Happy “New” Year

2020-01-24 Cape Schanck (12) Pulpit Rock

Pulpit Rock, Cape Schanck, near Melbourne, Australia (January 2020)

About a year ago I needed to take a sabbatical from writing TNT.tips because of a major project I am working on in my organization. I can say, looking backwards, that it was a wise decision as 2019 turned out to be the most taxing year of my career in ministry. It reminds me of the day I learned to water ski as a college student, hanging on to a long rope while being pummeled by the wake of the boat.

Thankfully, 2020 has started out at a more reasonable pace… more like a normal year should. With the one exception being that it is February 21 and it feels like January 5! This is due to the lingering holdover from 2019 being wrapped up. (The picture above was from a recent trip to Melbourne where we’re beginning the 2020 project.)

With a window of opportunity, I want to start posting in http://www.TNT.Tips again, using the classic wedding adage…

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

From the “something old” department: In 2015 I created a “video of the week” series for TntMPD. I posted it on a partner site called SmartStory, which hosted our video series pro bono as I was helping them explore this new video training tool.

Unfortunately, within weeks of completing those 52 videos, TntMPD’s name changed to TntConnect. And within about two years, SmartStory discontinued the hosted video product as it was not viable for them or their paid customers; they instead decided only to invest in their main platform.

Even though those videos all say TntMPD on them, the content is the same and the software is (for the most part) unchanged on the described features. Each video is approximately 2 minutes, and are designed to explore a lot of the basics of TNT. I’m confident they still have a lot of value, and will use this blog to post one of them [almost] every week for the next year.

To that end, after I send the introductory video next week, I would encourage you to link others to it who may benefit from learning more about the basics of TNT. And who knows, you may learn something too!

From the “something new” department, you have probably heard that there is a new release of TntConnect coming out very soon, TntConnect 4.0. This is a “major change” for the database, so if you upgrade, your database will be adapted to the new version and no longer work in 3.5.

There are not a lot of new features from a user’s perspective, but the underlying technology is driving this change. Specifically, this change adapts better to the recent improvements in DonorHub, and it also solves a major incompatibility with Mac OS Catalina.

Note: If you import donations into TntConnect using the Tools > Update Donor/Gift Info from File, this feature will not be in 4.0. In my experience keeping an eye on the forums, this feature creates among the highest frequency of help requests and is among the most problematic. Not because of TNT itself, but because of issues with the files that people or ministries create. This feature is a legacy feature from 10-20 years ago when very few organizations could send data via the web. That has changed now, so it’s time to close the loop on this feature.

While this feature is going away, if it is critical to you, then you can keep using 3.5 forever–as long as your system supports it. (Yes, there are still people using TNT 1.6 and 2.0!).

Looking forward a great new year with you!


Blast that Task List

One word: OUCH.


“How many of those 2,000 tasks do you intend to complete?” I asked the staff member I had just stopped by to help with a TNT question. This was a few years back, TntConnect had just had a major upgrade, and this person was trying to figure out a new feature.

Although I was not there about tasks, their overwhelming task list caught my attention as something they might want to look at.

“Well, I only do the thank yous and I just ignore everything else.”

The overwhelming task list complicates life too because the most urgent tasks (like thank yous she was following up on) appear at the bottom of the list, while the oldest, still unfinished tasks, were the only ones that appeared on her screen.

In our perfect world, we always do all of the tasks we need to do, at just the right time, and our task list is always in the zen-spot of “Task List Zero”. That’s not my real life, of course. Some of my tasks I just put off because I don’t want to do them, such as the “Call to check on status of financial commitment” is a tough one for me.

But as this person indicated, their task list was long because they were not relying on TNT to manage their tasks. So the list was growing, but it wasn’t really a “task list” for them.

So two things:

  1. If you find TNT is creating tasks you simply will not check off or use, then turn off those notifications in Tools > Options > Automatic Actions. For example, you may want to keep the “Send thank you for extra gift” or “…special gift”, but turn off some of the other, more passive items.
  2. Do something about the task list. Blast it, I say.

You can easily delete ALL of the items in your task list by following these steps:

  1. Click once to “select” any task in the list (but not the checkbox).
  2. Press Ctrl+A to Select All
  3. Press the Delete key.

You could also delete only one kind of task instead of the whole list. For example, let’s say you wanted to delete only the “Call to check on status of financial commitment” but leave the rest.

To do this:

  1. Click on the Description header to sort by description.
  2. Click once on the first one you want to delete.
  3. Scroll down to the last one.
  4. Press the Shift key, then click on the last one. Now you have one block of tasks selected, but not all of them.
  5. Press the Delete key.

Flexing the Contribution Report

A few moments ago a good friend wrote to ask for advice on the Contribution Report(That links to the 2017 post about this report.)

“We wanted to see last year’s totals, but when we run the report, it shows us February 2018 through February 2019. We then changed the report to go back one more month, but it still shows us two months this year. How can we see only 2018?”

She added that they tried to look at the twelve month total (export) for each partner but that also spanned the year-end.


I offered her one answer and a few workarounds:

Answer: “You are right. You can go back X number of months, but what you cannot do is enter a date range to display months from X to Y.” The report was never designed to do this, which is about its only limitation.

Instead, I offered four options to potentially get the info they sought:

  1. Normally I just send the history of months to Excel the do my calculations and summary in Excel.
  2. If all she wanted was a total for all of last year (or X years in the past) change the report to years and press Update. Then she will get the total per year for each partner.
  3. Export the current group (Group Actions > Export Current Group), but instead of picking “Twelve Month Total”, select “Prev Year Total” to export the stored value for 2018 for each contact.
  4. Use the awesome “Gift Query” which will return all gifts for the selected time frame. Copy and paste the Query text below into File > Utilities > Run Query, and then change the dates to what you want.
select OrgGiftCode, GiftDate, Amount, OrgPaymentMethod, FileAs, MailingAddressBlock, UserName as FundRep FROM (GiftView INNER JOIN Contact on GiftView.ContactID = Contact.ContactID) LEFT JOIN [User] on Contact.FundRepID = [User].UserID
where giftdate between #01/01/2018# and #12/31/2018#