“Are you all okay?”

Two weeks ago I called a ministry partner in Houston. She’s an elderly woman who lives alone, and her daughter, I know, lives in Chicago. “I’m concerned about you,” I said. “Are you okay?”

She thanked me for calling and assured me she was fine. Her street was a river, but her front steps were dry. She felt very fortunate.

That was two weeks ago. Monday this week I texted my wife and asked her, “Are you all okay?”

I’m a pretty lousy husband. While my family was sleeping in the closet as Hurricane Irma blew over our house, I was on an international trip in Africa. Except for being without power for about 48 hours, and having a lot tree debris to cleanup, they were fine. She told me our neighborhood turned out like an anthill that was just kicked over–people we almost never out of doors emerged to see who lost a tree (or didn’t). Neighbors helping neighbors clean up. Won’t last long, but it’s great to see.

I appreciate that TntConnect helps me reach out to my partners and show compassion during a weather crisis like these–events that often affect a widespread area, and because of that I cannot know how my partners have fared unless I ask them. (Tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes; sad we need a reason, but showing we care… shows we care.)

The best way to connect, of course, is just to call. Email or text is okay, I suppose. But a real phone call says a lot.

I use TNT to help me do this by using the Lookups to help me identify the contacts I could call. For example, last month I looked up all partners in Texas using Lookup | By State. Sometimes Lookup | By City works if that’s what I need.

One of my partners just moved to Texas a couple of months ago; I wasn’t sure where the town was, so I used the Google Maps button in TNT to discern that they lived outside Dallas, not Houston. But I contacted them anyway because a new address & new home were a good reason to call. And I started the call simply by asking, “Has Hurricane Harvey affected you at all?”


I don’t have ulterior motives with these calls. Every opportunity to reach out to a partner is a good one. Our partners love to hear from us, and most missionaries (like me) use the microphone portion of their smart”phone” far less than we should.

Speaking of that, How are you? If you were in an area impacted by Harvey or Irma–or wildfires in the West–I hope you have seen an outpouring of bonhomie from relatives, friends, neighbors, or even complete strangers.


He giveth and taketh away

One of the most well-known, and truly unique features, of TntConnect is the “universal filter”, the Lookup tool that allows you to add or remove any criteria from any Lookup. Most web-based tools (like shopping sites) allow you to narrow down the list, but very few allow you narrow down and add to, or “reverse” the lookup, or even combine disparate items.

TntConnect 3.2 adds some similar functionality to a little-known feature called Mass Change a Field.

TNT’s ability to change the value of a single field for all selected contacts has always been super-helpful to me. For example, I was adding the Church Name to about 20 contacts one time. I could do that for each contact individually… or I could make the Current Group those 20 contacts, then select Group Actions | Mass Change a Field and do it all at once.

Group Field Change in earlier versions of TNT: Deleted the old field value and replaced it with the new value:


Now in 3.2 the options are expanded:


You can now (still) simply “replace” the old field value with the new one (that is, “Change Field”).

But you can also Add to Comma Separated List, which will take the value you have and place it after a comma in addition to any other items that are in the field. Or, Remove from Comma Separated List, which will delete the chosen value if it exists in that field.

Many people use the User Fields to make TNT unique and personal. For example, if I was in athletic ministry and I renamed User 1 to be “Favourite Sports Team”. Some people may have one team: “Montreal Canadiens”. But others might have two “Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Blue Jays” or more.

The beauty of TntConnect’s amazingly powerful lookups/filters (as mentioned at the top) is that I can do Lookups within a field. Let’s say, for example, that I want to find all contacts for whom “Montreal” is in Favourite Sports Team (whether it is the Canadiens, the Expos, the Alouettes, etc.), I can just do a lookup for that:


To wrap up, the powerful Lookups, the versatile User Fields, and the nifty Mass Change a Field all work together to make managing a lot of information very helpful. Indeed, it is so exciting it is almost like sitting in a hockey arena watching the Stanley Cup. 😉

Don’t send it twice!


** Secret feature alert! **

Faced an interesting dilemma this evening: I needed to print and send our current newsletter. But unlike normal months, there was a group of partners I did NOT want to send the letter to, because I had just sent them a special update just a week ago.

How did I solve this dilemma? By using one of TntConnect’s “secret features”: I looked up my newsletter list, then went to my History and selected the history entry for last week’s special update, then “removed” those people from the list.

Here’s how (screen shots below):

  1. Use the Newsletter Tools Helper to find my newsletter recipients
  2. Go to the History View and right-click on the update recipients
  3. Select “Remove from Current Lookup

The Newsletter Tools Helper filters the 22 paper newsletter recipients:


I then go to the History View and right-click on last week’s special update to 30 people (only some of whom are regular newsletter recipients):


After removing the Special Update recipients, there are 10 people left who still need a newsletter this month:


Export Giving Details

In my previous post, I introduced the flexible Lookup By Giving which helped find a donor who had given a specific gift—I knew the amount and month, but not the person. The Lookup By Giving showed me all donors who gave during a certain time frame and/or gifts of a certain amount.

The Lookups in TntConnect are just “filters” that narrow down my list of contacts based on any of hundreds of criteria. But Lookups do not return “amounts”… only “names”—the contacts who meet the filter criteria.

For support raising, it can be very helpful to know the amounts that people give. This helps me answer questions like this:

  • Who are my Top 10 partners?
  • What is the total given to my personal ministry this year/last year/last 12 months/lifetime?
  • What is the largest gift each partner has given? (Helps me know what amount to challenge in the future.)
  • When was the first gift each partner gave?
  • How many gifts has each partner given?

TntConnect stores contact information in a place called the “Contact Table”, which is where all of the name and address and email and 150+ other fields are stored. These fields I can export to a spreadsheet for making mailing labels and/or doing analysis.

TNT also stores more than 25 “partner-specific” calculated fields based on their giving as well as my activity with them (last call, last thank, last appointment, etc.). I will often export these fields to give me a snapshot of my support team.

Give this a try—lookup all of your financial partners, then export their giving snapshot:

  1. Lookup | TNT Phase | is PARTNER-Financial
  2. Select Group Actions | Export Current Group
  3. Press the “Uncheck All” button to clear out any saved export fields
  4. Select just “File As” from the top of the list (to get their name)
  5. Then scroll down and select some or all of the Giving Details fields (in the red frame, see picture below). These include several fields related to their most recent gift, as well as a snapshot of their overall giving to your work.
  6. Click OK, then export the list to Excel. You can then sort it by any of the fields you chose.


It is this sort of “power analytics” that really sets TntConnect apart and makes it so useful for support raising.

Read More: Giving Details

Note: If your ministry does not link directly to TntConnect, you can quickly and easily enter gifts every week or month. Learn more here.

Lookup By Giving to find a specific gift

This morning I was looking for a specific gift; I knew when it had come in (June), but I did not know who the donor was.

I used TntConnect’s flexible “Lookup By Giving” to narrow down the contacts to only those who have given since June 1 (see red arrow below). By leaving the end date (“To”) unchecked, it means, “Any gift from June 1 onwards.”


Returns 16 contacts in my database:


The Lookup By Giving box offers a number of helpful options:

  • I can pick a date range: start date (or not) and an end date (or not)
  • Amount of gift: (minimum and/or maximum). Leaving blank returns all gifts.
  • Currency: (if I am managing gifts in more than one currency, it can be helpful to lookup gifts only for the specific currency)
  • For users managing multiple designations (TntConnect Pro), this Lookup By Giving box will also show both a Designation and a Motivation Code.

The Lookup By Giving scans the Gift table, meaning it is looking at all of the gifts in the database. When it finds a gift that matches what I’m looking for, it returns the contact for the lookup.

In the next blog post, I will share how I can filter contacts by giving summaries, such as lifetime total, lifetime number of gifts, largest gift, first gift, etc. TntConnect stores several [exportable] giving totals for each partner, and updates those numbers each time the partner gives a gift–that is powerful analytics!

Continue reading

Reverse or “Negative” Lookups (a.k.a. Filters)

Many web tools (such as shopping sites) use the word “filter” to narrow down the displayed list of items. In TntConnect, filters are called “Lookups”, because it is doing more than just filtering down a list to a smaller number. You are “looking up” contacts based on a virtually unlimited number of criteria.


Question of the Day: “How do I do a negative lookup? That is, I have a list of contacts, but I don’t want to filter the list by a certain criteria. Instead, I want to ‘take away from the list’ anyone who meets that criteria, leaving everyone else.”

The quick answer is a simple one:

  1. Select Lookup | By Field,
  2. Select “Take away from the current group”.
  3. Enter your criteria (whichever field and value you wanted to remove from the current group)
  4. Press OK.


The details:

You can lookup contacts based on more than 180 Contact fields, as well as by giving activity, history activity, membership in saved groups, or even filter based on the results of a saved etc. But TntConnect’s filters don’t just narrow down your contact list. You can also lookup within a lookup, take away from that lookup or add to it.

Lookups cannot harm your database at all, so the best way to learn them is by simple trial and error.

Here’s the TntConnect help topic that explains “successive” lookups.


Who are my top donors?

TntConnect offers a number of different ways to answer this question, so today’s tip offers an answer to a more specific question: “Who are my top donors over the past 12 months?” I chose “12 months” over “this year”, because it is still early in the year, and some of your most generous partners may have given in December.

This involves just one lookup, with a sort option. Picture first, then steps…


  1. Do a Lookup | By Field.
  2. Choose Twelve Month Total is not0” [zero].
  • To have the list sorted lowest giver at the top to highest giver at the bottom, just check the box “Sort by this field” and press OK.
  • Or, if you want the highest giver at the top (as I expect most people would), then do this before pressing OK:
  1. Still select the Lookup | By Field as above, but
  2. Do NOT check the “Sort by this field” box
  3. Instead, select the Sort tab
  4. Check the box “Custom Sort
  5. Again select “Twelve Month Total
  6. Select “Descending

Then press OK.