Right-click to change Gift Input

Here’s a tip you will probably only use once, if ever. But if you need it, you’ll be glad you knew about it.

You can change the behaviour of the Gift Input button by right-clicking on it.

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The Gift Input button is actually just a shortcut. The default shortcut goes to “Tools | Update Gift Info” for the web-input screen. But about 40% of TNT users cannot download gifts, and many of these use the Manual Gift Entry Form to get their gifts in quickly.

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So, by right-clicking you can change the button to go to Tools | Manual Gift Entry Form instead.

When you use the Manual Gift Entry Form (or manually enter gifts one-at-a-time on the TNT Tab), TntConnect still performs the same Automatic Actions for New Gifts that it does for downloaded gifts.

There are some organizations that have made a technology change and they no longer support gift download. If your organization has changed your ability to download gifts, and you now have to enter gifts manually, you can do this in just a few minutes each month and still get all the power of TNT at your fingertips.

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“His” and “Her” Partners

Only an accountant would love this, I’m sure.

My wife I both served with our organization prior to getting married, and we were both fully supported at the time of our marriage.

One of the fields on the “Family” tab in TNT is the “Family Side” field. This is used in conjunction with the “Family Level” field to denote the relationship:

  • His / Sibling
  • Hers / Aunt
  • His / Cousin
  • Hers / Nephew/Niece (below)

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We have many relatives in our database, but most of them are not financial partners, and there is no value for me to track giving by that relationship.

Instead, I use the “Family Side” field to indicate who has the closer relationship with the partner (practically, whose database were they in before we were married?). Since our marriage, I have continued to use the Family Side to represent new partners; for example, if the referral came from one of my before-marriage partners… sort of a referral chain. I use “None” for new partners who joined our team because of us as a couple—and I am surprised at how few of those there are.

Even today—approaching our 20th wedding anniversary—almost every one of our new partners is the result of relationships built from our early days in ministry and their successive referrals.

Why is this useful for me? Again, only an accountant would love this… but I use it to help me analyze where the growth of our financial partners comes from–and where to invest my future energy.

If you look at the chart below, you can see that over the past 15 years or so, almost all of the growth in new giving has come from partners associated with my former partners. It is not that I have not tried to cultivate new support and new referrals from my wife’s home support base. I have tried! And God has raised up new partners to replace those who have stopped giving. But the practical reality is that when it comes to my time, I see far more success in broadening the support from my side.

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So why do I share this? Do I think YOU should start using His & Hers this way? Probably not (unless you are weird like me!). But the greater value is in seeing creative new ways to use TntConnect to help you. TNT was not designed to track support this way; I just figured out how to do something I wanted it to do, and have found it really helpful.

Hi, Clark, meet Clark

I am absolutely convinced that when it comes to interpersonal relations, the digital age has hindered us, not helped us.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, my mother had a “Day Timer” brand address book–which she filled out by hand. It was the handiest little tool for her. It had tiny little rings and she could add pages whenever she got too many names for one letter of the alphabet. In the box with each address, there was actually a set of little checkboxes and she could record sending and receiving Christmas cards each year from each person in her list.

She had that book for years–maybe two decades. Never lost it or left it anywhere. And in it she had every name and address of significance to her. She hand-addressed every Christmas card she sent.

Fast forward 30-40 years, and tell me if our lives have improved:

  • Now I have multiple name and address tools.
  • I have TntConnect, my phone’s Contacts app, several email systems, online address lists for Boy Scouts or our school groups or our church small groups.
  • Most of these lists still do not synchronize with each other.
  • And even more than that, everyone I know now has about 10-15 “addresses, #, @, and phone numbers” vs. the one address and two phone numbers (home and work) they used to have.
  • And this is easier?!

Of course, the irony here is that we have more information about our friends than ever before, yet it is harder to reach them than ever.

I think we dream of a time when every we will have a “one stop shop” for every name and address.

In the meantime, at least, TntConnect does at least help you avoid duplicates in one system. When I enter a new contact–or download a gift from a person for the first time–TntConnect scans through my database to see if that person may already be in my database. For example, if I enter Clark Kent as a new contact in my database, TntConnect not only checks to see if there is a Clark Kent already in there, but even the addresses too (to see if “Clark Kent” on 123 Maple St. is the same as “Lois Kent” on 123 Maple St.).

This type of duplicate checking is a handy little feature that in the big picture does not make a major difference. But it is a nice thing, and I appreciate it.

Oooops… wrong place!

There are two places in TntConnect where I find information ending up in the wrong place.

  1. Right address… wrong place. Because I download gifts from my organization, the address for a business, or even a special mailing address, ends up as the “Home” address for a partner.
  2. Right history… wrong person. I have, on occasion, logged History for the wrong contact.

In both cases I can easily move to the correct spot just by right-clicking. Just this week I was working on my office database (for ministry fund development), and discovered we had two contacts that were the same–and both had gifts and tasks/history associated with them. In moments I was able to merge the donor accounts and migrate all tasks/history to the correct contact.

For the address, on the Address tab I can right-click on the address and select “Move to” to switch it to one of the other address options for the same contact. (You cannot move an address to a different contact.)

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On the History and Task tabs, I can “send” an item to another contact, again just by right-clicking on the desired item.

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The other TntConnect tip here, in case you did not catch it, is that TNT has a number of secret “right-click” features. Every once in a while, just right-click somewhere… you might learn something new!

TntConnect: Not just for support raising

Quick question: Did you know that TntConnect can be used for more than support raising?

My main ministry calling is helping missionaries and ministries use God’s money wisely. Typically, this means helping them with assorted financial management tools (such as TntConnect). But it also means helping them with software like Microsoft Office products and other accounting and finance software. I also do a lot of coaching both for support raising and personal financial stewardship.

Because I have met with over 1,000 people in these activities over the past 12 years, I have found that keeping a separate TntConnect database just for this purpose is very helpful. Especially when I am serving as a support raising coach and meet with someone every week, it is so helpful to use TntConnect’s powerful history engine to track our appointments, and their commitments for the week. I have used it to track classes I have taught all over the world, and even tech support work I have done–sometimes years later–with people who attended those classes.

Only 20% of the contacts in my TntConnect databases are current donors to our ministry work.

TntConnect could be very useful for anyone who is involved in a regular coaching or discipleship context. It could also be useful for tracking attendance at events of various kinds.

And, from a non-ministry perspective, TntConnect would be useful for anyone who wants a powerful tracking tool for tracking their work in a non-profit, in a community setting, or even as a sales/customer relationship tool.

Of course TntConnect is designed primarily for support raising, and its gift-management features are what make it unique. And there are many tools out there, especially online, that are designed for managing tasks and relationships. But the History engine in TntConnect is so powerful and fast that it really sets TntConnect apart from any other software in the world (in my opinion). Lately I have been test driving other support raising software, and I have never seen any software that manages tasks/history with anything even close to the power TNT does.

Plus, I like using the same software for both ministry and non-ministry… then I am only managing one tool.

Food for thought.

Saved Descriptions: Easy & Consistent

They say that a couple in love gets to know each other so well that they can complete each other’s sentences. I guess that means I love TntConnect, because it always completes my sentences when I write descriptions!

Last year I devoted focused attention to support raising for several months. During that time I completed 1,119 unique tasks, including dialing the phone, appointments, writing thank yous, seeing partners at church, recording text messages, etc. (this number does not include newsletters sent).

Almost 500 of those were phone dials and appointments/unscheduled visits. Because I may dial the phone 5-10 times before actually talking to a person, I find myself writing the same description over and over again, things like:

  • “Call for Decision”
  • “Follow-up to appointment”
  • “Initial support appointment” (whether I am calling for the appointment or going on the appointment itself)
  • “Drive-by Visit” (for unscheduled visits)

Rather than re-type that description every time—and maybe type it a little differently each time, at this moment I have 27 “saved descriptions” that I commonly use. Some have been there for 14 years (such as “Sent Brochure” and “Call for Initial Appointment”), while others are new this year just for the current strategy I am working on, and will be deleted when I am done with the strategy.

The handy thing about saved descriptions is that I can just start typing in the Description box, and TNT will auto-fill from the saved list. This makes dialing the phone a lot easier.

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You can read more about the Saved Descriptions feature in the Log History tutorial in the TNT help. (Scroll down to the “Tip: Saved Descriptions…” section.)

Consumer Tip: Given that so many attempts to reach a contact do not work, if the result is “Attempted“, then I add the cause of failure at the end. For example: “Call for Decision (no answer)” or “Call for Decision (left message)”.

Watch the short video on writing good descriptions.

Summer Time is Support Time

Ludvig (not his real name) was on a full-time support trip with his wife, Ethel, and their one-year-old child. They had been given 8 weeks to focus on support raising. Their goal was $1000 in new monthly support, which was just a portion of the $2300 they needed to raise to be at “full support” for their now larger family.

They were acquaintances of mine, though we did not work closely together (i.e., we were not on the same team). Three weeks into their trip, I was in Central America on a ministry trip and felt a sudden prompting of the Holy Spirit just to email him and ask him how it was going.

He told me that in the first three weeks they had raised $50.

My heart sank. I asked him, “Who is your support coach?”

“We don’t have one.”

“Would you like one?”

“Yes.”

“I will coach you, but you have to do exactly as I ask.” (I do not normally do support coaching.)

“Agreed.”

Over the next couple of days I spent 2-3 hours on the phone with him, talking about their travel plans for the upcoming weeks, as well as how many people they intended to visit, etc.

The first thing I discovered was that they were not challenging any of their partners to increase. They were very fortunate that almost all of their partners were clustered in a three-state area. They planned to visit more than 50-75 current donors, but were not challenging any of them! “We have not seen them for several years. It feels awkward to ask for increases. So I just want to connect. Maybe get some new names.”

We talked through that, after which I asked him one question: “Is the purpose of this trip to raise new support, or to ‘connect’ with existing partners?”

After a pause: “Raise new support.” I then told him he needed to prioritize:

  • IF his purpose was new support, THEN he needed to do ONLY those activities that were consistent with that goal.
  • I reminded him he was already continually “connecting” with them through their newsletter, thank yous, etc.
  • I told him he needed to challenge both financially and for referrals in every appointment.
  • I also told him, humorously but frankly, that having a 1-year-old in tow was the very best resource he had: “If there was ever a compelling reason to ask for additional support, that is it!”

He owned his goal and the steps; he did not do it because I asked him to, but because I was helping him reach his goal. Not every partner increased and not every partner gave names. But most did.

After the remaining 5 weeks, he told me they had raised over $1000 new monthly, and had extended their trip another 3-5 weeks because they had so many new names to follow-up on and they were experiencing continued success. In the end, they saw God provide more than $1300 in new monthly commitments, and maintaining the same focus part-time over the following year saw the remaining $1000 come in.

To manage this and work with him, I also required him to use TntConnect to log everything: every phone call, text message, appointment, etc…. then send me the weekly “Coaches Report” found on the Analysis View.

Action Point: I share this story not to burden you, but to encourage you to try some things with your support raising:

  1. Just Ask. If you have not challenged your supporters to increase their giving lately, just ask. Make it a goal to challenge 90% of your partners to increase. But please, please, do NOT do it through a form letter. Face-to-face appointment, by handwritten letter, or by phone.
  2. Focus. If you need to raise support, don’t do any other support raising activity. Every activity you do should be focused on that one thing. Defer other important things (such as making a brochure, reshuffling names in a spreadsheet, making cookies) to later.
  3. Use TntConnect to help you build and manage an increase strategy. Use the new Campaign Builder I referenced two weeks ago to help you quickly identify your four tiers of contacts, so you can develop a fund-raising strategy specific for each tier. Or use the new Exclusive Saved Groups to move your existing contacts through a structured increase strategy of namestorming, ask for appointments, challenge, call for response, etc.