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.).
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Ask No Ask

  • “There’s an exception to every rule.”
  • “In a multiple choice test, ‘always’ or ‘never’ are absolutes and are rarely the correct answer.”
  • “We should always challenge everyone on our partnership team when doing a Special Ask Appeal.”

In my early years in ministry I used to spend a lot more time fretting about who to ask (for special gifts), what to ask for, how to word the ask, and when to ask. After reading excellent support raising books like Funding Your Ministry (Scott Morton) and The God Ask (Steve Shadrach), and The 7 Deadly Diseases of Ministry Marketing (Brendel), my view on asking for support broadened.

And an ancillary benefit of that expansion is that creating fund appeals is a lot faster than it used to be… because I am not wasting as much time culling my list for just the correct set of people to ask in any given letter, or spending literally days crafting the letter as if that was the magic bullet.

As a general rule, I do this with special gift appeals: “Ask everyone except those I do not ask.”

I have a special Saved Group titled, “Ask Exclude”. In this Group I have a small number of contacts (under 10 currently) whom I never send an ask to. This list includes three types of contacts:

  • Organizational/church contacts for whom a special ask may seem inappropriate. That is, these recipients want ministry updates, but I want to reserve special gift appeals to individuals within the organization or church, not the entity itself.
  • Relatives who may not be believers, or might have a narrow view of fund-raising. Or, to put it another way, these are people who may have reservations about fund-raising, or may have a negative view of churches or mission agencies who do fund appeals. If I send appeals to them, it may reinforce their negative views.
  • Contacts who have specifically indicated to me that they do not want to receive appeals.
  • Contacts who I am concerned that due to their age they may not interpret the ask correctly.

As I said, in my current list of Ask Exclude I have fewer than 10.

[ I also will typically exclude people who recently gave a special gift for some other reason or had a very recent change in their giving up or down. But that’s not the focus of this post. ]

When I am creating a new Campaign and want to generate the letter, I do the lookup for paper newsletter, then Lookup | By Group, and use “Take away from the current group” to remove the Ask Exclude group.

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I am a firm believer in presenting our special needs to our partners (as you are aware from our recent vehicle ask). I send at least one special ask appeal every year, sometimes two.

I am not saying that every appeal I send is always “to my entire less minus the Ask Exclude”. Sometimes I do send a special appeal to a select group of partners. But I generally start with everyone, remove the Ask Exclude, then tweak the list from there.

Act your Age

Last week one of my partners alerted me he had just sent his last gift as he was retiring. Their first gift was 24 years ago when I first reported to my assignment. What a legacy! [They actually alerted me a year ago this day was coming, for which I was grateful too.]

I love that TNT enables me to see all of those gifts, their lifetime total, number of gifts, etc. What TNT does not do, however, is tell me the giving of all my partners by their age (or, rather, their age relative to my own age).

Many years ago I began testing a theory that “the average age of my financial partners is about 15 years older than I am”. This makes sense to me, because when I first went into mission work at age 24, most of my contemporaries did not have sufficient incomes to support me, and those just older were just getting started with homes and families. So it was the 40-50 age group that made up the bulk of my initial team. And since many of those are still giving, even as I have aged to 50 this year, my team has aged with me.

Over time the partners “around my age” (within 5 years of my age) have increased in number and in terms of proportional giving, such that they are currently my largest group (but not a majority) . However, even today, after 27 years in ministry, the #2 and #3 groups are the 20-30 and 15-20 years older than me groups. Combined, this age group provides 40% of our support. (This is a concerning issue for my next 15 years in ministry, but that is not the focus of this blog post!)

How do I track this in TNT since there is no feature for tracking age of my partners?

Simple: I use one of the User Fields. I renamed it Age by double-clicking on “User” name.

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Then I put in the partners “relative age to me” as they will always be that age relative to me:

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I use the first pair of numbers just to keep the list in order. Then the text is their age relative to me. Yes, I do still have 16 partners who are 30 years or more older than I am… still giving faithfully into their 80’s! Wow! Can I be one of those, Lord, who is cheerfully supporting missionaries in my 80’s?!

Then I can go to the Analysis View and select any of the charts, filtered by Age:

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This shows me all of my active partners (“Average Monthly Gifts” only tracks those who have given over the past 2-3 years).

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In one respect I find a chart like this simply “interesting”. But in another respect I find it “challenging”. It is challenging to me because I see that I really need to grow two of the furthest right columns: Those who are 5-10 years older than I am (currently in peak income years) and the “more than 5 years younger than I am” group, since I have only two partners in that category.

This is a great example of TNT really helping me be more effective at partnership development, and also a great example of me using TNT in a way it was not designed exactly to do.

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!” ~ Robert Browning