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A League of His Own

2017-12-06-Nixon

I felt like a chump after reading an article in The Wall Street Journal last night, realizing that I am “in a whole other league” compared to this guy. Here are the opening paragraphs (Emphasis mine; I cannot link to the article as it requires a subscription login):

POCANTICO HILLS, N. Y.—Some might say David Rockefeller, a scion of America’s greatest fortune and the veteran chief executive of Chase Manhattan Bank, was a dedicated networker long before the age of Facebook.

That would grossly understate his horizons. Mr. Rockefeller recorded contact information along with every meeting he had with about 100,000 people world-wide on white 3-by-5-inch index cards. He amassed about 200,000 of the cards, which filled a custom-built Rolodex machine. He kept the 5-foot high electronic device at his family’s suite of offices in New York City’s Rockefeller Center for about half a century.

In the annals of CEO history, the breadth and depth of this record of contacts stand out,’’ said Nancy Koehn, a Harvard business professor and historian.  “This is a man with a large, long reach.’’

Sample card, for Richard Nixon:

2017-12-06-RockefellerCard

David Rockefeller was the grandson of John D. Rockefeller, but famous in his own right, having served as a primary shareholder and chairman of the board of Chase Manhattan, largest bank in America at the time.

The article explains Mr. Rockefeller’s meticulous record-keeping on the top-secret cards–a vault so secret it was only revealed when he died this year at age 101. His will stipulates the cards may not be fully released for at least 10 more years.

Many of the entries were typed on the cards, with some notations made by hand. Information that was out of date was crossed out.

Most of the seven cards shown in the article (Trump, Reagan, Nixon, Eisenhower, Sadat, Mandela, Gates) have multiple appointments listed. Here are some of items I noticed on some or all of the cards:

  • Name
  • Spouse’s Name
  • Greeting format (“Mr. President”, “Dick”, “Bill and Melinda”)
  • All relevant addresses and phone numbers; many of the phone numbers and postal codes are the pre-1970 formats!
  • Short notes on face-to-face appointments (date, location, context)
  • Public information not from a personal appt (e.g., election to presidency; cite newspaper article about a life change)

2017-12-06-EisenhowerCard

Here’s one comment about a visit with Nelson Mandela:

7/5/93-DR hosted dinner honoring above, Rainbow Pavillion. Gave DR beaded belt. M/M J. Wayne Fredericks helped him pick it out. DRs putting it in a glass frame.

If David Rockefeller had 100,000 people covering 200,000 cards, it is safe to say that the number of data entries must have numbered in the millions. Admittedly, he probably had a personal secretary updating these cards, a luxury I have not had!

I am staggered, yet envious, of this kind of detail. Many times since I started using TNT I have wished that I had kept the records of every support-raising contact and appointment I had. Sadly, like many missionaries I “threw away the card box” [metaphorically; mine was electronic] once I reported to my assignment. Initially I contacted more than 1,000 people on my road to full support, but the vast majority did not make it into TNT because the Excel files were discarded years before TNT came along… remember back when file storage was limited to little plastic disks that held little? “Why would I want to keep this?” I probably asked myself in 1990s.

But I do take heart that since TNT came into my life I have in a very poor emulation done the same thing, and why TNT is also “in a league of its own” in terms of software. My two TntConnect databases have in them 3321 names and (not including data changes) more than 51,000 rows in the history log. And that only represents my last 15 years—less than half of the 31 years I have been raising support for my organization. The very fact I was able to come up with those two numbers (3321 contacts + 51000 history items) in about one minute is evidence of the data-managing power of TNT.

When I joined my organization full-time I was actually trained using an Index Card system quite similar to Mr. Rockefeller’s. Maybe to my detriment, upon returning home I immediately switched to “my own homemade system” (that is, a simple spreadsheet). Yet I know several people today who still maintain their entire partner list on index cards. What a treasure!

Exclusive Saved Groups + Export

Here’s something that probably keeps you up at night:

“What should I use, User Fields or Saved Groups?”

Come on, admit it. There’s no shame. You toss and turn over the subject. I saw you brooding at Starbucks just the other day, muttering under your breath, “Saved Groups, User Fields, Saved Groups, User Fields … “.

2017-11-29-9Thinking

I could probably write dozens of posts on the great and subtle nuances of User Fields vs. Saved Groups.

Under the surface, by the way, they are actually the same thing… just a “Tag” that you assign. This tag allows you to filter and sort ad nauseum.

Other software tries to lump all user-defined activity into flat tags. TNT sends that into the stratosphere by the plethora of ways you can sort, filter, group, and export tags, which most other software cannot touch.

In this extra-long post, then, I want to describe a subtle you probably did not know about because it is not obvious. Once you see it, you’ll say, “Where have you been all my life???”

You can make any Saved Group into an Exportable Contact field.

Historically (for the last 10 years at least), one of the primary benefits of User Fields over Saved Groups has been that they could be exported. It’s great to have multiple saved groups, but the only way to export was to lookup the group, then export the contacts... and then in Excel manually notate/sort them. This was awkward, especially if you were comparing membership in multiple saved groups. But that changed this year with this new feature.

Here’s a real world example I was using just yesterday, which is what led me to write this post.

On my team, we do an annual fund-raising event where we invite some of the most generous partners of our ministry.

I can (and do) easily log attendance at these events using the powerful Log History jet engine. But because of the significance of this event (it’s huge to us) and because a number of the guests come multiple times, I needed a better way to manage it. Also, I want to know exactly how many people attend each year… without having to use the History log to count it.

So I created a set of Exclusive Saved Groups that layers the entire event (called “Briefing”), then each year, with attendance underneath. Note in the picture below that I also have separate saved groups for the people who run the event, and the program people (speakers/musicians).

2017-11-29-1ExclusiveSavedGroups

In the set of 19 saved groups, the entire set [labeled “Briefing”, and in black] is not exclusive (meaning any one contact can be in multiple years). But each individual year is exclusive (in blue), so within any given year, a contact must be either in the parent group (e.g., BRFG17) or the nested groups (17-Guest, 17-Speaker, or 17-Staff) but cannot be in more than one.

Note that the “Guest” group each year is shaded. This is the group that is made into a contact field:

2017-11-29-5MakeContactField

Then in the Contacts View I created a Favourite Lookup (using Lookup | By Group) that will return the list of all contacts who are Guests (this helps me do lookups on the financial commitments and giving as a result of each event).

2017-11-29-2FavouriteLookup

2017-11-29-3CurrentLookup

Here’s where the magic happens. I could export this list of contacts, but I run into a problem: We had 290 guests total for all 5 events, but that was actually only 213 people as several have attended multiple years. If I exported the list of 213, I would have no way of knowing which year(s) they attended.

BUT, by making them into Contact fields, I can now export them:

2017-11-29-4ExclusiveSGExport

And then I can see the results in Excel, making it VERY easy for me to compare attendees for all years (that is, ‘this contact is a Member of that saved group’).

2017-11-29-6Export

To reiterate this important tip: Note that TNT alerts me as to which Saved Groups are also Contact fields, by shading them in the Groups list:

2017-11-29-7Shaded

As usual, I have only scratched the surface of how I use this feature. But this “Make Contact Field” feature is something I have used many times this year, and it has been a great addition.

It’s that time: Year-End Campaigns

The end of November is the time when many missionaries send special gift appeals letters to their partners, giving them an opportunity to send a special gift. For some missionaries this is because they have a genuine need for additional funds. But for many missionaries, it is because their partners are seeking opportunities to give during the Christmas season.

This year, the “Appeal Tracking” feature in TntConnect was renamed as “Campaign Tracking” to reflect the expanded tools that TntConnect was offering. There is so much more to a campaign than just an appeal. I won’t go into that here, though. For this post, the principle is the same: It is year end, and for many people that is time to send a letter to their partners about a year-end giving opportunity.

TntConnect is incredibly helpful in preparing year-end special gift appeals. TntConnect can help you do these things:

  • Select the group of contacts to send the appeal letter to
  • Prepare the mail merge for the letter and the envelope
  • Record the sending of the letter to the selected group
  • Record the individual gifts given in response to the appeal, separate from the partners’ regular giving.

I personally think TntConnect’s powerful “Special Gift Appeal Tracking” feature is the #1 most “under-used” feature in TntConnect. You can read more about it in this step-by-step guide. (Note: This step-by-step guide was created in a previous version of TNT, so it still uses the words “Appeals” and “Appeal Tracking”, but you can figure that out.)

History: The Jet Engine of TntConnect

2017-11-06-AirCanada747

Every afternoon about dinnertime three 747s fly over my house as they make their final approach to our airport. My sons and I can feel the plane coming, even before we hear it. We never get tired of looking at them.

Boeing was designing this plane at the same time the Concorde was being developed, so it was a huge gamble (many thought a company-destroyer). The common thinking at the time was that “all passenger planes will soon be supersonic” and that this monster ‘traditional jet’ would be obsolete before it even rolled off the assembly line.

Because of this concern of obsolescence, they designed it to be particularly useful for cargo—which is why there is a cabin on top (this leaves the entire main fuselage available for cargo). Of course mass supersonic travel never happened and the 747 proved to be a phenomenal success, completely changing the way global air traffic was handled. Passenger and cargo traffic exploded far more than anyone expected. For almost four decades, the 747 held the passenger capacity record, the distance flying record, the cargo capacity record, and the speed record for all passenger jets.

Boeing ended up selling more than four times their wildest expectations, and the plane is still in production today, almost 50 years later.

For years I have asserted that “The Log History feature is the jet engine of TNT.” If we compare the above photo with the one below, the differences are obvious.

2017-11-06-PiperCub

Both planes are valuable and useful, and both fulfill the same core purpose—getting someone from Point A to Point B. But if your Point B is any great distance, or you need to carry a lot of stuff, you’ll probably prefer a jet.

But which jet? The 747, a fighter jet, or a business jet?

2017-11-06-JetPlane

For me, when I say that “History is the jet engine of TNT,” I have a fighter jet in mind because of its incredible speed and agility.

2017-11-06-RCAF-Jet

But I also think of the 747. Support-raising is a long-haul, and I want a tool that will do it … easily, comfortably, with excellence. My TNT history contains tons of cargo—tens of thousands of history entries—and TNT carries that cargo with the strength of a 747 but the agility of a fighter jet. So when I talk about the Jet Engine of TNT, I really mean that TNT embodies the best of all four planes…

  • It can be a Piper Cub for someone who just wants a little hopper to manage their newsletter list.
  • It can be a business jet for someone who wants fast and nimble.
  • It can be a fighter jet for someone who wants sheer power and responsiveness… to attack their support raising efforts.
  • It actually is the world’s biggest, baddest, bestest “jumbo jet” support-raising software with incredible cargo-carrying abilities, phenomenal performance, and sheer good looks.

Many TNT users do not even realize how much power is at their fingertips. They want to “Fly from Montreal to Auckland,” thinking they have a Piper Cub at their disposal when they really are piloting the 747.

In addition to being able to record thank yous, phone calls, and appointments, some of the long-haul ways I use History includes:

Now that you know what a powerful tool TntConnect is, I hope http://www.TNT.tips can be a pilot-training course to help you be the best pilot you can be.

Psst… (I use Index Cards)

Llivia-Spain-in-France

Beautiful Llivia. Question: Which country is Llivia in?

NEWS FLASH: Index cards are the most efficient and effective support raising tool available.

I’m kidding, of course. But a statement like that does get attention. Sounds odd, of course, coming from the guy who writes the http://www.TNT.tips blog. I secretly feel like the guy who works for Coca-Cola but doesn’t drink soda. Well, it is not quite like that. Everyone who works for Coke also drinks water, right?

I use TntConnect for my support “almost all of the time”. Yet I do use index cards and consider them an integral part of my support efforts.

When I coach missionaries in raising support, I often tell them that I believe the statement I made above: That index cards are the most efficient and effective tool available.

Why do I say that to them? Do I really want them to eschew TntConnect? Not at all.

Partly I do it just to shock them: Our generation has been lulled into the belief that if you cannot do it electronically, you cannot do it at all (or, at minimum, it is archaic and cumbersome).

But using index cards—instead of software—can help people (okay, me) be more focused. While using my computer during support raising, I cannot tell you how much I have learned about remote islands when I should have been making support-raising phone calls. Did you know that Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island on Earth? Or that Llivia is a Spanish city located entirely within France? (That is, it is an exclave of Spain.)

Two days ago I published a blog post about the Partner Tracking Form. Right after that I created and printed 4×6 index cards (Partner Tracking 4×6) for every donor who has given a gift in the past year. It is my plan over the next 2-3 weeks just to call them.

Using index cards will enable me to do that easily without turning on my computer. This not only will help me avoid distractions (especially email), but will also be faster since I can boot up my index cards even faster than my computer.

Here’s my simple card, with plenty of room to write prayer requests or any note I glean if I happen to reach a real person when I call. I can update TntConnect later.

It is also easier for me to pray for my partners because I can sit in a comfortable chair and just flip through the cards. If I have my computer open… there’s no telling where I’ll end up.

Interested in my 4×6 Index Card? You can download it here and use it with TntConnect’s mail merge. (4×6 is a US measurement; you can adjust it for your “large” index card in your country, if you’re interested.)

Partner-Tracking-4×6

Getting To Know You II

My “personal ministry” in my organization is to help our staff with their personal finances, and I am teaching a class on the subject to high schoolers right now also. One of the most difficult components to teach is Budgeting. If there was ever a skill that was so essential but so overlooked, it would have to be budgeting. (I know that’s not exclusive to budgeting… we all know we need to exercise and eat healthy, yet turning that knowledge into action is so very difficult.)

Recordkeeping and Planning are two disciplines within budgeting that take effort and practice. I was born to keep records; that comes so easily to me I can do it in my sleep. But planning—evaluating, acting on, applying—is not as easily. And that is especially true when I am meeting my financial goals. It is easy to just “slide” and let the machinery run.

Many people (if not most) manage their finances by simply evaluating available reports (either delivered bank statements, or simply viewing transactions online), rather than recording financial transactions in a log (paper, software, or online), and certainly more than evaluating and planning.

How does this relate to TntConnect?

I have found over the years that a lot of missionaries—a majority I dare say—wrestle with both recordkeeping and planning related to their financial support. It is easy to do the two easiest essentials (viewing donations online and keeping up with thank yous).

But getting to know our partners is crucial to long-term growth of our support teams. If we do not record what we know about our partners, that information drifts into oblivion. TNT, more than any other software I have ever seen, makes it easy to both (a) record tons of helpful information about our partners, and (b) through the powerful history engine, record an incalculable volume of relationship-building.

There is a new Getting to Know You resource on the TntConnect Downloads page that may really help you get to know your partners better:

2017-10-31-PartnerTrackingForm

The Partner Tracking Form is available for both US Letter and A4 formats.

This is a document you can use with Mail Merge. It’s helpful for printing before going on appointments so you can refresh your memory, since it is pre-filled with a lot of personal information (phone numbers and emails, birthdays and anniversary, financial commitment, Notes tab, etc.).

Bonus: The Partner Tracking Form contains new mail merge fields never available before! For example, you can now merge the picture if you have one, see all phone numbers, etc.

Other thoughts:

  • You can mail merge this for just one partner by selecting Lookup | This Contact. This will turn your selected contact into the entire “Current Lookup”… perfect for mail merging one contact.

2017-10-31-LookupThisContact

  • You can modify the template if you want to. In my next blog post I will share how I created a 4×6 index card stack for a thank-a-thon I am doing this month.

Resources


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