Forwarding Order Expired

I just got a handful of my recent newsletters returned by the post office marked as “Undeliverable”. How do these things happen?

It turns out that I had not done a Tools | Update Donor Info recently. This connects to my organization and checks all addresses to see if the ministry has a more recent one. Several of my donors had moved (some I knew had moved but I did not have the correct address; others were a complete surprise).

After the sync, I had 35 contacts who had an address, phone, or email change. It is surprisingly common for a donor to alert the organization but forget to tell the missionary. (This is because the donor needs to change banking information or a receipt address.)

When a contact’s address/phone in TntConnect has an unresolved discrepancy with my organization’s address/phone, their address/phone will be bold and orange. There is a special Lookup just to find and resolve all these issues

After I did the donor info update, TNT offered to display the 35 discrepancies. But if I did not resolve them right away, I can still find them all later by going to:

Lookup | Unreviewed Account Info

If I see the organization’s address is one I know is an old address, I contact the office so they can update their address.

When I click on a bold orange address (or phone or email), TNT will display the Account Info box which shows me the donor information “from the organization’s view”.

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I can then click on the out-of-sync item and either Accept it (accept the organization’s version) or Ignore it (keep what I have already), if I think mine is more correct for me.

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In my experience, the organization’s address for my donor is usually more accurate. But the email or phone I have is usually more accurate than the ministry’s. This makes sense because donors change their email and phone #s a lot more frequently than their addresses, and they generally do not broadcast those little changes to businesses.

There are two very helpful topics in the Help Guides with a lot more detail about this subject:

View Organization Info (about the Organization details for this contact)

Update Donor Info (about the Tools menu link)

Oh, one more thing… even if the address is not Bold and Orange, you can easily get to the Organization Account Info either by selecting Contact | View [Org] Details, or just by clicking the Account number on the far right of the Name & Address Bar:

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“Please Pray for Me”

I put that title in quotes because I am not asking you readers to pray for me personally, but rather this blog post is about how to handle prayer requests from your donors.

One of the wonderful aspects of being a supported missionary is the opportunity we have to pray for our partners. Praying for our partners is a wonderful way to minister to them–to exercise partnership.

There are a few different ways to easily track prayer requests. Some users create a “To Do” task, and there are certainly benefits to that. It is possible to create it as a task and either not check it as “completed” until I stop praying for it; or, you can “complete” it and then having a recurring task re-create it perpetually.

I tried that once, but found that once I had two dozen or more prayer requests, my “actual” support-raising tasks (phone calls, appointments, and thank yous) were obscured. Of course I could filter calls and thank yous, but even so, the ‘urgent’ items I found were not as visible.

I personally do not view prayer as a “task”. I do not pray for someone and then check it off as “completed”.

What I have found that works well for me is actually logging the prayer request in TNT’s “jet engine”… the History Log.

I create a To Do history item (as if I had Done it). In the description I prefix the request with “PRAY:”, like this:

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Then I can go to the History View, select All as the time frame, and type PRAY: in the text filter, like this:

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When I am finished praying for this specific request, I can keep it in my history by editing the description. For example, I can change PRAY: to PRAY (DONE):

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By doing this, it will no longer appear in my prayer request filter in the History View.

See a video on this topic

Sweet Child of Mine

Over the years I have fielded many questions, thoughts, and suggestions on countless topics. But few have engendered as many differing opinions than how TntConnect handles “children”.

As most TNT users know, the Family Tab offers only one field for children information. While the yellow box is not particularly limited in length, practically it is limited to the 46 characters I can see on the screen. It does not do me much good to enter 500 characters of data if I cannot see it except by exporting.

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TNT is a “data-lovers tool”, and this is one field where data-lovers would love a lot more.

For example, several users have asked me for a table where they can list every child, have a birthday for every child (which appears on the Birthday & Anniversary Report), list the spouse of every child, and have a memo field to write notes about the children, their hobbies, etc.

Others have asked for a bigger box, others for… whatever. Bottom line–lots of different ideas. I’m not the developer, so my answer is always to explain “How to do what you want to do with using what TNT already delivers”. 🙂

So the simple answer / simple solution to this situation is either:

  1. Just use the Children field as delivered, or
  2. Set up children as separate contacts in TntConnect.

In my own personal database, I have about five families where parents and children are separate contacts (and separate donors in many cases).

Once I set up the child as their own contact, then I can record everything in delicious detail: All of their bio data (birthday, church, hobbies, spouse, etc.), and any relationship activity (birthday cards, summer mission trip support, graduations, etc.).

Tracking Chance Encounters

Visiting your home church and meet a partner in the lobby? Walking through the grocery store and chat with a partner in the checkout line? Taking an afternoon to visit partners without calling in advance? TntConnect has a special way to record these visits.

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Of course you could just use the “Appointment” task type, but that doesn’t really capture the nuance of an interaction with a partner.

An Appointment implies a commitment to meet–I made a phone call, set up a time, we are going to visit, there is an intent to the discussion (maintenance, challenge, etc.).

An Unscheduled Visit implies no expectations. I just want to connect, say Hi, thank you, show that you matter to me.

Why should you record Unscheduled Visits? Because these are relationally important. Even though they do not carry the same ministry relevance as a traditional “appointment” where you discuss your ministry, partners remember these sudden, short visits, and truly appreciate them.

Unscheduled Visits are typically one of these two things:

Intentional

You are visiting your home area and driving around to visit your partners unannounced. In this case, the visit itself is unscheduled (you have not scheduled it in advance), but it is intentional (because you wanted to do it).

Unintentional

You have a ‘chance encounter’ with a partner, often at an unexpected location (such as a store, a restaurant, a park, etc.).

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Humor note: Once in the forum someone asked, “I am trying to schedule an afternoon of driving around to visit partners, but Unscheduled Visit is not in the list…” 🙂 Not all task types available to History are available as Tasks. By design, an ‘unscheduled visit’ cannot be ‘scheduled’.