It is sad to say Goodbye (Part 2)

Two weeks ago I shared the story of how one of our long-time partners went home to be with the Lord. In this blog post, I want to share some of the practical steps you take in TntConnect to record the passing of a contact.

Over 90% of our financial partners are married couples, two of whom are widows. There are two scenarios for managing deceased contacts:

  1. When the whole contact dies, typically a single person, and very rarely (never for me), when both die together such as in an accident.
  2. When one person in a couple dies, leaving a surviving spouse. This is the more common scenario for me personally at this stage of my life.

When a whole contact is deceased

When a contact dies, the simple step is to check the Deceased checkbox on the TNT Tab. As you have probably discovered, TNT “saves as you go”, but on the TNT Tab (and other tabs where you enter data), it does not save instantly as you move from field to field but rather when you switch tabs or switch contacts. So pressing the Deceased check-box will not “instantly” cause these actions to occur. But you can force them (see them happen) by pressing the Save button at the top.

Here is Elmer Fudd through the Mark Deceased process:

1. Before he is marked deceased

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2. When the checkbox is first clicked but not ‘saved’ or switched to another contact. Note that immediately (without the Save), the TNT Phase switches to “Never Ask” and the Send Newsletter box unchecks.

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3. After the Save, the Name & Address Bar looks like this, and

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4. The Address Tab changes to this:

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When only one spouse dies

This is the more common scenario when the donor is a couple. One spouse will pass away first. And in my personal experience with the 7 couples where both have passed away, in 6 the husband died before the wife but only 1 where the wife died first.

TNT is not ideal in this sense, because it does not track this type of relationship nuance. But given the relative rarity of this, it does not make sense to program a lot of complex features for how little they will be used.

Simple steps:

  1. Press the Edit Contact button. Manually remove the name of the spouse who has died.
  2. If it is the husband who has died, then move the wife’s name to the ‘primary’ side.
  3. On the phone and email boxes, delete the deceased spouse’s information and move the surviving spouse’s if necessary.
  4. On the Notes tab, type the name of the deceased spouse (to avoid a potentially embarrassing question in the future)

In pictures:

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It is sad to say Goodbye

Recently I received notification of the final gift from a very faithful ministry partner. She and her husband gave their first gift in October 1993, and gave the same amount 272 months in a row, never missing even once. He passed away about 10 years ago, and she passed away last month.

I can say with some pleasure that this particular donor actually prompted a feature in TNT that I rely on all the time: The “Send thank you for $X (last thank was 19 months ago).

Until a few years ago, TNT only alerted us when a donor did something unusual, such as above or below their regular gift, missed a gift and/or resumed giving, or gave a first gift. There was no automatic thank for the incredibly faithful partner who always gave the same amount, never missed, and never gave an extra gift.

I had been using TNT for about six years, aggressively recording all of my activity, conscientiously recording all of my thank yous. Then one day I said, “I’m going to spend some time this month writing thank yous to everyone on my team.” I decided to start with the ones who had gone the longest without a thank you (e.g., maybe 10-12 months earlier).

I exported all of my Financial Partners along with the “Last Thank” date field. To my horror, I discovered eight partners who had NO recorded thank you in 6 years! The field was blank! (I will say that some of them at least did have a call or appointment, but no actual written thank you.)

At that point, I developed a personal plan to make sure every partner received a written thank you at least once per year. This actually led to the development of the “thank everyone” feature I mentioned above, which was rolled out in 2007.

Also, since that time, TNT has expanded to allow me to record a THANK for ANY history action (see pic below). And an even more recent task type (“Present”) is also, automatically, a “Thank”, since my giving a present to a partner is an expression of thankfulness on my part.

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Expressing gratitude to our partners is probably the most important thing we can do in support development. And I am SO grateful for all of our partners. Thank you Lord!!!

Increased Pledge = First Gift

When a partner increases (or decreases) their pledge, enter the new amount, then uncheck the Pledge Received box.

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TntConnect will alert you when the FIRST gift of this new pledge has arrived.

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(Technically, TNT will create a thank for the next gift, regardless of the amount; occasionally I have had a partner commit to an increase, but their actual next gift was the previous amount given automatically/EFT, so I still got the thank you task even though the amount was the old amount.)

TNT will also re-check the Pledge Received checkbox and reset the “start date” for the pledge. This helps the partner’s Average Monthly figure be more accurate.

Happy Birthday!

One of the clever, yet subtle, things that TntConnect does is how it handles birthdays for your contacts.

In my experience—and I am obviously not unusual in this since TNT is designed this way—it is unusual to get the actual (full) birth date or anniversary date for my contacts. For most, I have only partial information. For example, I was visiting a partner who told me his wife’s 40th birthday was the previous month. So, assuming he remembered correctly (e.g., it was not two months ago), I knew she was born in April 1970. I may find out the actual date later (such as April 7).

Most often I have the month and day but not the year. In fact, I have asked new partners for this: “When is your birthday?”, and they will typically only give the month and day. Indeed, for some people it can be rude to ask the year they were born!

And sometimes I have only one item. I may know they were born in 1976, but not the month or the day.

TntConnect allows me to enter any of the three items independently, for either the primary contact or the spouse:

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I can then run the Birthday & Anniversary Report to see all contacts with birthdays and anniversaries. This report is exportable to Excel. Also, I can export any/all contact’s birthday and anniversary information using the Group Actions | Export Current Group tool.

Because TNT is not designed to store comprehensive information about children, I just put their birthdays in the Children field on the Family tab. This doesn’t show up on the Birthday & Anniversary report, but it is still helpful to me:

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And if today is your birthday… Happy Birthday!

 

“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.