When selecting Import new records, the end goal is to create new records to your datatbase of what you choose to import. If we are adding new constituents, it makes sense to select Import new records. The Raiser's Edge record types in the context of the normal functioning of the database include Constituents, Gifts, Actions, and Funds among others. The information considered a record in the context of an Import is broader. For example, a Constituent Attribute is not typically considered a record. However, in the context of an Import, if we select that import type, it may be treated as a record. 

When selecting Update existing records, the end goal is to update the records already present in your database with what you have in your import file. For example, if we want to add a letter code to existing gifts, we would select to update the existing records. Please note that when we are updating existing records, we will need an existing Import ID, Constituent ID, or SSN for the constituent and/or the item we are update (e.g. Address Import ID, Gift Import ID, etc.). 

When in Administration > Import in the Raiser's Edge, there are a plethora of options that we can choose from to import and what we select can impact what we choose, in regards to importing new records versus updating existing records. 
  • If our import file has a new phone number for existing constituents, and...
    • We choose Admin > Import > Constituent > Constituent, we would select to update existing records because we are updating an existing Constituent with new phone numbers
    • We choose Admin > Import > Constituent > Constituent Phone, we would select to import new records because we are adding new a new Constituent Phone
  • If our import file has new a new gift attribute for an existing gift, and...
    • We choose Admin > Import > Gift > Gift, we would select to update existing records because we are updating an existing Gift with a new attribute***
    • We choose Admin > Import > Gift > Gift Attribute, we would select to import new records because we are adding a new Gift Attribute
***When updating any existing records, we will need to be sure we include an existing Import ID the field's record, not just the Constituent. In the example above, we will need to have the Constituent ID/Import ID along with the Gift Import ID for that gift, so the Import knows which gift to update. 

For more information on importing, please reference How to import - the basics of importing