A GREAT database management system

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In a recent MPD Connections to Cru staff, the writer focused on the having the right tools for the job, and he started with a story about pressure washing his deck. Using a high-powered pressure washer is not only quite satisfying—seeing the grime just wash away—but it is also extremely productive: Scrubbing a deck or driveway with a brush would take forever. (The picture above is from when I pressure washed my driveway at Christmas 2014—pressure washing CAN be fun!)

He also highlighted the importance of having a good software for managing our support raising efforts. I concur with this sentiment! To me, TntConnect is like a pressure washer for our support: It is a power tool that is so helpful, it couldn’t possibly be replaced by any other method. It is a great database management system.

Recently I was in Utah and Idaho on a focused time of support raising. I was so thankful for a tool that works with such power and speed as TntConnect. I was doing some analysis, too, and there is no other support raising tool that does what TNT does automatically. For example, the Gift & History Details are something I use regularly when interacting with my partners, because it gives me a snapshot of their current—and lifetime—history with me. And all 26 of these detail fields are exportable for any or all contacts!

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Finally, the partners I was staying with in Idaho had no internet access at their house. They are “snowbirds” who winter in Arizona; so they just use their phones for Internet access. I was there for three days and I was so grateful that I had a tool that works whether I have internet access or not.

TNT is lightning fast, and the history tools are like a jet engine for support raising.

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MPD Connections: “Turning Back”

From the April 8, 2016, MPD Connections by Todd Mathews with Cru:

Turning back is usually considered a negative thing—a sign of retreat or giving up. But in one familiar story, it’s quite the opposite.

In Luke 17:11-19 we read about Jesus healing ten lepers. In verse 12 Jesus is met by the whole group. They “lifted up their voices saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’” Clearly, they had a need and did not hesitate to ask Jesus to get involved.

In verse 14 Jesus responds. He says, “‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed.” What a gracious gift from Jesus!

What happens next? “ONE [emphasis added] of them saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks.”

We can only speculate that the other nine also felt thankful. Didn’t they notice that they, too, were healed? Of course! If nothing else, they must have felt relieved. The burden of illness was lifted. They could move forward in freedom to do all sorts of things that illness had prevented. Maybe that’s why they didn’t turn back. Turning back takes time and effort—time that could be used for other things. After all, Jesus said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” Surely Jesus knew they were thankful, right?

Jesus noticed the man who turned back to offer praise and thanksgiving to him. Jesus also noticed that the other nine did not turn back.

In MPD I must turn back to say thank you. But I have a lot of other important demands on my time. The very things that our partners give generously toward are the things that fill my schedule. It would seem that they would know I appreciate their gift, right?

No. Like Jesus, our partners want the tangible expression of our gratitude. They deserve our intentional effort to turn back and say, “Thank you.” And we need hearts that are shaped by gratitude. In the story of the lepers, the one who turned back experienced a relational connection with Christ. When we give thanks, it speaks value to the giver AND it’s good for our hearts, too.

Are you behind or negligent in saying thanks to your partners? Now is the right time to turn back and honor them. It pleases God, blesses your friends and it’s good for you, too!

How TntConnect helps you “turn back and say thanks”

TntConnect uses Automatic Actions in response to new gifts, to alert you to any urgent tasks related specifically to partner gifts. Each time a partner gives a gift, TntConnect asks a series of questions related to that gift. If it gets a “Yes” answer (that is, a task has been created), it stops, even if the gift might generate more than one task. Here are some of the things TNT is looking for:

  • First Gift (and therefore, fulfillment of an initial commitment)
  • EXTRA gift (more than commitment)
  • SMALLER gift (less than commitment)
  • Missed gift (partner is more than 30 days behind in their commitment), and 
  • RECONTINUING (partner missed gift and then gave again)
  • LARGE TIME FRAME (partner is fulfilling their commitment, but it is 6-12 months between their regular gifts)

One thing TNT also does is simply check your thank you history and alert you if a partner has not had a thank you in a certain number of months (11 is the default, but you can pick any number of months). This is really helpful, because many partners give faithfully, never out of the ordinary. So none of their “normal” activity would create a thank you task. But they still deserve a thank you.

Read more about Automatic Actions for New Gifts

A short video on the Automatic Actions

MPD Connections: Perseverance

(Note: “MPD” is “Ministry Partner Development”, Cru’s internal name for the support raising process. The “MPD Connections” is a weekly [school-year only] email that Cru sends to any staff member who want a weekly encouraging tip on support raising.)

In an MPD Connections article in Spring, 2016, Dave Dickens shared:

If there is one thing that marks someone who is successful at MPD it is perseverance. Let’s face it, MPD is tough and not for the faint of heart. We deal with lots of rejection, we are ignored (even by friends!) and we are misunderstood.

The Scriptures have much to say about perseverance. In Colossians 1:11-12 Paul encourages the church with these words:  “…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”

I asked a few friends to share some practical things which help them to persevere and be tenacious in MPD, especially with making phone calls. Here is how they responded:

  • If my plan is to make phone calls in the evening or the next day, I text some friends a few hours before “go time” asking them to pray. That almost always ensures that I follow through and get on the phone.
  • I keep in mind that MPD is part of the Lord’s calling on my life.
  • My wife helps me to persevere. When I go to make calls she gives me a high five and says, “Go get ‘em tiger!” I love that!
  • I keep in mind Bill Hybels’ definition of perseverance: “crashing through quitting points.” That imagery is powerful for me.
  • I pump up the volume. Seriously! Before I get on the phone I play loud worship songs to remind myself that He is worthy of my life and work and that I want more people to be around His throne.
  • I start with the hardest, most intimidating calls. I jump in the deep end! Once those are done, I’m golden.

Why do I (Bob) write about this?

Because http://www.TNT.tips integrates seamlessly with MPD Connections. Many of the weekly tips from Dave and his team are made possible (or “made easier”) by using TntConnect. When it comes to perseverance, for example, my #1 TntConnect tip is to have TntConnect open every day, and use it as the source for my daily support development activity.

Looking at Dave’s friends’ suggestions from above, here are two of those tips, with ideas on how to do them in TntConnect:

If my plan is to make phone calls in the evening or the next day, I text some friends a few hours before “go time” asking them to pray. That almost always ensures that I follow through and get on the phone.

TntConnect Tip: Use TntConnect to create a “prayer warrior list” of that small handful of people you text or email when it’s “go time”. You can either log that activity, or just use the list as the reminder to email/text each person.

I start with the hardest, most intimidating calls. I jump in the deep end! Once those are done, I’m golden.

TntConnect Tip: The most important thing here is actually just having the list “ready to go”. It’s a lot easier to persevere through a list of calls when that list is very visible—a solid start and end person. While you cannot ‘prioritize’ the list in TntConnect, you can see the list, which makes it easier than just guessing each time you dial the phone, “Who should I call now?” This helps me personally remove angst—I just dial each one in succession.

Sometimes I also sort the list of contacts to call in the order of “Last Call” field. That way, the ones at the bottom of the list are the ones I’ve called most recently; if I have to call 10 times per person to reach them, it’s best if I am not calling the top half of the list 2x as often as the bottom half.

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I was a reluctant TNT user.

I was a technology “early adopter”. I was managing my support activities on my mobile device… in the 1990’s! (Surprise, the iPhone was NOT the first mobile device.) I had all of my contacts in my Palm Pilot, and was tracking their giving activity in a very robust Excel file; I even had a mini-Excel on my Palm Pilot. I was happy as a lark.

Then in 2002, two co-workers on my team, Jennifer and Julia, began telling me about a “new” support development software called “TntMPD”. For months they tried to get me to try it, saying “Bob, you’ll love TntMPD! It’s got your name written all over it!”

I steadfastly resisted… because my method was exceptionally efficient and effective. Besides, I had heard about other “support raising software” and very few good reports about them.

At their insistence, in June 2002 I downloaded TntMPD. I was absolutely stunned. I simply could not believe how helpful it was! As I have said since, “I was reluctant to try TntMPD. Then I downloaded it, and the next day I never looked back.”

I had to learn it by trial and error—because there was no documentation on it back then. One day that Fall I happened to see my friend David N. do something pretty slick—and I had to ask him how he did it. Frustrated by the lack of documentation (developers write software, not documentation, after all!), I pressed every button and clicked every click in TNT until I knew it backwards and forwards. I enlisted several friends who used it before me and put together the first user guide, “Exploding TntMPD”.

Since that time, this printed manual morphed into the encyclopedic online help tool now available just by clicking F1 in TntConnect. I have traveled to dozens of countries and trained thousands of staff members in using TntMPD, now TntConnect. And I’m just a volunteer in the broader TNT community, joined by other volunteers from some of the 500 ministries whose staff use TntConnect.

I recognize that TntConnect isn’t the right tool for everyone. But I also recognize that there are many people today who were like me that first Fall: Wanting to know more but having no one to show them how. I hope this blog can give you some good and helpful tips.

And if you want to learn a lot more about using TntConnect, then I encourage you to check out our SmartPath™, where there are more than 50 videos, every one of them under 3 minutes. The SmartPath app is free on iPhone or Android and you can even subscribe to have a video delivered to you weekly or even daily. Or you can view our SmartPath on smartpath.smartstory.com. In both cases, enter our SmartCode™: GoTntTips.

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