Importing contacts and members

Video (5:57)

If you already have a list of members (or other contacts) in a spreadsheet, you can use it to import them into WildApricot. 

You can import a maximum of 15,000 contacts at a time.

You can also use a spreadsheet to update information for existing clients. For more information, see Bulk changes through importing.

For information on importing membership bundles, see Importing bundles.

You can import existing payments and event registrations into your WildApricot database using the WildApricot API. For more information, see Payments API V2 call and EventRegistrations API V2 call.

Before you import contacts, you should back up your contact database by exporting it to a spreadsheet. You cannot undo the importing of contact records.

Importing members and other contacts involves the following steps:

1. Preparing the import file

The first step in importing contacts using a spreadsheet is to prepare the spreadsheet file.

The spreadsheet file must be in either .xls, .xlsx, .csv, or .xml format, and up to 50 megabytes in size. It should consist of only one sheet, and should not include empty rows.

If the file consists of multiple sheets, the import process may hang. If successful, only the last sheet in the file will be imported.

The first row in the spreadsheet should display the column headings.

The spreadsheet must include columns for each field you want to update in your WildApricot contact database. The names of the columns should correspond to the names of the fields in your database.

You can update only common and membership fields through importing.

If you want to remove a value – leaving it blank rather than replacing it with another value – enter NEVER for system date fields (like Renewal date), and CLEAR for custom fields and for the Group participation and Notes system fields.

Required columns?

There are no required columns when adding contact records through import, though it is a good idea to include one for the email address, since email address is the primary identifier for contacts in WildApricot, and is required for contacts to sign in and perform self-service functions.


You don't have to set the passwords yourself when adding members in bulk from a spreadsheet. Instead, following the import, you can send the new members an email blast including the {Contact_Password_Reset_URL} macro, which will appear as a link they can click on to set their own passwords.

Updating existing contacts

To update existing contact records, you must include values for existing contacts in the columns that map to the User ID or Email fields in your WildApricot contact database. Where possible, use User ID since it uniquely identifies each contact.

Creating new contacts

To create a new contact, enter an email address in the Email column that is not currently in your contact database. For new records, any value entered in the User ID column will be ignored since user IDs are automatically generated by the system.

Importing members

If you are importing members, include a Membership level column and enter the appropriate level for each member. You can assign contacts to existing membership levels, or enter a new level name to create a level for them. Optionally, you can also set values for the Member since and Renewal due columns. If you don't include columns for these fields, the Member since value will be set to the import date, and the Renewal due value will be set according to the renewal settings for the membership level. The Membership enabled column will be automatically set to Yes, and the Membership status will be automatically set to Active when you specify a membership level value. However, for best results when importing members, you should include a Membership enabled column and set the values for all members to Yes. If you are importing lapsed members, be sure to set the Membership status column to Lapsed.


What are you trying to do?Required column(s)Recommended columns
Add a contactNoneEmail, First name, Last name
Add a memberMembership levelMembership enabled (set to Yes), Member since, Renewal due, Membership status
Update existing contact/memberUser ID or Emailwhichever ones you want to update

Importing multi-option fields

When importing multi-option fields – radio buttons, dropdown, and multiple choice fields – make sure you have at least one instance of each choice within the column for that field. For multiple choice fields, separate each choice either by commas, or on separate lines within the same cell. On the mapping step of the import process, be sure to select the proper field type for the new multi-option field.

Fields that cannot be updated

The following system fields cannot be updated through importing, for security reasons.

  • Administration access
  • Balance
  • Created on
  • Level last changed
  • Member role
  • Profile last updated
  • Renewal date last change
  • Subscription source
  • Total donated
  • Updated by

Also, you cannot import calculated values – cells that use formulas rather than actual values. Only actual values can be imported.  

System fields that can be updated 

System fields already exist within your WildApricot database and do not need to be created in your common or membership fields.

 The following system fields can be updated through importing. For many system fields, you are restricted to entering certain values, or to enter values using a certain format. The valid values and formats for system fields are listed below. 

User ID
This is a unique ID automatically generated by the system. You can enter an existing user ID to identify an existing contact in your database. You cannot create your own user ID; any values not found in your WildApricot database are ignored and replaced with a system generated ID.
Valid values: Usually a 5, 6 or 7 digit number

If the email address entered already exists in the database, then the existing record will be updated. Otherwise, a new record will be created.
If multiple records within the import file use the same email address, only the first record will be imported and the other records using that address will be ignored.
Valid values: Any valid email format (i.e.

Group participation
If you specify a member group that does not already exist in your WildApricot account, you will have the option to create it during the mapping stage of the import process. To assign a member to more than one group, enter the group names on separate lines.
Valid values: Name of the member group. Can be any combination of letters, numbers, characters, and spaces

Leave empty if you do not want to update the current user passwords.

Membership enabled
If set to No, all membership fields are ignored during import.
Valid values:

  • Yes - contact is a member
  • No - membership is suspended; contact no longer treated as a member 

Membership level
If you specify a membership level that does not already exist in your WildApricot account, you will have the option to create it during the mapping stage of the import process.
Valid values: Name of your membership level. Can be any combination of letters, numbers, characters, and spaces

Member bundle ID or email
Use this field to bind members to the same bundle (see Importing bundles).
Valid values: The user ID or the email address of a bundle administrator.

Member since
The date the contact became a member
Valid values: Use supported date format (see below)

Renewal due
The renewal due date
Use supported date format (see below), or set to Never if the member is not required to renew. 

Membership Status
Valid values:

  • Active - Member enjoys all member benefits
  • Lapsed - Member has not paid his/her dues in time
  • Pending - Renewal -Member initiated the renewal process, but payment has not been confirmed yet
  • Pending - Level Change - Membership level change was initiated, now waiting for payment confirmation or approval.
  • Pending - New - New application is awaiting approval or payment confirmation. 

Subscribed to emails
If Yes, contacts will be able to receive automatic email notices. Setting to No disables emails being sent to this contact (regardless of the Event announcements and Member emails and newsletters settings).
Valid values: Yes, No

Event announcements
This controls whether automatic event notices and reminders are sent to the contact. This setting is ignored if Subscribed to emails is set to No.
Valid values: Yes, No

Member emails and newsletters
This controls whether the user receives email blasts sent by WildApricot. This setting is ignored if Subscribed to emails is set to No.
Valid values: Yes, No

Set to Yes if you want the contact archived.
Valid values: Yes, No

Access to profile by others
Set to Yes if you want this contact's profile to be seen by others.
Valid values: Yes, No

Details to show
You can control which kind of visitors can view individual profile fields using the following format: fieldname&&permission where fieldname is the name of the field, and permission is Nobody, Anybody, or Member.
Valid values:

  • Member ID&&Nobody
  • First Name&&Anybody
  • Last Name&&Members
  • etc. 

Photo albums enabled
Set to Yes if you want to enable photo albums for this member.
Valid values: Yes, No

Admin-only field, typically used by the system to record information not captured by other fields (i.e. automatic membership emails sent, when the member was renewed, etc.)
Valid values: Any characters

Any other system fields included in the import file will be ignored.

Supported date formats

Date fields – membership start date, for example – must be formatted using an Excel date format.

Otherwise, an error will occur when importing the file.

If you are importing using a CSV file, the date fields must use one of the following date formats:

  • dd mm yyyy
    Example: 31 Dec 2014
  • yyyy-MMM-dd
    Example: 2014-Dec-31
  • MM/dd/yyyy
    Example: 12/31/2014
  • dd/MM/yyyy
    Example: 31/12/2014
  • yy/MM/dd
    Example: 14/12/31
  • dd-MMM-yy
    Example: 31-Dec-14
  • yyyy-MM-dd
    Example: 2014-12-31
  • dd.MM.YYYY
    Example: 31.12.2014
  • MM.dd.YYYY
    Example: 12.31.2014
Do not include the time of day within a date field.

2. Uploading the import file

Once you've prepared the spreadsheet containing the contacts to be imported, you can upload the import file to your WildApricot account.

To upload your import file, follow these steps:

  1. Hover over the Contacts menu and select the Import option.
  2. Click the Choose file or Browse button (depending on your browser).
  3. Select the import file on your computer or network then click the Open button. The file must be in either .xls, .xlsx, .csv, or .xml format, and up to 50 megabytes in size.
  4. Click the Upload button.

WildApricot will now upload and analyze the import file. So that WildApricot can process the file properly, you will be prompted to provide some information about the import file.

3. Changing import file settings

The next step in WildApricot's import wizard is reviewing and adjusting the import file settings.

On the File settings screen, you provide details about the structure and format of your import file.

If your import file is in .xml, .xls, or .xlsx format, you will be asked to provide the following information.

If you have uploaded a .csv file, you will be asked to provide the following information.

These settings are described in detail below.

Header row
Check First row is a header if the first row in the spreadsheet consists of column headings.

Column separator
Indicate whether values in the import file are separated by commas, semicolons, or tabs.

Decimal separator
Indicate whether decimal places are indicated by a dot or a comma.

Date format
Select the date format used for date fields.

If you do not select the correct column separator used by your import file, your contacts will not be imported properly.

After you have reviewed and adjusted the import file settings, click the Next button to continue.

4. Mapping import columns to database fields

At this stage in the import process, you map (i.e. link) columns in your spreadsheet to fields in your WildApricot database.

On the mapping screen, each column in your import file is listed, along with the values for the first 3 records in the file. If your import file included a header row, then the column headings from your file will be used to identify the column. Otherwise, default column names will be displayed.

For each column that you want to import into your WildApricot database, make sure that Import checkbox is checked. If the Import checkbox is unchecked, the column name will appear crossed out, and the column values will not be imported.

If you're updating existing contacts, make sure you leave User ID or Email checked – whichever you are using to identify the contact.

Within the Map to drop-down list, you select the field in your WildApricot contact database into which the values for this column will be copied. For example, if you have an Email Address column in your spreadsheet, you'd select Email from the Map to list, so that your Email Address column values end up in the Email field in your WildApricot database. Columns will be automatically mapped if they use the same name as a field in your contact database. Columns that you have chosen to import but haven't mapped to a database field will be displayed in red.

If you want to use a column's values to populate a new field in your WildApricot database, select the NEW field - for all contacts to add the field as a common field, or NEW field - only for members to add the field as a membership field.

For new fields, you must also select a field type.

You cannot change the field type after you have performed the import.

You can also indicate whether the new field should be for internal use only.

When you map a column to a multi-option field in your contact database – such as membership level or any multiple choice, radio buttons, or dropdown field – you can indicate whether new field values found in the spreadsheet should be ignored or used to create new field options.

For example, if your import file includes a Platinum membership level but your WildApricot database does not, you can click the Add new levels into the system for all new values radio button to automatically add the Platinum membership level to your WildApricot database.

After you have finished mapping import columns, click the Next button to continue. An error message will appear if completing the import would result in you exceeding your plan's contacts limit.

5. Processing the import file

The final step in the import process is to start processing your import file.

If you did not map a column to the membership level field, the system will present you with the following options:

You can import all new records as non-member contacts, or as members assigned to one selected membership level. Existing records will be unaffected by your choice.

If you are importing only non-member contacts, you do not need to map a column to the membership level database field.

If you did map a column to the membership level field, the following screen will appear instead.

From either screen, you can begin importing records from your spreadsheet by clicking the Start import button. To help you remember the reason for each import, be sure to enter notes in the field provided before starting the import process.

Once the import process has started, a progress bar will appear.

You can cancel the import before it is finished by clicking the Stop button. This will prevent any records not yet imported from being imported, but any records already imported will still be added to your contact database.

If another administrator is already in the process of importing records into your contact database, the following warning message will appear.

Simultaneous updates are not allowed since they can cause data conflicts. You can click the Take ownership button to take over the transfer currently in progress. If you click this button, the import initiated by the other administrator appear on your screen, and the message about simultaneous imports will be displayed to the other administrator.

Import logic

During the import, WildApricot applies the following logic to determine whether to update existing records or create new ones.

  1. For each import record, WildApricot checks if an existing User ID is specified. If so, the corresponding record is updated with the data from the import file.
  2. If no existing User ID is specified, then the system checks if the specified email address exists. If so, the corresponding record is updated.
  3. If no existing User ID or email address is specified, then a new contact record is created and assigned a system generated User ID.

Reviewing the imported records

After you've imported contact records, you can review the imported records and view your import history.

Once the import is finished, a detailed summary of the import will appear.

The import details include:

  • the name of the administrator who performed the import
  • the date and time of the import
  • the name of the import file
  • any notes entered for the import
  • the number of records created or updated
  • the number of new members
  • how long the import took to complete
  • the number of import errors

If there were any problems with the import, the number of errors will appear as a link beside the Problems heading. Clicking this link will display the list of errors within the import log.

The details of the error will be displayed beside the number of the row in the spreadsheet that produced the error.

To view the status of all rows within the import spreadsheet – not just the ones with errors – click the Filter drop-down and select All rows.

You can also access the import log by clicking the Import log link within the import details.

Viewing your import history

To review the status of previous imports, follow these steps:

  1. Hover over the Contacts menu and select the Import option.
  2. Click the date of a recent import or click Full import history for a complete import list.
  3. From the full import history list, you can click the date of an import to view its details, or enter a search string to filter the list.

Emailing the password link to imported contacts

When you add new contacts or members through importing, they will not receive a welcome email with their login credentials. You have to manually email them with a password reset link.

To email the imported contacts, follow these steps:

  1. Click the number of records created/updated within the import results.
    (The import results appear automatically after the import is finished, and can be viewed from your import history by hovering over the Contacts menu and selecting the Import option.)
  2. Click the Email contacts button.
  3. Select the template you want to use as the basis for your email.
  4. Within the body of your email message, let your new members know about your site and their membership, and include the {Contact_Password_Reset_URL} which displays a password reset link. A sample welcome message appears below:
    Hi {Contact_First_Name}, Welcome to the new association website! You have been added as a member. You can use your email address to log in to your member profile: {Contact_Email} If this is your first time logging in, please use the following link to reset your password: {Contact_Password_Reset_URL} An email will be sent to you to reset your password. Once you've logged in, you will be prompted to accept the terms and conditions. Then, you can go into your profile and update and verify your contact information. Let's make this association something special! The Association Team
  5. Review your message and send it to your new members.


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