Power of the Written Word

I blog. I develop electronically-delivered training. I created a social media network with a team of missionaries–more than 25 years ago.  So naturally, my preferred newsletter style is: PAPER.

Bait and switch: This blog post is actually about email newsletters.

This came to me after receiving one or two dozen “Privacy Policy Updates” from companies recently. I decided to write a humorous email newsletter to my partners to let them know that *I* had updated *my* privacy policies. I wonder how many of them read it?!

What struck me as I wrote this email newsletter, however, was that four of my email newsletter recipients do not receive my paper newsletter. This is a bad sign for me, because I am not very consistent at sending email newsletters. I used to be, but got out of the habit during a really crazy period about 4 years ago, and my email newsletters since then have been sporadic.

Ideally, I would be systematic about the email newsletter, sending it every month at the same time as the paper newsletter. But in practice I find that is not true.

Of the 90 people who get my email update, only 15 are financial partners, and only 4 of those 15 do not get the newsletter on paper. So for me, the email newsletter is a low value communication device.

By the way, I am not even hinting that what I do is a best practice! I know many missionaries who only send email newsletters. But for me, paper is best.

The point of this post is “information”–how TntConnect helps me stay on top of my complex partnership team. In a quick export I was able to get a snapshot of all of my email newsletter recipients.

Here’s what I did:

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  1. Press the Newsletter Tools Helper button and select the Email tab
  2. Select Group Actions | Export Current Group
  3. Select these fields to export:
    1. File As
    2. Newsletter Media Preference
    3. Twelve Month Total (to see which people are financial partners)

The export box shows the newsletter preference in words…

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…but when it goes to Excel it appears in code:

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In an upcoming blog post I will be sharing more about the newsletter preferences and how they work, but an email newsletter list contains only three preferences:

  • +P+E | “Paper and Email”
  • +E-P | “Email (preferred) with Paper Backup”
  • +E | “Email only”

As a ministry axiom, my partnership efforts are focused on those who financially support my work, so when I exported my list, the first thing I did was sort by Column C (Twelve Month Total) so I could see how I am communicating with my financial partners.

Unlike the example list above, on my personal list as I said I only have 4 partners who are not receiving paper. I decided to re-add them to my paper newsletter list to ensure consistent communications… at least until I get my email newsletter more systematic.


Communicating with our partners is so significant that the last major overhaul of the TntConnect online help changed the entire structure to be focused on “what you do as a TNT user”. There is an entire section just to Communicating: Newsletters and Mail Merge. (Previously the help manual had been indexed feature-by-feature.)

You can read more about Managing Newsletters here.

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That old breakfast appointment

I was trying to find a specific comment from a note I wrote years ago. I knew the name of the partner, but I could not remember the exact appointment. Was it in 2005 or 2010?

That is to say, I KNOW I talked to Wile Coyote about “Acme Anvils”, but I just cannot remember when.

Fortunately, TntConnect makes it very easy to search through history–not just all history but even for one specific contact.

  1. In the Contact list, I selected the specific contact in question
  2. Select Lookup | This Contact to filter the list to just that one contact
  3. Go to the History View
  4. Check the box at the bottom Filter by Current Group
  5. Change the date range to All
  6. Type in the word I am looking for in the text filter

1. Select Wile Coyote

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2. Select Lookup | This Contact

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3 & 4. Go to the History View and check the box Filter by Current Group. Notice a blue bar appears that says, “Only items related to contacts in the current group are shown.” In this example, Wile Coyote has no History in the “Last Week”, so the list is blank.

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5. Change the Date Range to All

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6. Type the desired text in the Text filter. This searches any text in either the Description of the history OR in the actual notes of the logged history. In this case, the words “Acme” are in the notes.

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Here is the actual history entry:

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The fun thing about this blog post is that I actually did this just this morning before writing this post, which is what gave me the idea for this post. I had to re-create the details for this sample, but I truly did search through my entire database for one specific history event many years ago.

Being able to filter on one contact in the Contacts View (Lookup | This Contact) allows me to do two helpful things:

  1. Perform a mail merge on one specific contact only (such as to prepare a giving submission form for my organization, or for printing a Getting to Know You sheet)
  2. Use all of the six History filters. I cannot filter (much) on the History Tab for the contact, but when I view the contact’s history in the History View, I can filter by all six filters (date, type, current group, data changes, text-in-notes, etc.).

Congraduations!

It’s that time of year… graduations abound!

Graduations are a great time to connect with our ministry partners because for those who have teens graduating, it is usually a festive time. There are four common areas with our partners’ children where we try to exert ourselves:

  • Birth of the child (for younger partners)
  • High School Graduations
  • Mission Trip appeals
  • Marriage

As we and our partners walk through life, these tend to come in waves. We don’t see as many births nowadays as we do graduations, for example.

There are other events too, of course, such as college graduation or when a partner’s child has their own child. But I view those as stemming out the relationship I am building with that child. By the time they are graduating from college or having their own children, I need to have a personal relationship with them to consider giving a gift or card.

TntConnect offers a broad range of Dealing With Gifts, including gifts we give to our partners. I use the Present task type to record sending these gifts. If it is for a mission trip, I just write the amount of the gift. If it is for a graduation or marriage we often send a gift card.

The Present task type:

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Recording a graduation gift:

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Recording a gift for a child’s mission trip:

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When we do a graduation gift card, it is usually a token gift of $10 or $15 to a restaurant near them, such as Dairy Queen or Chick-fil-A, or occasionally a retailer like Walmart. And as a general rule, I try to send it as soon as possible after receiving the graduation announcement… to do this I plan ahead with a supply of Congratulations cards and the gift cards I want to use.

Here’s one other thought: When you receive a graduation announcement, you may want to send a separate happy note to the parents too… they got them there! I just thought of that this year. 🙂