A quick google search on ‘cleaning your church database’ will produce many results, from spring cleaning checklists to help articles. Since maintaining a clean and concise database is so important, we thought ShelbyNews would be a great avenue for presenting tips for keeping your database clean. After all, your church database is only as good as the information you put into it.

This issue will help you address duplicate records. It is easy to see how duplicate records get added to the database. For example, Kim was already a church member and married Chris, who was also a member. In updating Chris’ family, another record was added for Kim, rather than updating her original record. Voila, we now have a duplicate record. Church databases are full of them. Having to search through duplicate records to find the most accurate and current information costs time and resources that most do not have to spare.

A best practice for handling duplicate records is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Remind staff to search for records before adding someone to the database. And pay attention to the program. Both Arena and ShelbyNext Membership include functionality that help prevent duplicates when adding information that is similar to something that already exists. Note: Arena includes a check in the ‘Add Family Wizard’ that compares address information and tells you that someone else already exists with the same address.

Preventing duplicates is easier said than done, and if you are like most, duplicates already exist in your database. The links below provide information on identifying and merging duplicate information.

ShelbyNext Membership

Identifying Duplicate Records

Merging Individuals


Arena includes two options for identifying duplicates. The ‘Duplicate Person Query and Setup for Lists’ will help you identify duplicate records. Once you have addressed duplicate records, the ‘List Configuration – Duplicate of’ will help you keep your database clean of duplicates (i.e. mostly used for cleaning up records created through event registrations or online giving).

Merging Individuals

The time is right! Many of you are in the process of transitioning to Arena or ShelbyNext and the conversion process is an ideal time to clean-up your data, helping to avoid bringing over information that is outdated and no longer used. For those that have already converted, we want to assure you that it is never too late to start! Remember, we are here to help. Our Shelby training team would be happy to discuss your situation and provide one-on-one consultation on best practices for handling duplicate records. Be on the lookout for future tips on keeping your database clean in your next edition of ShelbyNews.