Two (or four!) is better than One?

“Hi. My name is Bob. I’m a TntConnect junkie. It started out simple, just one database. It really helped me with my personal support and I was happy. Then I created another database to manage my “personal ministry” (separate from my support raising). Then I created a sample one to teach from. Then I helped someone with their database. Pretty soon I was going crazy… at this moment I have 212 TntConnect databases on my computer. I can quit anytime. Really.”

Seriously, I do have four TNT databases that I use all the time (e.g., daily, or multiple times per week).

Why would I want to have multiple databases?

The most common reason for multiple databases is for anyone who manages both personal support and a local “team” or what I call a “corporate” database. [In this context I use the word “corporate” to differentiate from a “personal” database, not to imply a database for the whole corporation.]

There are hundreds of TNT users who are raising funds for a local team, and sometimes sharing that team database with others (but not sharing their own personal database). And some of them may have more than one local team database. For example, I know a fund developer who had one corporate database for his local team and a separate corporate database for the national fund development department.

Here are the four TNT databases I use multiple times per week:

  1. My first, oldest, database that made me fall in love with TNT in the first place: My personal support database.
  2. A personal ministry database that I have used for 14 years to manage my personal discipleship and teaching ministry. I take advantage of the task/history features, but do not track any donations in this database.
  3. A corporate database that my team uses in our fund development efforts. I manage more than 100 separate giving designations in this one database.
  4. The sample ToonTown training database that I use for creating documentation, writing this blog, and testing new features in TNT and other support raising software tools.

I have frequently created temporary databases to test new other new features, try importing tests, etc. And finally, I have helped people setup new databases from their old Excel files, etc. I don’t really do that anymore, but I used to do that a lot more 10 years ago.

I can move between my TntConnect databases using the File | Open Recent list (similar to the Recent Files list in Excel or Word):


As a reminder, I use my personal support database for more than just my ministry partners, which you can read about here:

TntConnect: Not just for support raising


Take Note!

Notes, notes, and more notes. What do I do with an open-ended Notes tab?

The Notes tab is simply an open-form notepad, so my simple answer to that question is, “Do whatever you want!

So the real question then is, “What are some best practices related to the Notes tab?”

These are my thoughts on this, which in this case are “super low value” because really, you should do whatever you want with this field!

From a technical perspective, the two Notes areas (the Tab and the window above the tabs) are exactly the same. Type in one and it updates the other. Therefore, Put the most important 3 lines at the top.


Here are some of the things that I have always recommended in training sessions that are super-helpful to have in those top 3 lines:

  • If the contact has a deceased spouse–especially if you knew the spouse (e.g., they were a partner while alive)–then I put that information: “Husband (Fred) / Passed away 5/15/15“. I do this because I do not want to accidentally ask her about her husband!
  • If their name has an unusual pronunciation that you want to remember: “Pronounced Flynnstun, not Flint-stone.
  • If there is some current event in their lives that I want to ask them about first thing when I next talk to them, such as:
    • Daughter Judy going to Genovia on mission trip, July 2018
    • Elroy playing in marching band at Winter Olympics
    • Calvin is engaged to Susie; wedding April 15th
    • Planning Grand Canyon vacation summer 2018
    • Granddaughter Sarah is expecting first child in May
    • Lucy (wife) just started Master’s program in Counseling, September 2017; expects to graduate 2020
  • If they or I made a future commitment, I would of course schedule a task reminder, but it is good for me to see it in the Notes too because of the potentially long time frame and that I would see/talk to them before that time occurs:
    • Would consider increasing support after last daughter graduates from college, May 2019
    • Asked me to stop by next time I’m in town” (too vague to have a real task assigned)
  • Some people like to record the details from their past appointments here instead of using the individual History items. They do this for two reasons: (1) they can then scroll through all of that history on one screen instead of scrolling through a lot of non-appointment activity (see pics below) and (2) they can export this notes tab to a Getting to Know You form (links at bottom) or some other export.




I can definitely see why people do it this way. The disadvantage of recording appointments on the Notes tab are two-fold:

  1. You cannot search/filter/export the Appointment history
  2. You don’t capture the appointment on the “Last Visit” field
  3. When you do export your contact lists (Current Group | Export Current Group), the Notes field export could be enormous.

But those reasons are not strong enough to say “Don’t do it that way!” Because: YOU SHOULD USE TNT THE WAY IT HELPS YOU.

For me personally, I use the Notes field sparingly because of the way I frequently export my data and because I am obsessive about using the History log. Only 1/3 of my contacts have any Notes at all, and the average for them is just 15 words.

If you want to include your Notes in the Getting to Know You forms, re-read these blog posts:

Blog post: Getting to Know You (July 25, 2016)

Blog post: Getting to Know You More (Oct. 31, 2017)

Love ’em but don’t leave ’em: Archiving

“I have contacts who have no activity for years. I’m tired of seeing them in my list. What do I do?”

I have fielded this question many times over the years and the criteria for wanting to [remove] [delete] [hide] [archive] contacts varies from person to person, so for the purposes of this blog post I’ll use the word “Archive” to define the general class of contacts I do not really want to see anymore.

If you’re like me, sometimes you actually want conflicting things. For example, I can say, “I never want to see X contact again because they are no longer a part of my ministry”, and then in the next sentence say, “I want to run a lifetime report in the Contribution Report” [and that same contact had giving history 15 years ago]. If I delete that contact from my database, their history is lost as well.

This is different, of course, from these contacts with whom I am likely to never have any connection with again, and my assumption here is that these are many years past:

  • A former prayer partner (no giving history) who is now deceased. The Bible seems pretty strong on the prohibition against contacting dead people!
  • A referral who I presented my ministry to but who said No to partnership, does not receive my newsletter, etc.
  • A referral that I received whom I was never able to reach at all

One solution is to move all of the contacts I don’t want into a separate “archive” database; that database would grow and grow over time. But that’s problematic because (a) I now have relevant/historical data in two separate places (bad for reporting and analysis) and (b) TntConnect doesn’t make that easy (I cannot just ship a contact from one database to another).

Another solution is just to delete any contact I don’t think I want anymore.

My personal philosophy is to err on the side of “not deleting”. The only contacts I have ever deleted, which probably equals about 12, are the third one in the list above: Referrals I never connected with and probably will never reach out to again.

So I how do I handle this situation?

First, I changed my attitude about contacts. When I first went into ministry, I only kept contacts who received my newsletter (financial partner or not), or for those whom I was actively cultivating. Once someone said “No”–whether they had never given or had been a financial partner before–they left my list. So my list was focused only on the “very active” person (and unfortunately I have 1000+ contacts missing from my current TNT database).

Once I started using TNT, I changed to what I call “the phone book approach”. Back in the days of the paper phone book, our local phone book was filled with all of the names in town that I needed and countless names of people I never knew. Ah, the good old days, eh? It did not bother me that this book was full of irrelevant names; I just ignored the ones I did not need. So in TNT I adopted the same thinking. Currently I have about 10 names in my database for every 1 who gets my newsletter. Another 1 of 10 (10%) may be contacts I am cultivating, while the other 80% are long past and will have no connection again.

I keep these names because I want to retain all of the history of the activity… the phone calls and appointments I went on, the gifts they may have given, and even just the fact they were referred to me by someone who cared enough to share a name.

So here’s how I handle this in TNT:

  1. I use the User Status field to call them “Archive”
  2. Lookup | By Field // User Status is not Archive
  3. Add Current Lookup to Favourites
  4. Then I chose this Favourite lookup as my Default Lookup in the Options (Tools | Options | User Interface)

This is not a perfecsolution by any means. The archived contacts are only hidden when I first open TNT, not “Always hide them except when I specifically want to see them”; but I think that would be hard to program because TNT could not really know when *I* want to see an archived contact but *YOU* would not in the same circumstances.