom fields. For this example, the Custom Field Objects menu is located by going to Profiles, then Custom Fields. The Custom Field Objects page will show you the full list of pages available that have access to custom fields. In the left hand menu for this page, the Import option will be visible. On the Import page, you will see the below options:

Yellow Warning - No Active Custom Fields with an Import Code

A yellow warning at the top of the page will display if the import type you have selected does not have any custom fields with import codes assigned to them. This can be remedied by either adding import codes to the custom fields within that import type or by selecting an import type that has custom fields with import codes. 

On this page, you will select the type of custom field that you are bulk updating. For the example above, that would be the profile type. Once the type has been selected, you can click Download Template to download a blank template for the bulk update. Within the empty template, the custom field import code for each custom field within the custom field type will automatically populate the top row of the spreadsheet. If you are not going to update any values within a particular custom field, it is fine to delete that column from the spreadsheet. Once your spreadsheet columns are ready to go, the next part is just adding the values. For example, with six different profiles with different prior names, your spreadsheet might look like this:

Once all of the data has been entered for the respective columns, you will save your template and return to the Custom Field Objects Import page. From there, you will select Choose File and upload your saved template file. Finally, select Process to have CommunitySuite process your template and upload your values into your custom fields. Depending on the amount of data that is being imported, this may take some time.

Import Data

If new records are being imported through one of the pages mentioned above, custom fields can be added to the end of the import template to fill in that data with all of the imported content. For this example, we will continue to work with the prior name custom field. Since this field is a profile-specific custom field, you will need to go to the Profiles page and select Import from the left menu. From that page, download the profile import template by clicking Download Template at the top of the example table. 

Once you are working within the template, all you need to do to fill out the custom field is to add the import code as a column header at the end of the document. For the Prior Name field, you would add the pf_priorname import code at the end of the spreadsheet as seen below:

Now, as you add data into the spreadsheet, you can input all of your values into the custom field column, and the data will be imported with the custom field filled out automatically. 

Filling Out the Template

A blank field will clear any values within the custom field for that id when bulk updating. If you are bulk importing any values into a multi-select field as part of new data or bulk updating data, the values need to be separated by a semicolon (e.g. "Crowley;Smith").