The Year of the Partner

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Hello and welcome to 2019! When I took a Pause in September, 2018, I had no idea what God had in store for me in the Fall. I mentioned in that post that my life was a bit crazy due to a new donation system we’re rolling out in our ministries around the world (um, next week). I did not know at the time that between then and Christmas I would be in Budapest, London, Paris, and Auckland doing design work on the system.

I confess that simply naming those cities brings a different response than if I say I am going to, perhaps, Bismarck (North Dakota), Peoria (Illinois), Schenectady (New York) or Brandon (Manitoba). While it is my objective to make the most of any place I go to, going to those places without my travel-loving wife is only half as good.

But there is a downside to a busy season like I am going through: My relationships with my ministry partners really suffers.

Since 2002 I have tried to use TNT’s History Log to record all of my interactions with partners. I recently ran a query of my lifetime history in TNT and made a somewhat discouraging discovery: In those 16 years, 2018 was the dead last for my initiations with partners… # of appointments, letters, newsletters, and phone calls (actually phone calls was 15th out of 16, by two calls!).

I’ve also used TNT to log a pledge change for every partner since 1990, and of those 29 years, 2017 & 2018 came in 28th and 29th in terms of new support raised for our ministry work.

Clearly I cannot have another year with statistics like that!

In light of that, and in spite of my busy schedule, I have declared 2019 to be my “Year of the Partner”. I made three very simple New Year’s Resolutions just for partnership development:

  • Write a thank you everyday
  • Call every Financial Partner at least twice, just to say Hi
  • Write a newsletter every month (I went 5 months without a newsletter in 2018)

How am I doing? January just ended and I’ve written 32 thank yous. I had intentionally completed all of my 2018 year-end special gift thank yous before 12/31 to start 2019 with a blank list. I’ve had a handful of “have not thanked in some time” tasks pop up and a few special or annual gifts in January.

Without any pending thank yous in TNT, sometimes I’ve had to be creative: Last week I sent a thank you to the friendly person at Sam’s Club who helped me. This week I sent a co-worker a thank you… in the mail.

(Yes, they are not ministry partners. But I found that when I’m thanking every day, each new TNT thank you task gets completed promptly.)

One time a few years ago I discovered my thanking had plummeted way below normal, and I made a humorous discovery as to why: I had run out of thank you cards! So I have already purchased 200 cards made by a friend who is a professional photographer from some time she spent on the countryside in England. These are timeless, occasion-less photos of thatched roof cottages, doors in brick walls, rowboats in a canal, etc., so they are perfect for any purpose and also gender neutral which is good for a man who writes cards to women and men.

Do I think you should write a thank you every day and a newsletter every month? Not at all. My encouragement to you is to find one or two easily-accomplishable habits to help you just connect and love on your partners this year.

It’s good to chat again.

Bob

p.s.: As I go into 2019, I would love input from you on what questions I can address in this blog. Send your questions to http://www.tnt.tips@gmail.com and I will try to work them in to future posts.


 

 

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The Pause That Refreshes

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When I was teaching my son to drive, I verbally explained to him why I always turn off the radio when backing up: “One of the biggest dangers you face when driving is distraction, and when backing up, it is especially dangerous.”

In our technology age, it is extremely difficult to pause. When we hold staff retreats for our missionaries, we used to “retreat”. The very name suggests “pulling back”. But now it feels more like “working offsite” since we still have phones and laptops; not only are the breaks between sessions different (focus on the device), but even during the sessions many people aren’t paying attention… because the content on their device is subtly more interesting than the content up front.

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We can go work at the office, go to Tim Hortons or go to a retreat centre, but the situation is the same: we do not really pause. I am so guilty of this.

I am constantly reminded of the importance of FOCUS.

Two stories, both related to flying:

  1. In 2006 I was introduced to a powerful new Help software (the same software you now see when you press F1 for help in TNT). I immediately saw the potential of this software for providing help for TNT. On a long flight from Germany to Florida I was able to convert the entire Word-based TNT book into this new software.
  2. In 2011 I needed to fly from Orlando to Little Rock (Arkansas)—about a 2-hour flight if done directly. I was short some frequent flyer miles and Travelocity offered me a longer trip for only a few dollars more. So instead I flew from Orlando to Salt Lake City to Phoenix to Memphis to Little Rock. It was a 12-hour day and was my most productive day of the year.

In partnership development, as we all know too well, it is easy to become distracted. I am amazed at how many undesirable things—like pulling weeds—suddenly become appealing when I should pick up the phone!

This fall I find myself needing to re-evaluate some of things I am doing. And as painful as it is, I have come to realize that there are several positive, helpful, and even enjoyable things that I need to pause from doing.

Like this blog.

After mulling on this thought for several months, I’m pressing the pause button.

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It is certainly not due to lack of enjoyment nor lack of ideas—I have a year of blog posts bouncing around my blog planning spreadsheet.

This fall my ministry is installing a new accounting system, and I have the joy of being the leader of the donation-processing design of this system. Why? Humorously, my “hobby work” on TntConnect led to my becoming the resident expert on how donations flow through our systems!

I have found myself unable to really focus on this project because I have so many other fun, helpful, fascinating, and positive things on my plate. I wish there were things I could give up that I don’t like… but there really aren’t any of those right now. Actually, those I cannot find anyone else to do. 😦

So instead I have had to evaluate some of the things I do like, and ask, “What can I stop doing?” Or, at least pause from doing.

I hope you have found this blog helpful and encouraging. It has always been my aim to foster a positive attitude towards partnership development. TntConnect is really just a tool; the true purpose is to build relationships.

When I’m ready, I’ll come back. But in the meantime, if you need help, please don’t hesitate to … press F1. Enclosed in that help manual is my 16 years of tinkering with TNT.

Hold Fast,

Bob

 

Mass Add/Remove from WITHIN a field

The Mass Change a Field feature historically was a “find and replace” only. For all selected contacts, whatever was in the field was replaced by what you were now adding. That is, you had to replace the entire contents.

TntConnect 3.2 added an enhancement to that feature whereby you can add or remove values in a list. This works for any field with list items, such as the User fields.

So let’s say that I work in an athletic ministry and I track the favourite teams of my partners because I like to reference those teams in my conversation. Here are my partners and their favourite teams:

  • Huck Finn: Canucks
  • George Jetson: Canadiens
  • Fred Flintstone: Maple Leafs, Blue Jays
  • Elmer Fudd: Blue Jays

In this list, “Blue Jays” creates a problem because…

…for Elmer Fudd it is the entire field contents

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but for Fred Flintstone it is only part of the field:

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The comma between Maple Leafs & Blue Jays is important! The Mass Change can only work if commas separate the entries.


Add a comma-separated value

It’s an Olympic year and my partners are all excited about our team, so let’s say I want to Add “Canadian Olympic Team” to all four of the above contacts:

  1. Group Actions | Mass Change a Field
  2. Select the field to be updated (this is my User 1, renamed to “Favourite Team”)
  3. Select the action I want to take: Add to Comma Separated List
  4. Enter the value I want to add (“Canadian Olympic Team”)
  5. Press OK

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This will add (1) a comma and (2) the new text. So the new field values will look like this:

  • Huck Finn: Canucks, Canadian Olympic Team
  • George Jetson: Canadiens, Canadian Olympic Team
  • Fred Flintstone: Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, Canadian Olympic Team
  • Elmer Fudd: Blue Jays, Canadian Olympic Team

Remove comma separated value

Similarly, I can remove items from a list. Let’s say the Blue Jays moved to Toledo so I want to remove that from everyone.

  1. Group Actions | Mass Change a Field
  2. Select the field to be updated (“Favourite Team”)
  3. Select the action I want to take: Remove From Comma Separated List
  4. Enter the value I want to remove (“Blue Jays”)
  5. Press OK

The new field values will look like this:

  • Huck Finn: Canucks, Canadian Olympic Team
  • George Jetson: Canadiens, Canadian Olympic Team
  • Fred Flintstone: Maple Leafs, Canadian Olympic Team
  • Elmer Fudd: Canadian Olympic Team

Finally, remember the easy way to lookup a value inside a field is to use the “contains” option:

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