Squirrels … and data-nuts


I do not profess to be an expert on squirrels, though they are fun to watch. They are always scurrying about, collecting food and stocking it away. And they seem to have a lot of fun with their friends!

As I understand it (again, not an expert), squirrels put away a lot of nuts (or acorns in my yard)… nuts they do not always remember later. But since they have a lot stockpiled, they can get some when they need it. Some observations on squirrels:

  • There are harvest times where there are more nuts and acorns than there are at other times.
  • When the harvest is plentiful, squirrels are busy gathering.
  • God has designed some animals to be “storers” (like squirrels) and others to trust Him for every meal (like deer). One is not more spiritual than the other.
  • Squirrels are fun.

I have a couple of take-aways from watching these squirrels in my yard:

  • There are harvest times in my own ministry, where it is easier (internally or externally) for me to raise support than at other times. Internally (often within my control) is that I have time to focus; externally (outside of my control) when the economy is perceived to be better, or a church is hosting a missions conference, etc.
  • When the harvest time is ripe, I should be busy connecting with my ministry partners, to prepare for the leaner times.
  • God has called me to a ministry that believes in preparing and storing. Other ministries do fund-raising differently than mine, and that’s okay.
  • Missionaries should be fun! I want my ministry partners to want me around.

What does this have to do with TntConnect? Well, a loose association, but this:

  • When I engage with my partners, I am always collecting tidbits about them. What they like, what interests them, what their communication preferences are, hobbies, children, etc.
  • I also store away all of the acorns of my engagement with them—my phone calls, personal visits, cards, etc.
  • TntConnect makes it easy for me to store all of these nuts. Like the squirrel, I may never use (or even see) some of this information again. But when I do need it, there it is, neatly stored away.
  • Let’s face it; I’m a data nut. For me, not to collect and store all of this stuff… is, well, just plain nuts.

One final thought: For squirrels, sometimes the acorns they pick up actually sprout before they can eat them. God uses the squirrels’ efforts to build the forest! Similarly, God uses my interaction with ministry partners to bless them in ways that may never benefit me or maybe that I will ever even know about.


Add Referrals from the Selected Contact


There are two ways to add referrals from a contact already in your database. The first is before you enter the new contact’s name, while the second is to link the referrer to an existing contact.

Quick notes about the “Referred by” box on the TNT Tab:

  • A contact can have multiple referrers. This is the “Referred by List”.
  • When there is more than one referrer, the Referred by words are bold
  • Referred by is a hyperlink that brings up the referral list. You then click on the one you want to be primary, which will show all of the time.
  • The referral does not need to be a contact in your database, or even a person at all. You could write “2010 Church Missions Conference”, for example.

How to add referrals

  • Add Referrals quick entry screen.
    • First select the contact who is giving you names.
    • Then select Contact | Add Referrals from the menu.
    • Using the quick entry screen you can enter just the new contact’s names, addresses, email and phone numbers… the basic information.
    • The phone number automatically lands in the Home Phone box; if it’s a mobile phone, you’ll need to move it later. (In the phone number list, you can right-click on the phone number and just move it.)
    • You can add a new contact from a referrer even if the “new” contact is already in your database.
    • If TntConnect recognizes the contact as already being in your list, it will simply ask you if you want to add the current referrer to this list of referrers; neat feature!
    • By default, TntConnect enters the referrer as First and Spouse Lastname (e.g., Mickey and Minnie Mouse), not by File As (Mouse, Mickey and Minnie), which makes sorting the list more challenging it if you export it.
    • TIP: Because TNT doesn’t always write the referrer name the way I might, when I use a lookup, I always use “contains” instead of “Begins with”:


  • If you already have a contact in your database for whom you want to add a referrer, you can do that directly from the TNT tab.
    • If you erase a referrer and add a new one, TntConnect actually does not erase the old one.
    • It simply adds a new one to the contact’s list of referrers, and makes the newest one the primary (displayed) referrer.


A deceased advertising exec helps me with support raising

This is a free bonus post about support raising, not really related to TntConnect.

I just stopped in to Staples (an office supply store in the U.S.), and honestly it was to use the restroom and not to buy office supplies.

As I left the restroom, I passed some of their office furniture, and on a desk was a stray book from their very tiny book rack. It was titled It’s Not How Good You are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, by Paul Arden—an advertising executive who passed away in 2008.

Curious, I picked it up to see if I could get the gist of it in 5 seconds before leaving the store. It was a small book with big page headings, wide margins, and a large font. Two minutes later I was sitting in one of the office chairs skimming the book. Ten minutes later I had skimmed about 75% of it. Then I purchased it and left the store with it.

Why is that?

Because I realized the book was about support raising.

My main takeaway—which I hope to gather more of when I can actually sit down and read it fully—is that my attitude is the #1 predictor of my forward motion. But I also got some other things from this rapid skimming:

  • The easiest way to get to a goal is to write it down in the first place and pursue it unswervingly
  • Failure is awesome and extremely helpful. The most successful people have failed a lot. It’s the people who play it safe who never seem to move forward much.
  • It’s a lot easier to talk to a client (e.g., potential ministry partner) in a language they understand… instead of trying to get them to understand my language.

And this isn’t the first book that struck me this way.

Outside of the support-raising “greats” (Funding Your Ministry and The God Ask), the greatest book I ever read on raising financial support was The 7 Deadly Diseases of Ministry Marketing by Doug Brendel. A book about fund-development for small (and large) ministries, I ‘found’ it in the lobby of a hotel at a conference on ministry operations that I was attending in February 1999.

This was not a book for any of my sessions, and another attendee must have either discarded it or forgotten it. Or so I thought when I picked it up and skimmed the chapter headings. But God had put it there for me, and it absolutely transformed how I both think and act about raising financial support for my ministry.

In November 2012 I read The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough. This deeply-researched history on the building of the Panama Canal contains, smack dab in the middle, several pages about an obscure Frenchman, Philippe Bunau-Varilla, who undertook to get the forsaken project sold to a leery American Congress. Thirty thousand people died while the French tried to build the Panama Canal before abandoning it 10% finished. The U.S. government was intent on building a canal, but in Nicaragua. How did he almost single-handedly change the mind of hundreds of key decision-makers? By employing the very same principles of building relationships that are so critical to raising personal support:

  • Believing unswervingly in our calling
  • Seeking referrals at every opportunity
  • Being generous with gifts to those who support our work
  • Thanking everyone who should be thanked, immediately

My point in sharing about these three books is that in each of these cases, these books had absolutely nothing to do with raising personal financial support. Yet amazingly, it is from unlikely sources like these I have found some of the most helpful principles that I apply in my support raising.

(The connection to TntConnect: TntConnect helps me put these principles into practice.)