Article #4 - Searching

Article #4 - Searching


We'll cover different ways to find the information you've stored in your system. 

We will start off with some simple searches and then move on to more advanced techniques. 

Beginners should be familiar with Quicksearch and Advanced Search.

There are three main reasons to search:

  • To find a specific contact: the Quick search box can find contacts by name, email address or a variety of other characteristics.
  • To perform an action on a contact or contacts that meet certain criteria: you may want to find contacts that meet certain criteria and then perform an action on them. For example, you might want to find all contacts in the advisory group in order to invite them to a meeting, find all those whose memberships have recently expired to send a renewal reminder, or find all contacts aged under 25 in a specific location to send them an email about an upcoming event nearby.

Quick search

The easiest way to find a specific contact is to use the Quick search box that appears in the navigation menu at the top left of the screen. You may choose to search by one of several criteria. Once you click in the box you can start typing immediately to use the default Name/Email search or you can click again to expose several other criteria in a dropdown selection list. Contacts that match the phrase you enter will appear in a dropdown list below the box. For example, entering "peter" will find:

  • people whose first or last name is Peter
  • people who have Peter appearing as part of their name, e.g. Mary Peterson
  • people who have Peter as part of their email address, e.g.
  • organizations with Peter in their name, e.g. Alpeter Community Centre.

You don't need to type the full name of the person - just the first few letters.

Note: If you search by phone then you will need to enter the digits of the phone number without any formatting. The phone search is done against a field that consists only of digits with all non-numeric characters stripped out.

Advanced search

Advanced search allows you to search across all the information you have about your contacts. For example, you could find "all contacts in Venezuela" or "all advisory group members". If you specify two or more categories of information, the search displays every contact that matches all the categories. For instance, you can combine the two criteria just mentioned to find "all advisory group members in Venezuela".

The Advanced search screen is accessible from the navigation menu Search > Advanced Search. On this screen, search criteria are grouped into sections which refer to different types of data that you can search on, such as address data, notes and information from components such as Contributions or Events. Each group of criteria is shown as a blue bar (known as an "accordion" because it expands when you click on it). For example, if you want to search for all people in your database from 16 to 18 years old, click on the Demographics accordion. When it opens, you can specify the birth date range you are interested in.

Display Settings For Results

Advanced Search returns your results as Contact records by default. However, you may want to get another record type instead. For example, you may want to search on the Membership renewal activity to find everyone who renewed their membership last week then display the results as Memberships so that you can export name, address and Membership expiration date to create and then post out membership cards to those contacts. Simply select the record type you want from the Display Results As dropdown.

Search settings

The Search Operator determines whether your criteria are combined with AND statements, or combined with OR statements. For example, you may want to find all individuals who are in the Volunteers group AND who have a Volunteer Training activity recorded for them. In this case use the AND operator. If you need to find everyone who is in the Volunteers group OR has a Volunteer Training activity recorded, use the OR operator. 

The Search in Trash allows you to search contacts that have been deleted but not deleted permanently. When a contact is deleted, the contact and all related data are moved to trash. 

The Date Range Filter

Most component searches include a date range filter. The images below show examples of both:

  • by using an absolute date range, e.g. "1st Jan 2010" to "31 July 2010"
  • by using a relative date range, e.g. "Previous week"


For example you may want to use a relative date range search to find:

  • Contacts who have contributed in the last 7 days (Relative date range - "From 1 Week ago")
  • This (financial) years registered Event Participants (Relative date range - "This Year")
  • Contacts who are a certain age​


Combining search criteria

Different criteria are combined by "ANDing" them. For example, if you select the tag "major donor" and the country "Mexico", the search will return major donors from Mexico. The search will not return major donors who are not from Mexico, nor those from Mexico who are not major donors.

You can change the default search operator from AND to OR in the Search Settings.

Within criteria groups that allow you to check boxes for more than one value, these options are also combined by "ANDing". For example, if you can search for contacts whose Preferred Communication Method is both Email AND SMS.

With fields that allow you to select more than one value from a dropdown list, the values are always combined with "OR". For example, you could find contacts that live in Alaska or in Arizona.

The contact summary pop-up

You can see a pop-up box with detailed information for any contact listed in your search results by hovering over the contact icon in the left column, as shown below. You can adjust the fields shown in this "pop-up view" by modifying the fields included in the "Summary Overlay" profile (Administer >Customize Data and Screens > Profiles).

The wildcard (%)

Understanding wildcards greatly expands your search options. A wildcard represents any character (letter, numeral or punctuation mark). The wildcard is represented by the % symbol. It is most easily understood through examples.

Suppose that somebody asked you to find a contact with a first name similar to "Michael", but possible something different such as "Michelle" or "Michał". If you search for "Mich%" you will find all these variations, including a contact who is supposed to be named "Michael" but whose name was misspelled as "Micheal". Wildcards can be used before, after, or even within words. For example, searching on 'Mich%el' will exclude "Michał" and "Micheal" but still find "Michelle" and "Michael".