“His” and “Her” Partners

Only an accountant would love this, I’m sure.

My wife I both served with our organization prior to getting married, and we were both fully supported at the time of our marriage.

One of the fields on the “Family” tab in TNT is the “Family Side” field. This is used in conjunction with the “Family Level” field to denote the relationship:

  • His / Sibling
  • Hers / Aunt
  • His / Cousin
  • Hers / Nephew/Niece (below)

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We have many relatives in our database, but most of them are not financial partners, and there is no value for me to track giving by that relationship.

Instead, I use the “Family Side” field to indicate who has the closer relationship with the partner (practically, whose database were they in before we were married?). Since our marriage, I have continued to use the Family Side to represent new partners; for example, if the referral came from one of my before-marriage partners… sort of a referral chain. I use “None” for new partners who joined our team because of us as a couple—and I am surprised at how few of those there are.

Even today—approaching our 20th wedding anniversary—almost every one of our new partners is the result of relationships built from our early days in ministry and their successive referrals.

Why is this useful for me? Again, only an accountant would love this… but I use it to help me analyze where the growth of our financial partners comes from–and where to invest my future energy.

If you look at the chart below, you can see that over the past 15 years or so, almost all of the growth in new giving has come from partners associated with my former partners. It is not that I have not tried to cultivate new support and new referrals from my wife’s home support base. I have tried! And God has raised up new partners to replace those who have stopped giving. But the practical reality is that when it comes to my time, I see far more success in broadening the support from my side.

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So why do I share this? Do I think YOU should start using His & Hers this way? Probably not (unless you are weird like me!). But the greater value is in seeing creative new ways to use TntConnect to help you. TNT was not designed to track support this way; I just figured out how to do something I wanted it to do, and have found it really helpful.

Oooops… wrong place!

There are two places in TntConnect where I find information ending up in the wrong place.

  1. Right address… wrong place. Because I download gifts from my organization, the address for a business, or even a special mailing address, ends up as the “Home” address for a partner.
  2. Right history… wrong person. I have, on occasion, logged History for the wrong contact.

In both cases I can easily move to the correct spot just by right-clicking. Just this week I was working on my office database (for ministry fund development), and discovered we had two contacts that were the same–and both had gifts and tasks/history associated with them. In moments I was able to merge the donor accounts and migrate all tasks/history to the correct contact.

For the address, on the Address tab I can right-click on the address and select “Move to” to switch it to one of the other address options for the same contact. (You cannot move an address to a different contact.)

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On the History and Task tabs, I can “send” an item to another contact, again just by right-clicking on the desired item.

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The other TntConnect tip here, in case you did not catch it, is that TNT has a number of secret “right-click” features. Every once in a while, just right-click somewhere… you might learn something new!

Summer Time is Support Time

Ludvig (not his real name) was on a full-time support trip with his wife, Ethel, and their one-year-old child. They had been given 8 weeks to focus on support raising. Their goal was $1000 in new monthly support, which was just a portion of the $2300 they needed to raise to be at “full support” for their now larger family.

They were acquaintances of mine, though we did not work closely together (i.e., we were not on the same team). Three weeks into their trip, I was in Central America on a ministry trip and felt a sudden prompting of the Holy Spirit just to email him and ask him how it was going.

He told me that in the first three weeks they had raised $50.

My heart sank. I asked him, “Who is your support coach?”

“We don’t have one.”

“Would you like one?”

“Yes.”

“I will coach you, but you have to do exactly as I ask.” (I do not normally do support coaching.)

“Agreed.”

Over the next couple of days I spent 2-3 hours on the phone with him, talking about their travel plans for the upcoming weeks, as well as how many people they intended to visit, etc.

The first thing I discovered was that they were not challenging any of their partners to increase. They were very fortunate that almost all of their partners were clustered in a three-state area. They planned to visit more than 50-75 current donors, but were not challenging any of them! “We have not seen them for several years. It feels awkward to ask for increases. So I just want to connect. Maybe get some new names.”

We talked through that, after which I asked him one question: “Is the purpose of this trip to raise new support, or to ‘connect’ with existing partners?”

After a pause: “Raise new support.” I then told him he needed to prioritize:

  • IF his purpose was new support, THEN he needed to do ONLY those activities that were consistent with that goal.
  • I reminded him he was already continually “connecting” with them through their newsletter, thank yous, etc.
  • I told him he needed to challenge both financially and for referrals in every appointment.
  • I also told him, humorously but frankly, that having a 1-year-old in tow was the very best resource he had: “If there was ever a compelling reason to ask for additional support, that is it!”

He owned his goal and the steps; he did not do it because I asked him to, but because I was helping him reach his goal. Not every partner increased and not every partner gave names. But most did.

After the remaining 5 weeks, he told me they had raised over $1000 new monthly, and had extended their trip another 3-5 weeks because they had so many new names to follow-up on and they were experiencing continued success. In the end, they saw God provide more than $1300 in new monthly commitments, and maintaining the same focus part-time over the following year saw the remaining $1000 come in.

To manage this and work with him, I also required him to use TntConnect to log everything: every phone call, text message, appointment, etc…. then send me the weekly “Coaches Report” found on the Analysis View.

Action Point: I share this story not to burden you, but to encourage you to try some things with your support raising:

  1. Just Ask. If you have not challenged your supporters to increase their giving lately, just ask. Make it a goal to challenge 90% of your partners to increase. But please, please, do NOT do it through a form letter. Face-to-face appointment, by handwritten letter, or by phone.
  2. Focus. If you need to raise support, don’t do any other support raising activity. Every activity you do should be focused on that one thing. Defer other important things (such as making a brochure, reshuffling names in a spreadsheet, making cookies) to later.
  3. Use TntConnect to help you build and manage an increase strategy. Use the new Campaign Builder I referenced two weeks ago to help you quickly identify your four tiers of contacts, so you can develop a fund-raising strategy specific for each tier. Or use the new Exclusive Saved Groups to move your existing contacts through a structured increase strategy of namestorming, ask for appointments, challenge, call for response, etc.

A Milestone: 100 Blog Posts

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I’ve heard that most bloggers give up after a few months, and many trickle off into one blog post every month or two… which is effectively giving up.

With that knowledge, I’m pleased to present my 100th blog post. I feel like I have just scratched the surface of what TntConnect can do to help you thrive in your support raising efforts!

(In other words, there are hundreds more coming…)

With that in mind, what profound thing could I write about that would truly commemorate 100 blog posts?

Let me try this:

Trial and error is the best way to learn to use TntConnect.

That’s how I learned it. I wrote my first book on TNT way back in late 2002.

Why? Because *I* wanted to know TNT better. I remember chatting with a friend who had TNT open at the time, and he did something that surprised me (sadly, I do not remember what it was). I asked, “How did you do that???!!!!”

It was at that point I decided I was going to press every button and explore every menu item. And I decided to compile everything I found into a little book to help others learn about it too… without having to click every button like I did.

TntConnect is not much different from any other really powerful software in that way. Some people think I am an expert in Excel. I say, “Yes, I guess I am. That means I know 2% of it compared to your 1%!”

Almost everyone who uses a computer uses Excel, even if it is only to make grocery lists or calculate a little budget. But while most people do not feel guilty for not using Excel more, I often hear people sigh when they say wistfully, “I know I should use TNT more…”

I say: “Phooey.” I think everyone should use TNT as much or as little as it helps them.

I believe any guilt feelings associated with using/not using TNT are actually feelings associated with raising support itself. We feel like we should be doing more (more phone calls, more appointments, more asks, more anything). And we think (erroneously) that if we used TNT more, then we would do more of those things, and, ergo, raise more support.

I say: “Phooey.”

So go ahead—Kick the tires! Explore! If you ever say, “I wish TNT could do [this]…”, say to yourself instead, “I’m sure TNT can do [this]… I just need to figure out how!”

And if you have a question you want me to address in this blog, please email me at http://www.tnt.tips@gmail.com.

 

Promises, Promises…

The Bible takes promises pretty seriously. By my count, the word Promise appears at least 160 times. But when God makes a promise, it is a certainty it will be fulfilled.

With people, though, we understand that “promises” have varying degrees of intent. For example, when my kids were little, I avoided the word “promise” because of the potential disaster: “But Dad! You promised…!

Now I have teenagers, and I look at their commitments as “potential intentions”. Not that they intentionally forget/forego promises, but they haven’t quite got to the point where a commitment is a rock-solid “You can count on me!” statement.

And so it is with ministry partners. TntConnect has to wrestle with so many different nuances of commitments.

In TNT, there is the “pledge” which in TNTese means, “an ongoing, recurring commitment, such as a monthly gift”. But it does not mean “legally-binding” (which a person does when they pledge $100 million to a hospital, for example).

And until now, TNT had no way to track a commitment for a one-time gift. Until now.

With the expansion of the Campaign features to include new “Promise Tracking”, it was essential to come up with a term different from “pledge” or “commitment” which were already in use. So by new definition, A “Promise” is a commitment to give a certain amount by some due date. This could be a monthly increase, but in most cases will be a one-time or special gift. (Or, in some cases, it is a one-time commitment fulfilled over time, such as a $3000 commitment given in three $1000 installments.)

The most common scenario for this is a new missionary raising both their initial support as well as significant one-time support for their initial expenses (training, relocation, etc.). A campaign can track the response to both of those.

But regarding a large, ongoing campaign, this week I had a perfect test case for this profound new feature in 3.2.

Last Fall—just before the release of TNT 3.2—my office held a special event where a group of potential partners heard about several opportunities. They filled out commitment cards at the event. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way I could track both the commitments and the progress towards fulfilling them? 🙂

Here’s how I handled this in TNT:

Before you start: The Promise tool is an advanced setting. Go to Tools | Options and check the box “Display extended information (TntConnect Pro)”.

1. In the Campaign Tracking / Manage Campaigns area I created a separate campaign for each project that received a commitment. (Tools | Campaign Tracking, then New Campaign button. This is only in TNT 3.2).

2. For each partner who made a commitment—that is, a Promise—I right-clicked in the Gifts list and selected Add new promise.

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3. I then entered the details of their promise… amount, Date the promise was Made, Date the Promise is due (e.g., when the donor intends to fulfill by), and any memo they may have written on the commitment card. The “Fulfilled” box fills automatically as the donor gives.

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4. If they have any gifts I can already link to the Promise, I just need to press Apply, and then I can assign the gifts right then. The promise will appear Yellow in the Gifts list until it is 100% fulfilled.

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5. Otherwise, when the gift does come in, I can assign them at a later date. As the promise is partially fulfilled, the amount outstanding will update.

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When the promise is 100% fulfilled, the promise row will no longer be Yellow, and the text will be gray.

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Okay, so all of this Promise and Campaign Tracking can be a bit overwhelming. I’m not really trying to teach you all about it… just whet your appetite so that someday you’ll think, “Hey, I need that feature!”


Note: Campaigns are SO powerful and SO significant that in the upcoming TntConnect 3.3 release they will receive their own Menu link and their own Contacts View tabs so you can manage the Campaign activity for any individual contact:

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Correspondence Log & Contractors

  • Is your [non-donor] plumber or attorney in TntConnect?
  • Did you log your last phone call with your cell phone provider or your last appliance repair in TntConnect?
  • Did it ever occur to you to even do that?

Here’s an entry I pulled from 2007 in my TNT, when I wrote a sympathy card to someone in my church. Here’s the note I logged in my history:

Recently, Chris’s company was bought out; the new company fired the entire leadership team, including Chris. While reeling from this, his father died. While he was at the funeral, lightning struck the exhaust fan in his bathroom, catching it on fire, which fell in the garbage can, starting it on fire, which burned through the toilet supply hose, which flooded the house, causing $35k in damages.

Chris is not a donor or even a prospect to my personal ministry, but I wrote him a card. And I logged it in TNT. Recently I have been trying to write more personal thank yous (on real paper) to non-donors—a vendor I met with recently, a co-worker who went the extra mile for me, a leader in my Scout troop who just turned 50.

I have a contact in TNT simply named, “Correspondence Log“, and in that contact’s history I log a wide variety of things:

  • Letters, thank yous, and notes to non-partners
  • Canceling subscriptions or other annoying solicitations
  • Any interaction with a vendor that I might want to recall later (often these start out with a single call, but then if not resolved take multiple calls, remembering who I talked to, what their commitment/next action was, etc.)

I have a second contact in TNT named, “Contractors”. In the Notes tab I have a list of contractors I have worked with, and then in the History I log any kind of service call, appliance repair, etc.

Finally, for those individuals or professionals I visit on a regular basis, I have added them as new contacts with the TNT Phase of “Never Ask”:

  • Doctor
  • Dentists
  • Attorney

These contacts are individually added to my database because I want their full name, address, and phone numbers, just like I do with my other contacts.

These special contacts (“Correspondence Log” and “Contractors”) are setup as organizations:

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And I log relevant conversations:

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New Pledge Change in History

I’ve written before that I love tracking stuff. When I first started using TntMPD back in 2002, one of the first things I said was, “Wow, I wish I had TntMPD when I first started raising personal support 10 years ago!” I lamented the hundreds of lost contacts and thousands of unrecorded history items. 😦

Speaking of that, I always thought it would be handy if TNT would record every time a partner changed their pledge. The only way for me to determine that was to scroll through each partner’s gift list individually and just guess the dates.

Since TNT could not do that automatically, I started using the History Log to record a “To Do” each time a partner changed their pledge. I wrote a simple little code (“PC:” for “Pledge Change”) followed by the change they made. Then I could look at a contact’s history and see all of their pledge changes from their first commitment.

Fast forward 15 years, and now that feature exists in TntConnect 3.2!

Now, when you change a pledge amount for a partner, you will see this new Data Change in the history log. There is also a coloured icon that tells you whether the pledge changed up or down:

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Using the History View you can later filter these data changes, to view just the pledge changes or even view just the pledge changes for a specific contact. (But there is not room to explain that here.)

Note: Unfortunately, TNT does not have a way to build your pledge history by going back and retroactively guessing the date of pledge changes from when your gifts first started in TNT, whether that was 2015 or 1990. But if you’re really motivated, you could manually enter them (wink)!