(Almost) As sweet as Chocolate

I am writing from Switzerland, and that is apropos because I love chocolate. One of my favourite books is The Emperors of Chocolate, the definitive (and only) history of both the Hershey Company and Mars Chocolates.

In November I was in Brussels—the chocolate capital of the world—walking around the city square literally giddy with excitement at the sheer volume of chocolate stores (as well as the free samples, he he).

I came on this current trip with the wrapper of a chocolate I bought in Brussels, hoping against hope I might find it here in Switzerland.

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My kids’ stuffed animals travel with me–and were thrilled to meet the Milka Cow in the airport in Amsterdam.

What does chocolate have to do with Saved Groups / User Fields? Well—give me a minute, okay, sure, it’s stretch—I love them both. And there are subtle qualities that just raise them to the level of excellence. And the more you know about them, the more you appreciate them.

Do you like milk chocolate or dark chocolate? Many people have pretty strong feelings about them, typically preferring one over the other. I like them both… the right chocolate for the right time.

Well, Saved Groups and User Fields are like that. Both chocolate, and yet subtly different. And both magical.

Let’s say you are passionate about chocolate like I am. So much so that you always ask your partners what their favourite chocolates are. Then you have to record this information in TntConnect, and you can use either a User Field or a Saved Group. Both will accomplish the goal—but have different virtues.

Favourite Chocolate as a User Field: (This appears as a drop-down, with the list growing automatically as I add new chocolates.)

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Favourite Chocolate as a Saved Group:

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Favourite Chocolate as a Saved Group, using the new ‘nested’ groups.

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One blog post cannot even begin to scratch the surface of the virtues of Saved Groups and User Fields—for they are many. Over this week I will be exploring some of these features, as they are related to TntConnect 3.2.

In the meantime, I need to go take a walk and find some chocolate.

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Major Changes to Saved Groups / Sub-groups

TntConnect 3.2 introduces two major changes to the way the Saved Groups handles sub-groups.

1. The “Category” has been replaced by a “Parent Group”

In TNT 3.1 and earlier, you could see a Category of Saved Group, with sub-groups below it:

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In the above example, the Category is “Other Newsletters“, but that is just a label for the sub-groups to be hung under.

In TntConnect 3.2, that Category is gone, replaced by a “Parent Group”. Now, “Other Newsletters” is also a Saved Group–and Contacts can be added to it. Then, sub-groups can be added to it.

2. New, “unlimited nested sub-groups” allows you to make additional sub-groups under any sub-group. There are no limits to how many layers you can make (you may not want 10 layers, but you could make them!)

Example. Goal: Create a sub-group for my Christmas letter, which is already a sub-group of my “Other Newsletters” parent group above:

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On the Groups Tab, these groups will appear like this. Notice that the “Handwritten Note” sub-group is a three-group string separated by slashes:

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Notice in this image that “Other Newsletters” is now its own Saved Group which this contact can also be added to. This set of sub-groups is NOT exclusive, which you can tell because it is not blue. That means that one contact can be in any or all of the nested sub-groups.

I will not go into detail here about why a “Parent Group” is better than a Category, other than to say this: Having a parent group is super-helpful when building a strategy that you want to move a lot of contacts through (such as an Increase Strategy). I will explain this more in a future blog post.

Drumroll please: EXCLUSIVE Saved Groups

Exclusive Saved Groups means that a contact may only be in ONE of the sub-groups, unlike previously when a contact could be in multiple groups in the category.

I have longed for this feature for years. Indeed, my video on using Saved Groups to manage an Increase Strategy would have been substantially easier had Exclusive Saved Groups been available back then!

Basics of Exclusive Saved Groups:

  • Only available by right-clicking in the Groups list and selecting “New Exclusive Group”
  • Can have “nested exclusive saved groups” (also new in 3.2, and covered in an upcoming blog post)
  • When you add a contact to the Exclusive Saved Group and that contact is already in a related exclusive group, that contact will be removed (without notification) from the other group. (You can see this happen if you check the box on the Groups tab)
  • Are more visible on the Groups tab. Now, instead of a simple, long list of all Groups, all exclusive saved groups are in blue and have a line above and below the exclusive set.

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There are several subtle nuances that I do not have room to explain here, but you can learn about through trial-and-error.

Not all sub-groups should be exclusive

There are times, of course, when you want one contact to be allowed in multiple sub-groups. For example, I have a “Newsletters” category that has four different newsletter options. The regular newsletter preferences (Paper, Email, etc., + multiple languages introduced in 3.1) are not helpful if you have multiple newsletters in the same language.

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In this example, it is possible that one contact could receive multiple newsletters—such as the Christmas Newsletter and the Prayer Blast.

A Plethora of Saved Group Enhancements

TntConnect 3.2 has over two dozen new features, several of which are related to Saved Groups. There is not enough room in a blog post to focus on all of them, so I will expand on them bit-by-bit over the next few days.

But to whet your appetite, here is a quick list of the new features:

  • New “Exclusive Saved Groups” now restricts one contact to only ONE of the sub-groups.
  • Exclusive Saved Groups are an option, not a switch. You can still have sub-groups that are not exclusive.
  • Change from previously: A saved group “category” previously was only a category, but only the sub-groups could have contacts. Now the “category” is replaced with a “parent group” which can also have sub-groups.
    • And the parent group can be exclusive with the sub-groups. Or not exclusive.
  • Sub-groups can now have unlimited sub-groups as well. These are called “nested saved groups”.
  • Exclusive Saved Groups are displayed on the Groups Tab both in blue text (to indicate exclusive) and separated above and below by a line (to indicate the set of exclusivity).
  • You can now click once on a saved group name to edit it (you can still double-click to edit the name, as before).
  • You can right-click on a saved group and select duplicate. If the saved group you are duplicating has sub-groups, then all of the sub-groups will duplicate as well. (Helpful for building a new strategy off of a previous one.)
  • You can now make any saved group into a searchable/editable/exportable contact field.
  • Any time you move a contact in or out of a saved group, that is logged as a data change in their history. (Which can also be hidden from the history.) If multiple contacts are moved together, the history item is one entry for all of the contacts (that is, Group Log History).
  • The new Campaign Builder, when run, automatically creates and names exclusive saved groups for the strategy.
  • When the Campaign Builder is run, the contacts are automatically linked to the exclusive saved group.

Edit Group Name in One Click

This tip should save you at least 0.0001 seconds of work. Actually, all it does is slightly change TNT so that this item does what people expect it to.

Prior to TntConnect 3.2, you needed to double-click on a Saved Group to edit the name:

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Now you can edit by clicking once on the group name, then clicking once to edit:

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I admit, this new “feature” may not be one to write home about. But what it does is simply respond “like users expect it to”. Double-clicking is not intuitive for all users.

(You still need to double click to define the Parent Group (formerly “Category”).

This is really just to whet your appetite: Over the next two weeks I will be devoting upwards of ten posts to the powerful new features of Saved Groups.

Undo (Revert) or Hide Data Changes

This week I have been highlighting the many ways that TntConnect 3.2 logs data changes that you make. These are especially helpful in a multi-user (team) environment, but I think they are helpful even to individuals and couples. There are times when I have looked back and asked (like I did just this week)… “When did I change that partner’s address?” or something like that.

One of the great things about the new data change features is that you can Undo them if they were done in error. This is called “Revert“. To do this, just right click on any data change log entry and select Revert Data Changes (see picture below).

Although the data changes may be helpful to some, there may be times you do not want to see them… or maybe you never want to see them. If so, just check the Hide Change Logs box at the top.

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There is one type of data change log that can grow really fast: When Group Membership Changes. In December I was working on my year-end newsletter, which I send to a particularly large group of ministry partners, families, and friends. I do this each year by combining several lists together into a one temporary Saved Group. Once the newsletter is completed, I deleted the saved groups.

The new change logs recorded each time I added or removed someone to the Newsletter group, which I had to do several times to get the list correct. Suddenly I had more than 1000 group membership changes in my history.

TntConnect 3.2 recognizes this could be overwhelming or unnecessary for most people, so it has a way to hide the group membership changes even from the “Hide Change Logs” display. (They will still be recorded, but never displayed unless you uncheck the box in Tools | Options.)

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For that oddly frequent partner

It’s official! TntConnect 3.2 is now available for download. Whether you have already downloaded the Beta version or not, go to the Downloads page and download the most current release. Over the coming days I will be sharing about lots of new features.


It must have been 10 years ago when I first received this request in a training room:

“How do I mark a partner who gives weekly?”

Simple question, but caught me by surprise, since I had never had such a partner. On my team:

  • 82% give monthly
  • 10% give annually
  • 8% give bi-monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual (e.g., 2-3 each)

Then I was in Australia and received a similar question:

“How do I mark a partner who gives fortnightly?”

I’ve read enough British literature to know that term, but I doubt most Americans would know “fortnightly” means “once every two weeks”. (Which is different from “semi-monthly”, since in a year there are 24 semi-months but 26 fortnights.)

Well, good news for those who have partners who give very frequently: TntConnect 3.2 now offers both weekly and fortnightly pledge frequency options.

So here’s the interesting thing: After 22 years in ministry, one of my most generous partners emailed me to let me know they had an unusual change in their finances and that for a couple of years they would be giving… weekly.

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By the way, there is also the partner who gives “sporadic gifts”. This is a partner who pledges, typically monthly, but ends up giving inconsistently and “less than monthly”; for example, 7-8-9 times per year. No pledge frequency can accommodate that, nor does TNT allow for you to give an “estimated annual total” where you could enter the amount they usually give over the year… divided by 12.

If you mark them as PARTNER-Special, then you get an auto-task every time they give. If you mark them as PARTNER-Financial, then their giving will always be a little off from their pledge.

My answer to the question on how to handle this has always been: Just be grateful for it. We cannot expect TNT to accommodate every creative way a partner gives. Again, in my own history, over 25 years I have only had two partners who gave sporadically–and kept doing it for several years. But their very sporadic-ness actually generated greater awareness for me… because it was always something new, always a surprise. (For your reference, I marked both of them as PARTNER-Special, because they were too inconsistent to be truly reliable for my monthly goal.)

Here’s a helpful reference guide: Dealing With Gifts. This reference guide covers 13 different ways gifts are given (either from a partner or even from you to a partner), and how to handle those using TntConnect.


One final note: The first time I ever heard about a “sporadic giver”, I was in an orientation for new missionaries in my agency. Problem was, the speaker was using the wrong word. While talking about gifts and thank yous, she asked, “How do you deal with a spastic giver?”