One small step for TNT…

Here’s a new advance in the world of fund development.

When using TntConnect Pro—and managing multiple designations in one database—you will love this little enhancement: The latest release of TntConnect now displays the designation number and the description for each gift.

Gifts list prior to TntConnect 3.5 r10:

1155b-OldDesigDisplay

When a donor gives to multiple designations, it can be difficult to discern the differences, even if you have memorized the list of all gift designations.

BUT… turn on the designation display in Tools | Options | Gifts:

1155c-DesigNameOptions

And voilà! You get this (lines added for clarity):

1155a-DesignationNames

One user I know manages more than 300 designations in a single TntConnect database. And while most donors who support that ministry are only supporting one designation, when there is a donor with broad and generous interests, seeing the description is super helpful!

Blog post 1155, originally posted 2018-08-13
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Beware the Ides of Google

I love Google for many things. I remember the first time I used the Google search engine, how amazingly simple the screen was. And I remember my wife asking the now laughable question, “What’s ‘Google’?”

I love (and hate) how Google remembers things. For example, recently I was looking up my favourite donut shop, Tim Hortons, to see if there was one in a town I would be visiting… about 2,000km away. Imagine my surprise when the next week I was in that town and pulled up Google Maps intending to search for Tim Hortons. Before I typed anything, Tim Hortons was already in the search list. Scary. Fun too.

1151-TimHortons

You’ve got to love it when you’re in a small town in Saskatchewan and there is a Tim Hortons on each side of the street.

One time I was searching for a Tim Hortons and the map said, “You were here a year ago.” Yikes!

Anyway, that has nothing to do with this post.

I just want to say a couple of things about Google, and I would call this a “1% about TNT post”. Here’s the 1%:

If you use Google Drive AND use TntConnect, do NOT store your database on Google Drive or OneDrive.

TntConnect is optimized for Dropbox only. If you are sharing your database with another person (such as a spouse or team member), or if you routinely use your database on two separate computers, it is essential that you only use it on Dropbox.

Why is that? Because when you open and use TNT, Dropbox automatically locks the file to prevent someone else from opening and using it. If by chance two people do have it open and make changes, then when the second person closes it, Dropbox will recognize the file date/time don’t match and will copy the file and rename it as a “Conflicted Copy”. Then the next time you open TNT, TntConnect will recognize the conflicted copy, alert you, and walk you through a way to synchronize the two so that any information entered in one is updated in the other. Once they match perfectly, TNT will delete the conflicted copy. Also, Dropbox manages the database better: It only uploads changes instead of the entire (large) database, so the web-sync is substantially faster.

Google Drive (and OneDrive also) do not work this way. They have a much simpler procedure: Last one wins. So if you spend 5 hours painstakingly updating 100 different things in TNT (like we all do monthly, he he) and your spouse opens and closes it… just after you… your spouse’s copy “wins” (because it was saved last, it must be more accurate, right?). All of your work would be lost.

So while I often say that TNT has a lot of flexibility to do things your way, in this case I am adamant: DO NOT STORE YOUR TNT DATABASE IN GOOGLE DRIVE or ONEDRIVE!

I mention this because I wanted to bring something else up: My organization has a business account with Google that gives me unlimited storage on Google Drive. This was a real boon to me because I scanned a lot of old documents and photos and other things over a year period.

Only after I did that did I realize that all of those hundreds of files will be lost to me when I leave my organization… which will happen some day. So now I have to go through each of those files and send a copy to my personal account so that they are mine forever.

Ironically, my dad kept budget ledger books and my mom kept photo albums and a DayTimer planner. Years upon years, decades upon decades, these files were instantly accessible. Today we generate more data than ever–more fitness data, more photos, more financial data–yet that information is of no value if it is not retrievable.

And, humorously, this brings me back to why I love TNT: It allows me to keep and store and retrieve and export all of my data, any time and anywhere I want.

My Splintered World

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” ~ Romans 12:3

If the technology world would just sit still for a little while, maybe we all could catch up. I guess we can only dream. But “sober judgment” as it relates to software means knowing what we can and cannot do AND being content with where we’re at instead of constantly wishing for more.

This blog post falls into the “theory” camp without specific “tips”. Our frustrations with software (as well as relationships, consumer products, and our walks with the Lord) are often based on the conflict between expectations and reality.

The evolution of tools

In the world of consumer software, I see three broad phases from the 1990s to today.

In 1990 few homes had a home computer; by 2000 nearly every home had one. Now, every person has multiple computers (phone + computer + tablet).

In the early 1990’s, DOS was king, Windows was just going mainstream, and a Mac was a tiny box used by a tiny fringe of designers. There was a lot of growth of small software tools built by tinkerers, with limited focus, and almost exclusively for PC computers:

2018-05-08-Tools1

In every genre (personal finance, Bible software, spreadsheets, word processors, and support raising software etc.), over the decade a main player came to dominate. The natural growth trajectory was to consolidate all of the individual features of the many stand-alone products and add a lot more, and the one who did that best came to saturate the market:

2018-05-08-Tools2

Power users loved this explosion of functionality, but many tools alienated the everyday user because they were literally overwhelming.


Note: Don’t get me wrong… just because a software is extremely powerful does not mean it is only useful to power users. The best “awesome software tools” (like TNT or Excel) provide power to those who need it and simplicity to those who value it.


As we saw great tools available yet average people not taking advantage of them, the natural problem (it seemed) must be the individual software’s complexity. So over the past ten years we have seen the rise of “Apps”, first for mobile devices but more recently for tablets and regular computers as well. These tools focused on just one piece of a puzzle, but promised astounding ease to solve our problems, with the assumption that if we could [fix/master/focus on/track] “this one thing”, it is the missing link between us and success. (Sounds like “the watermelon diet”… or a Fitbit!)

So, broad strokes, what we see is individual apps performing few functions, but linked seamlessly together:

2018-05-08-Tools3

Think about the health & fitness genre where countless food/calorie apps link with countless fitness apps which link with a handful of wearable devices, and combined they are supposed to magically make us lose weight since we obviously couldn’t do it before (hmmm).

The barrier for entry is low—anyone can write a web software or app—compared to trying to get packaged software in every store. But the “promised” integrations are not always seamless or working (or free).

Yet I find that the more separate tools I use, even if individually they are easy, collectively my effectiveness goes down because I am constantly bouncing between multiple tools.


Beware of any software product that claims to make a typically difficult process “easy”.


Any software that promises you will raise more support because of the software itself or any support raising software that promises to make partnership development “easy” is probably promising what it cannot deliver.


Spoiler alert: Support raising IS hard work. Don’t confuse the difficulty of support raising with the difficulty of the software.


Personal finance tools are the most closely related to support raising tools because both habits require continual ‘touch’ to be successful; the longer you neglect the tool, the less helpful they will be. Look at some of these claims for popular personal financial web-based tools:

  • “We help you effortlessly manage your finances in one place.” (Mint.com)
  • “Don’t just track your spending. Fix it.” (Mvelopes)
  • “Gain Total Control of Your Money. Stop living paycheck to paycheck, get out of debt, and save more money.” (You Need A Budget)
  • “Simplify complexity around your constantly evolving life” (Personal Capital)
  • “Budgeting Just Got Easy” (Every Dollar, from DaveRamsey.com)

And are these tools easier than Quicken? I’m not sure… because now there are entire web sites devoted just to helping people decide which of the hundreds of personal finance apps are best! And frankly, they all promise the same thing!

Furthermore, when Quicken was king (circa 2000), I could teach Quicken classes. Now every person I know who needs help with personal finances is using a different tool… or none at all… so I cannot help them. And when I recommend a software product, they try it for a few days and then abandon it “because it isn’t working for me”. The curse of overwhelming choices is that there is a lack of commitment to one. My failure is because I have the wrong tool, so I’ll keep searching for a better tool… because they all promise to solve my problem. Elusive.

This year I am actually retrenching and doing less with less. I am focusing more on those things I do best—communicating regularly with my partners using paper mail, and calling them just to say Hi and tell them I appreciate them.

This is also why I use these blog posts, occasionally, to give you an idea on how to do something clever or unique with TNT; I want you to avoid the “promise trap” that there is some other software just out of reach that will take you to Support Raising Utopia.

This blog post was generated from a few questions on December’s feedback survey about why there are different support raising tools and “Why doesn’t TNT do everything on every device?”