How To Create and Manage Contacts

  • Updated


  1. Overview
  2. How To Create a Contact List
    1. Import
  3. Sync from NGP VAN
  4. Managing Contact Lists
    1. Folders
    2. Filtering
    3. Creating new lists from other lists
    4. Assigning Contacts to Volunteers
  5. Utilizing Contact Lists
    1. Peer to Peer Actions
    2. Opt-Outs
    3. Broadcast Actions
    4. Analyzing Metrics
    5. Exporting Contact Data


The CONTACTS tab in your admin dashboard menu is where you are able to upload and view lists for targeting in actions, as well as lists you have synced from VAN or PDI. Clicking on an individual contact opens their contact page, which displays the contact’s information and current tags and custom fields, as well as a log of their Message and Reports history.

This article will review:

  • How to Create a Contact List
  • Managing Contact Lists
  • Utilizing Contact Lists

How To Create a Contact List

Contact lists are typically used for Peer-to-Peer actions or Broadcast actions. The most common way contact lists are created is in another software or database, such as VAN, and uploading a CSV file directly into Impactive.


  1. In the CONTACTS tab, click on “Lists” in the left-hand navigation menu.
  2. Click on the “Import List” button on the upper right-hand side of the page.
  3. In the pop-up box, enter a name for the list and upload your CSV file.
  4. In the “List Type” drop-down menu, select either Contact or Broadcast List.
  5. Click the “Start Import” button and your new list will appear with status “processing”. The list will soon be “ready” to use.



  • You must provide the following required column headers in the CSV, and include data in these columns for each contact - first_name, last_name, and phone. Impactive will not upload contacts that do not have data in these columns, with the column headers explicitly named as such.
  • Additionally, if you want your data to sync back to NGP VAN, you must also provide a van_id column in the CSV file. If you want your data to sync back to PDI, you must also provide a pdi_id column. Include a column called "van_id" or "pdi_id" with the contact's ID on the upload so that Impactive knows which records to integrate with VAN.
  • If you are integrating to a national or multi-state VAN instance, make sure to include the 'state_abbrev' column with state abbreviation as a value (ex: "VA" for Virginia). Read more about this workflow under "Setting Up Integrations".
  • Assigning contacts to particular users? Include a column called "assigned_user_email" with the user's email as a value. Read more about this workflow under "Assigned List Canvassing".


Sync from NGP VAN

Impactive understands that campaigns, advocacy organizations, and unions use NGP VAN to create lists by cutting turf and segmenting voters using its many filtering tools. We recommend using our contact list sync feature to automatically pull those lists into your campaign on a daily basis. Setting up this synchronization will allow for data to flow two ways - to and from VAN and Impactive.

Contact list sync turnaround time depends on traffic to both the Impactive platform and VAN, but the list sync should typically complete within 24 hours. Update your NGP VAN list syncs with manual resyncing on contact lists syncs in the Data > Integrations tab. After clicking “re-sync” the contact lists in Impactive will be updated to reflect the state of the static list in NGP VAN.

When viewing a campaign’s contact lists, results imported via a VAN Sync Instruction will display a value of “Sync Instruction” in the “Source” column.

Note: You will need to have an active API key already set up to do this. Visit our Data > Integrations help pages to complete this step.

  1. Go to the DATA > Integrations tab.
  2. Click on the “+ Create Sync Instruction” button.
  3. Select "NGP VAN" from the drop-down menu.
  4. Enter a name for your sync instruction. We encourage you to make it something memorable like "Precinct #1".
  5. Skip “Target State”.
  6. Select "Contact List" in the "Instructions for" drop-down menu.
  7. Enter a name for the list.
  8. Select the appropriate API Key integration and database.
  9. Under Database Mode, select “My Voters”.
  10. Under VAN Export Types, select “SmsSync”.
  11. Find the VAN folder with your list under "VAN Folders".
  12. Choose the “VAN List to Sync” in final field.
  13. Click on the "Create" button.


Important Note: When there’s multiple phone numbers listed in VAN for one contact, Impactive will only pull the default or "preferred" number. We do not recommend pulling multiple numbers per contact.

Managing Contact Lists

Next, you can manage your contacts for this list by filtering, creating new lists from other lists, and assigning contacts to volunteers.


You can create folders for your lists to keep them organized by clicking on the “Select Folder” drop-down menu and clicking “+ New Folder”. Note: you cannot delete or rename a folder once it’s been made.


Filtering through lists is an effective way to find contacts that have been interacted with. Admins can also filter by:

  • Opt-ins
  • Volunteer on campaign
  • Subscribed to broadcast
  • Has received P2P message
  • Has received Broadcast Message
  • And various Geographic Filters (state, congressional district, state senate, state house, city, zip code). Results on geographic filters are limited based on available voter data for each contact.

Click on the "Filter" button to select the criteria to search through your contacts.

Note: It's important to remember that this will not change your summary metrics at the top of the page.


Here are some quick definitions for some of these filters and how they work:

  • Received Message from Friend: Turn this on to filter for contacts that have received a message from a friend on Impactive.
  • Has Report Filled: Turn this on to filter for contacts who have had a report filled out for them.
  • Has Unsubscribed: Turn this on to filter for contacts who have unsubscribed from the campaign.
  • Has Not Unsubscribed: Turn this on to filter for contacts who have not unsubscribed from the campaign.
  • Tags: Select from a list of tags for your campaign to filter for contacts who have had that Tag "turned on" or set to "true" by your volunteers in their reports.
  • Custom Fields: Select from a list of custom fields for your campaign to filter for contacts who have had that Custom Field applied with a specific value by volunteers in their reports. Currently, this only works for SelectionField custom fields.
  • Activity Scripts: Select from a list of scripts for your campaign to filer for contacts who received those scripts in your outreach.
To filter contacts by city, district, and other geographic information, you will need to import that data via CSV; more on that here.


Creating new lists from other lists

Once you have used filters to segment your contact lists, you can create new contact lists by clicking the "New Contact List" button. This will create a new contact list from the list of currently filtered contacts. You can also add contacts to another already created list by clicking on the “Add to Contact List” button.


Assigning Contacts to Volunteers

Reassign specific contacts to volunteer (user) lists by using the "Assign Contacts" button. Then view the user assigned to handling a contact for each texting activity with "Assign" column on the ‘All Contacts" and contact list pages.


Utilizing Contact Lists

Once a contact list is uploaded, it can be used for a number of different functions such as Peer to Peer actions, Broadcast actions, analyzing metrics, syncing with NGP VAN, and exporting contact data.

Peer to Peer Actions

In order to build a Peer to Peer action and send texts, you need to have a list of contacts uploaded to send messages to. To use a specific contact list in a Peer to Peer action, you can "Select a list to target" when creating or editing an action. Once the action is published, volunteers will be able to contact the people on this list for the action. Visit our help pages on Peer to Peer Actions for more specific instructions on creating and managing Peer to Peer actions.



For Peer to Peer actions, if a person replies with Stop, Unsubscribe, Remove, Quit, Stopall, Cancel, or End, Impactive automatically tags their number with a special tag named "Opt Out". When a contact is marked with Opt Out on Impactive, your campaign will never be able to send P2P texts to that contact again via Impactive, even if the same contact is part of future contact list. This logic cannot be bypassed.

If a contact uses other language requesting to be removed from the list, you can also manually tag them with the "Opt Out" tag to add them to the Opt Out List to be removed from future texting. Once added to the Opt Out List, contacts cannot be removed.

If your campaign creates an additional tag, such as Do Not Text, the backend of Impactive doesn't function the same way. That is a separate tag you can track on your own if you choose. However, Impactive will not add people with a Do Not Text tag or any other tag to the special Opt Out list. If they use for example a Wrong Number tag or use language to indicate that, the system will not mark that contact as Opted Out.

We recommend training volunteers to use the Opt Out tag, as it adds additional safeguards to protect your campaign and comply with federal communication law.

Broadcast Actions

Similar to Peer-to-Peer actions, you can use specific contact lists for broadcast actions. For specific steps on how to create a broadcast action, visit our help page Broadcast SMS: Getting Started Guide.

Analyzing Metrics

Lists will include contact metrics. This information will help you understand how actions towards a list have performed. To access the metrics, click on a list. You'll see the following Summary metrics:


  • Messages Received: This represents the number of messages that have successfully been delivered to these contacts.
  • Responses: This represents the number of responses that have been successfully received by your volunteers from these contacts. This does not include messages between friends, as we are unable to track responses from friends that are on volunteer's personal phone numbers or email accounts.
  • Opt-outs: This represents the number of contacts that have opted out using stop words such as "STOP", "UNSUBSCRIBE", and "REMOVE", among others. This is combined with the number of contacts that have been manually unsubscribed by your volunteers using the "Opt Out" tag. Assigning the "Opt Out" tag to a contact will automatically unsubscribe them from your texting programs.
  • Reports Filled: This represents the number of reports that have been filled out by your volunteers.

Exporting Contact Data

Contact lists can always be exported as CSVs so that you can repurpose them in your canvassing and mobilizing efforts. Admins can find their contacts and tags and custom fields exports listed under the "Exports" dropdown at the top of the All Contacts and contact list pages. You can export the data as is, or filter by date, tags, and custom fields. 

Was this article helpful?