Importing a file into your database (via CSV)

When first setting up a new program you may have data stored in spreadsheets or in another database that you would like to import. You may do this using HelpYouSponsor's CSV import tool.

Successful imports rely on fully understanding the import process. Here are a few steps to ensure your imports complete successfully:

Successful Imports Start with Preparation

  1. Read through all the information and watch the video tutorials.

  2. If it has been some time since your last import, refresh your memory by going through the material and videos again.

  3. Follow the directions for formatting your file.

  4. Start small. If you have hundreds of records to update, break it into smaller pieces. Especially for your first imports don't attempt more to import more than 5 records. That way if something does go wrong you will be able to fix it easily . Fixing 5 records is a lot easier than 100 or 1000.

  5. If you are at all uncomfortable you can have HelpYouSponsor do the import for you for $25 per import (CSV file).

  6. If you have questions don't hesitate to ask us via email at

Get Started

To get started go to Program Options and then Programs. Click the Import link for the program to which you wish to do the import.

Import Training Video Series

Video #1 - Introduction and Recipient Import

Video #2 - Importing Donors

Video #3 - Import Sponsorship Relationships

Video #4 - Import Payment Records

*CAUTION - Please make sure someone knowledgeable about your HelpYouSponsor software and your sponsorship program is doing the import. What you import into the database cannot be undone so you want to make sure it is done right. Also, please read the information below about preparing your file for import. Failure to follow the instructions below can cause your import to fail.

Preparing your CSV file and troubleshooting

Using the following information to format your CSV file will help you avoid problems importing. If you do have problems please refer to the following items to troubleshoot.

Check to make sure your columns match the form

As was previously mentioned, you will want to make sure the columns of you CSV file match the fields in your Sponsorship Profile Form.

Avoid Columns and Rows without Data

Some spreadsheet editors can reformat cells within columns that have no data contained within in them and insert non-breaking space characters. This can cause errors when attempting to import data.

If you have empty rows, usually this occurs at the end of the CSV file, you will import empty data sets. We cannot validate empty rows to avoid import because the import happens cell by cell and an empty cell is just as valid as a cell with data when it is in a column you have chosen to import.

To avoid this, delete any columns or rows within your CSV file that don't contain any data. If you are not sure how to do this please google "remove empty rows excel" and you will find many tutorials with simple instructions.

Special Characters

Certain characters contained within CSV file cells can cause issues, preventing the file from being imported.

Text that contains commas should be enclosed in single quotations.

You should remove any double quotation marks from file cells before executing an import. In a case where quotations are required, you can substitute double quotations (") with single quotations (').

Invalid Use of Comma

When importing comma-separated values into your database commas should only be used to separate values. Any additional commas in a comma-separated value that are not specifically used to separate values will cause an error.

For example, importing “21,22,23,” or “,21,22,23” will cause an error because of the comma at the beginning or end.

To fix this error, you need to remove any extraneous commas from comma-separated values and try importing your file again.

Wrong File Type

All files imported must be in CSV (comma separated value) format.

To save as a CSV open your file in Excel (or other compatible application), go to File > Save As, and choose the name of your file and where you would like to save it. There should be a Save as type dropdown or similar option – select CSV (Comma delimited).

Note that depending on the application you're using, the appropriate file type may not be labeled as CSV (Comma delimited), but something very similar. Additionally, some versions of Excel for Mac feature multiple CSV file types.

Import by HelpYouSponsor

If you are having difficulty formatting your file or difficulty importing your file successfully you may send it to and we will format and import the file for you.

Please note, there is a $45 charge for each file we import.

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