Exclusive Saved Groups + Export

Here’s something that probably keeps you up at night:

“What should I use, User Fields or Saved Groups?”

Come on, admit it. There’s no shame. You toss and turn over the subject. I saw you brooding at Starbucks just the other day, muttering under your breath, “Saved Groups, User Fields, Saved Groups, User Fields … “.


I could probably write dozens of posts on the great and subtle nuances of User Fields vs. Saved Groups.

Under the surface, by the way, they are actually the same thing… just a “Tag” that you assign. This tag allows you to filter and sort ad nauseum.

Other software tries to lump all user-defined activity into flat tags. TNT sends that into the stratosphere by the plethora of ways you can sort, filter, group, and export tags, which most other software cannot touch.

In this extra-long post, then, I want to describe a subtle you probably did not know about because it is not obvious. Once you see it, you’ll say, “Where have you been all my life???”

You can make any Saved Group into an Exportable Contact field.

Historically (for the last 10 years at least), one of the primary benefits of User Fields over Saved Groups has been that they could be exported. It’s great to have multiple saved groups, but the only way to export was to lookup the group, then export the contacts... and then in Excel manually notate/sort them. This was awkward, especially if you were comparing membership in multiple saved groups. But that changed this year with this new feature.

Here’s a real world example I was using just yesterday, which is what led me to write this post.

On my team, we do an annual fund-raising event where we invite some of the most generous partners of our ministry.

I can (and do) easily log attendance at these events using the powerful Log History jet engine. But because of the significance of this event (it’s huge to us) and because a number of the guests come multiple times, I needed a better way to manage it. Also, I want to know exactly how many people attend each year… without having to use the History log to count it.

So I created a set of Exclusive Saved Groups that layers the entire event (called “Briefing”), then each year, with attendance underneath. Note in the picture below that I also have separate saved groups for the people who run the event, and the program people (speakers/musicians).


In the set of 19 saved groups, the entire set [labeled “Briefing”, and in black] is not exclusive (meaning any one contact can be in multiple years). But each individual year is exclusive (in blue), so within any given year, a contact must be either in the parent group (e.g., BRFG17) or the nested groups (17-Guest, 17-Speaker, or 17-Staff) but cannot be in more than one.

Note that the “Guest” group each year is shaded. This is the group that is made into a contact field:


Then in the Contacts View I created a Favourite Lookup (using Lookup | By Group) that will return the list of all contacts who are Guests (this helps me do lookups on the financial commitments and giving as a result of each event).



Here’s where the magic happens. I could export this list of contacts, but I run into a problem: We had 290 guests total for all 5 events, but that was actually only 213 people as several have attended multiple years. If I exported the list of 213, I would have no way of knowing which year(s) they attended.

BUT, by making them into Contact fields, I can now export them:


And then I can see the results in Excel, making it VERY easy for me to compare attendees for all years (that is, ‘this contact is a Member of that saved group’).


To reiterate this important tip: Note that TNT alerts me as to which Saved Groups are also Contact fields, by shading them in the Groups list:


As usual, I have only scratched the surface of how I use this feature. But this “Make Contact Field” feature is something I have used many times this year, and it has been a great addition.


It’s that time: Year-End Campaigns

The end of November is the time when many missionaries send special gift appeals letters to their partners, giving them an opportunity to send a special gift. For some missionaries this is because they have a genuine need for additional funds. But for many missionaries, it is because their partners are seeking opportunities to give during the Christmas season.

This year, the “Appeal Tracking” feature in TntConnect was renamed as “Campaign Tracking” to reflect the expanded tools that TntConnect was offering. There is so much more to a campaign than just an appeal. I won’t go into that here, though. For this post, the principle is the same: It is year end, and for many people that is time to send a letter to their partners about a year-end giving opportunity.

TntConnect is incredibly helpful in preparing year-end special gift appeals. TntConnect can help you do these things:

  • Select the group of contacts to send the appeal letter to
  • Prepare the mail merge for the letter and the envelope
  • Record the sending of the letter to the selected group
  • Record the individual gifts given in response to the appeal, separate from the partners’ regular giving.

I personally think TntConnect’s powerful “Special Gift Appeal Tracking” feature is the #1 most “under-used” feature in TntConnect. You can read more about it in this step-by-step guide. (Note: This step-by-step guide was created in a previous version of TNT, so it still uses the words “Appeals” and “Appeal Tracking”, but you can figure that out.)

History: The Jet Engine of TntConnect


Every afternoon about dinnertime three 747s fly over my house as they make their final approach to our airport. My sons and I can feel the plane coming, even before we hear it. We never get tired of looking at them.

Boeing was designing this plane at the same time the Concorde was being developed, so it was a huge gamble (many thought a company-destroyer). The common thinking at the time was that “all passenger planes will soon be supersonic” and that this monster ‘traditional jet’ would be obsolete before it even rolled off the assembly line.

Because of this concern of obsolescence, they designed it to be particularly useful for cargo—which is why there is a cabin on top (this leaves the entire main fuselage available for cargo). Of course mass supersonic travel never happened and the 747 proved to be a phenomenal success, completely changing the way global air traffic was handled. Passenger and cargo traffic exploded far more than anyone expected. For almost four decades, the 747 held the passenger capacity record, the distance flying record, the cargo capacity record, and the speed record for all passenger jets.

Boeing ended up selling more than four times their wildest expectations, and the plane is still in production today, almost 50 years later.

For years I have asserted that “The Log History feature is the jet engine of TNT.” If we compare the above photo with the one below, the differences are obvious.


Both planes are valuable and useful, and both fulfill the same core purpose—getting someone from Point A to Point B. But if your Point B is any great distance, or you need to carry a lot of stuff, you’ll probably prefer a jet.

But which jet? The 747, a fighter jet, or a business jet?


For me, when I say that “History is the jet engine of TNT,” I have a fighter jet in mind because of its incredible speed and agility.


But I also think of the 747. Support-raising is a long-haul, and I want a tool that will do it … easily, comfortably, with excellence. My TNT history contains tons of cargo—tens of thousands of history entries—and TNT carries that cargo with the strength of a 747 but the agility of a fighter jet. So when I talk about the Jet Engine of TNT, I really mean that TNT embodies the best of all four planes…

  • It can be a Piper Cub for someone who just wants a little hopper to manage their newsletter list.
  • It can be a business jet for someone who wants fast and nimble.
  • It can be a fighter jet for someone who wants sheer power and responsiveness… to attack their support raising efforts.
  • It actually is the world’s biggest, baddest, bestest “jumbo jet” support-raising software with incredible cargo-carrying abilities, phenomenal performance, and sheer good looks.

Many TNT users do not even realize how much power is at their fingertips. They want to “Fly from Montreal to Auckland,” thinking they have a Piper Cub at their disposal when they really are piloting the 747.

In addition to being able to record thank yous, phone calls, and appointments, some of the long-haul ways I use History includes:

Now that you know what a powerful tool TntConnect is, I hope http://www.TNT.tips can be a pilot-training course to help you be the best pilot you can be.