Getting To Know You II

My “personal ministry” in my organization is to help our staff with their personal finances, and I am teaching a class on the subject to high schoolers right now also. One of the most difficult components to teach is Budgeting. If there was ever a skill that was so essential but so overlooked, it would have to be budgeting. (I know that’s not exclusive to budgeting… we all know we need to exercise and eat healthy, yet turning that knowledge into action is so very difficult.)

Recordkeeping and Planning are two disciplines within budgeting that take effort and practice. I was born to keep records; that comes so easily to me I can do it in my sleep. But planning—evaluating, acting on, applying—is not as easily. And that is especially true when I am meeting my financial goals. It is easy to just “slide” and let the machinery run.

Many people (if not most) manage their finances by simply evaluating available reports (either delivered bank statements, or simply viewing transactions online), rather than recording financial transactions in a log (paper, software, or online), and certainly more than evaluating and planning.

How does this relate to TntConnect?

I have found over the years that a lot of missionaries—a majority I dare say—wrestle with both recordkeeping and planning related to their financial support. It is easy to do the two easiest essentials (viewing donations online and keeping up with thank yous).

But getting to know our partners is crucial to long-term growth of our support teams. If we do not record what we know about our partners, that information drifts into oblivion. TNT, more than any other software I have ever seen, makes it easy to both (a) record tons of helpful information about our partners, and (b) through the powerful history engine, record an incalculable volume of relationship-building.

There is a new Getting to Know You resource on the TntConnect Downloads page that may really help you get to know your partners better:


The Partner Tracking Form is available for both US Letter and A4 formats.

This is a document you can use with Mail Merge. It’s helpful for printing before going on appointments so you can refresh your memory, since it is pre-filled with a lot of personal information (phone numbers and emails, birthdays and anniversary, financial commitment, Notes tab, etc.).

Bonus: The Partner Tracking Form contains new mail merge fields never available before! For example, you can now merge the picture if you have one, see all phone numbers, etc.

Other thoughts:

  • You can mail merge this for just one partner by selecting Lookup | This Contact. This will turn your selected contact into the entire “Current Lookup”… perfect for mail merging one contact.


  • You can modify the template if you want to. In my next blog post I will share how I created a 4×6 index card stack for a thank-a-thon I am doing this month.


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Go Bigger with F7/F12

Here’s a quick tip for you, which can be particularly helpful when calling new contacts: You can enlarge the Name & Address by pressing F7 or F12. (Both keys work the same, and that’s due to historic differences between Macs & PCs.)


This will pop up an address box on top of the Contacts View, but without interfering with it. You can still navigate between tabs (e.g., TNT tab, History).

I find this particularly helpful when calling new contacts because I may not be familiar with their names and this makes it very bold so I do not stumble at the moment I start talking to them.

There are a few other keystrokes you may find helpful:

  • F1 opens the integrated help (either in a web browser or on your computer, depending on your settings).
  • F2 toggles the Views bar (far left) on or off.
  • F3 toggles the contact list (Current Lookup & Current Group). These two (F2 & F3) are used primarily in a situation where your display is tight, which was much more common 15 years ago!
  • F5 refreshes your list (sometimes a list of contacts or actions has been changed; in 15 years I have never pressed this button…)
  • F8 displays the System Info which can be helpful when submitting an entry to the online forum.
  • Ctrl+R opens the Add Referrals box (or… Contact | Add Referrals).

All shortcuts in TntConnect

Um, 8 months ago you…

Let’s be honest for a moment. Many missionaries find it difficult to follow-up with their partners after the partner does something. Case in point: Last month one of our partners gave the largest gift we have ever received. When did I thank them? Four weeks later. Ugh. How does that happen?

In my case, I was out of the country when the gift came. I came home to a hurricane-ravaged yard that took countless hours–every free hour I was home it felt like–to clean up (the FEMA debris haulers just came today to wrap it up, and used four semi trucks to haul our debris alone). Pretty soon four weeks had gone by.

How did I resolve this? I just called them. I left a message on their voice mail, so I sent a paper thank you card the same day.

It’s not my practice to be so behind in actions. But there is one action I dread more than any other action: Calling a partner who has missed a gift.

Here’s a quote from the TNT online help regarding “Calling Late Donors”:

Many missionaries are reluctant to contact a donor who is behind on their giving. They are afraid of appearing pushy or aggressive. Many just hope the donor will resume giving with no contact at all. The reality is that many donors who are behind on their giving may be unaware that they are behind, and a quick, friendly phone call can help them remember. And if there is a reason why they cannot give, your phone call can give them an opportunity to share that reason, rather than leaving you wondering.

When calling a donor who is behind on their pledge, make sure that your focus is on them. In the conversation, they may initiate with you regarding their giving, but if they do not, you should do so only after finding out how they are doing. Then mention how you were reviewing your giving reports and noticed that their normal gift had not arrived. Mention that perhaps there was an error recording the gift. Then let them respond. If they need assistance, for example, if they need an envelope or giving slip, then promise to get it to them right away.

Whenever you import gifts into TntConnect, it runs a check not only on all the gifts that came in, but also on partners who should have given (based on their giving trends). If a partner appears behind, you get a task suggesting you contact the donor. This same information is displayed in the Pledge Fulfillment Report.


Read More about the Pledge Fulfillment Report

Random History Tips

The History Engine is TntConnect is the most powerful task record of any software I have ever used. But it is only as helpful as the information put into it. Here are some random tips for you when logging history.

  • Log every task you do, regardless of the result. 10 dials = 10 tasks logged. One of TntConnect’s distinctives is how easy it is to log history attempts in moments. Tip: The easiest way to log a phone call is to click on the phone number; the history box will then include the number dialed right in the note.

  • When you send a support-related e-mail, blind copy (BC:) yourself, then copy and paste the whole text into the description of your task. Copy both sides if your message is a response to theirs.


  • An event is “Attempted” if the desired result is not achieved, such as:
    • The person you wanted to talk to did not answer (busy, no answer, babysitter, child, secretary)
    • You went to an appointment but they did not show up
    • You sent an e-mail but it was returned with a wrong address

  • Save commonly-used descriptions to make your history more consistent and easier to create–the description box auto-fills from your saved list. You can add/edit items in the list by selecting Edit list… from the bottom of the drop-down list.


  • When writing a description, be detailed so you can make sense of your history.
    History isn’t perfect. For example, if a contact calls you back and you fulfill the activity you were seeking, you may want to use “Done” instead of “Received” on the task. Here is an example of a description written after a phone call, in order from less descriptive to more:

    • ”            “ [blank; no description written, just the call recorded]
    • “Called” [why? who talked to? result?]
    • “Called; no answer” [why? next action?]
    • “Called; no answer / left message” [same as above; no real improvement]
    • “Called for decision / left message: Will call back Monday at 8pm” [more descriptive: Why (called for decision), Action taken (left message), Next action (I will call back Monday at 8pm)]

Note in the above examples, “Called” is not a helpful description when Call is a task type; there is no reason to repeat the action when the history item already logs it. Instead, use your characters judiciously to pack the best punch.

  • Write casual encounters as an “Unscheduled Visit” (found on the bottom in the “Other” task types).


  • Log history for all the contacts in the Current Group. For example, when you send a special ask or your monthly newsletter.


  • Be ready in and out of season. (Not really a history tip in itself, but it results in history!)
    • Have note cards handy, with stamps, to write a quick thank you.
    • Thank after EVERY appointment, EVERY decision (yes or no), EVERY first gift, EVERY tangible (non-financial) gift, etc.
    • Keep an index card to write down who you sent notes to so you can enter it in TntConnect later.

  • When talking on the phone, use a pen and paper to scribble notes, as typing may be distracting to the contact (sounds like an airline reservation system!)

The Amazing Contribution Report

TntConnect is a data-rich program. And the value of a support raising software is the way it can deliver data to you to help you…

  • Respond to donor activity (giving habits, gifts outside of their giving habits, missed gifts, milestones, etc.)
  • Plan future support development (categorize donors in priority order, determine amount to challenge, determine responsiveness to past campaigns, etc.)
  • Build relationships in general (keep in touch on a regular basis, remember milestone events in their lives, pray for them).

One of TntConnect’s most powerful financial components is the Contribution Report. This “13-Month Report” displays all gifts from all donors for the past 13 months (summarized by donor each month, not an individual gift list).


But that’s just scratching the surface of what this incredibly powerful and flexible report can do for you. In the upper left corner, for example, you can filter the displayed gifts based on the nature of the gift (include/exclude):


  • Gifts synced to the web (if your organization supports that)
  • Gifts you submitted to your organization which have not posted to the web (helpful to verify gifts you mailed in were correctly posted to your account)
  • Non-web gifts (to see those outside of the web posting)
  • Personal gifts (helpful if your organization limits the amount of personal gifts you can receive during the year)

You can also change the summary by adding/decreasing months (which I have done when I wanted to compare Decembers over a 5-10-15 year period), or switching to quarters or even years. I find it helpful to display by year, then increase the number displayed to all past years–that gives me a really helpful view long term:

(this screen shot cropped to simplify the display) Clark Kent has seen a lot of growth in since he joined ToonTown Ministries in 2007, but it looks like 2015 was a big year for some reason, or he has an alarming downward trend his director should be aware of, etc.!


Note in the above there are two boxes that may NOT appear on your Contribution Report:

  • The “All Designations” drop-down. For a database where many designations are included, and managed using TntConnect Pro, you can select any individual designation to display instead of all designations in the database.
  • The Currency drop-down box (displayed above as CAD Canadian dollar). The selected currency will show all gifts but only in the selected currency. Or you can check the box below (“Only show (CAD)“) to filter only for those donors who gave the selected currency. These boxes will only appear for those users who actually have more than one currency in their database.

A few extra things you should know about this profoundly helpful report:

  1. When you change any of the many filters at the top, you need to press the Update button to refresh the report (it does not update automatically).
  2. You can filter the displayed contacts to display only the Current Group (the Current Group that is selected in the Contacts View). This can be very helpful when you want to view the donations from a subset of your contacts.
  3. The Extra Fields button allows you to select any additional field(s) from the database to display in the report and then export. The report will remember your Extra Fields choices even after you exit the report and exit TntConnect.
  4. You can Sort by Last Gift Date (default and most common/most intuitive) or by Partner Last Name.
  5. You can Lookup the contacts who are displayed. Since your report only shows donors who meet your various selected criteria, there may be times when you want to then view only those contacts in the Contacts View.

Read the help topic about the Contribution Report
See the original help video
See the SmartStory short video

Manually Entering Gifts is a Breeze

Well over half of all TntConnect users serve with an organization that does not have a way to send gifts to TntConnect via the web or via a file. It may surprise you to learn that TntConnect was invented before the Gift Input feature was created. That is, all users had to enter gifts manually in the very beginning!

Because of this, TntConnect makes it super easy to enter gifts manually.

One option, of course, is simply to right-click in the Gifts box and “Add a Gift”—which you would do any time you add a single gift from a donor. But that is time consuming if you are entering dozens of them every month.

If you cannot download gifts at all, then your best bet is to use the Manual Gift Entry Form from the Tools menu.

Here is a blank Manual Gift Entry Form:


If you are entering gifts multiple times per month (weekly, for example, as you view them on a web page), you will see that TNT displays all of the gifts so far this month:


This quick-entry form allows you to enter all of your gifts in just a few moments.

  • It displays every partner who has given a gift in the past 12 months.
  • You just enter the date and the amount.
  • You can lookup and add a New Partner to the form from your entire list of contacts (if the donor does not appear on the list).
  • You can press Another Gift if a partner has more than one gift in a month.
  • If you are working from a printed list or printed email (a little easier than toggling back and forth between TNT and your email or ministry web site), you can probably enter 25-50 donations in just a few minutes.
  • Also, if you receive gifts in more than one currency, you can enter all gifts from one currency at the same time. (If you do not have multi-currency turned on, the Currency box will not be shown.)
  • If you will not be linking to the web for gifts, be sure to uncheck the box New gifts on web so TNT will not be expecting you to download them (and match them) in the future.

The great news: No matter which of the 5 ways you enter gifts, TntConnect runs the same Automatic Actions for New Gifts features so you can take full advantage of TntConnect’s powerful analytics.

Read more about the Manual Gift Entry Form.