A League of His Own

2017-12-06-Nixon

I felt like a chump after reading an article in The Wall Street Journal last night, realizing that I am “in a whole other league” compared to this guy. Here are the opening paragraphs (Emphasis mine; I cannot link to the article as it requires a subscription login):

POCANTICO HILLS, N. Y.—Some might say David Rockefeller, a scion of America’s greatest fortune and the veteran chief executive of Chase Manhattan Bank, was a dedicated networker long before the age of Facebook.

That would grossly understate his horizons. Mr. Rockefeller recorded contact information along with every meeting he had with about 100,000 people world-wide on white 3-by-5-inch index cards. He amassed about 200,000 of the cards, which filled a custom-built Rolodex machine. He kept the 5-foot high electronic device at his family’s suite of offices in New York City’s Rockefeller Center for about half a century.

In the annals of CEO history, the breadth and depth of this record of contacts stand out,’’ said Nancy Koehn, a Harvard business professor and historian.  “This is a man with a large, long reach.’’

Sample card, for Richard Nixon:

2017-12-06-RockefellerCard

David Rockefeller was the grandson of John D. Rockefeller, but famous in his own right, having served as a primary shareholder and chairman of the board of Chase Manhattan, largest bank in America at the time.

The article explains Mr. Rockefeller’s meticulous record-keeping on the top-secret cards–a vault so secret it was only revealed when he died this year at age 101. His will stipulates the cards may not be fully released for at least 10 more years.

Many of the entries were typed on the cards, with some notations made by hand. Information that was out of date was crossed out.

Most of the seven cards shown in the article (Trump, Reagan, Nixon, Eisenhower, Sadat, Mandela, Gates) have multiple appointments listed. Here are some of items I noticed on some or all of the cards:

  • Name
  • Spouse’s Name
  • Greeting format (“Mr. President”, “Dick”, “Bill and Melinda”)
  • All relevant addresses and phone numbers; many of the phone numbers and postal codes are the pre-1970 formats!
  • Short notes on face-to-face appointments (date, location, context)
  • Public information not from a personal appt (e.g., election to presidency; cite newspaper article about a life change)

2017-12-06-EisenhowerCard

Here’s one comment about a visit with Nelson Mandela:

7/5/93-DR hosted dinner honoring above, Rainbow Pavillion. Gave DR beaded belt. M/M J. Wayne Fredericks helped him pick it out. DRs putting it in a glass frame.

If David Rockefeller had 100,000 people covering 200,000 cards, it is safe to say that the number of data entries must have numbered in the millions. Admittedly, he probably had a personal secretary updating these cards, a luxury I have not had!

I am staggered, yet envious, of this kind of detail. Many times since I started using TNT I have wished that I had kept the records of every support-raising contact and appointment I had. Sadly, like many missionaries I “threw away the card box” [metaphorically; mine was electronic] once I reported to my assignment. Initially I contacted more than 1,000 people on my road to full support, but the vast majority did not make it into TNT because the Excel files were discarded years before TNT came along… remember back when file storage was limited to little plastic disks that held little? “Why would I want to keep this?” I probably asked myself in 1990s.

But I do take heart that since TNT came into my life I have in a very poor emulation done the same thing, and why TNT is also “in a league of its own” in terms of software. My two TntConnect databases have in them 3321 names and (not including data changes) more than 51,000 rows in the history log. And that only represents my last 15 years—less than half of the 31 years I have been raising support for my organization. The very fact I was able to come up with those two numbers (3321 contacts + 51000 history items) in about one minute is evidence of the data-managing power of TNT.

When I joined my organization full-time I was actually trained using an Index Card system quite similar to Mr. Rockefeller’s. Maybe to my detriment, upon returning home I immediately switched to “my own homemade system” (that is, a simple spreadsheet). Yet I know several people today who still maintain their entire partner list on index cards. What a treasure!

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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 … “.

2017-11-29-9Thinking

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).

2017-11-29-1ExclusiveSavedGroups

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:

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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).

2017-11-29-2FavouriteLookup

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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:

2017-11-29-4ExclusiveSGExport

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’).

2017-11-29-6Export

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:

2017-11-29-7Shaded

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.

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:

2017-10-31-PartnerTrackingForm

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.

2017-10-31-LookupThisContact

  • 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.

Resources


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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.)

2017-10-26-F12-Enlarge

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.

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Read More about the Pledge Fulfillment Report

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).

2017-10-13-ContrReport1

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):

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  • 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.!

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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:

2016-07-06-ManualGiftEntry

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:

2017-10-01-ManualGiftEntry2.jpg

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.