The Year of the Partner


Hello and welcome to 2019! When I took a Pause in September, 2018, I had no idea what God had in store for me in the Fall. I mentioned in that post that my life was a bit crazy due to a new donation system we’re rolling out in our ministries around the world (um, next week). I did not know at the time that between then and Christmas I would be in Budapest, London, Paris, and Auckland doing design work on the system.

I confess that simply naming those cities brings a different response than if I say I am going to, perhaps, Bismarck (North Dakota), Peoria (Illinois), Schenectady (New York) or Brandon (Manitoba). While it is my objective to make the most of any place I go to, going to those places without my travel-loving wife is only half as good.

But there is a downside to a busy season like I am going through: My relationships with my ministry partners really suffers.

Since 2002 I have tried to use TNT’s History Log to record all of my interactions with partners. I recently ran a query of my lifetime history in TNT and made a somewhat discouraging discovery: In those 16 years, 2018 was the dead last for my initiations with partners… # of appointments, letters, newsletters, and phone calls (actually phone calls was 15th out of 16, by two calls!).

I’ve also used TNT to log a pledge change for every partner since 1990, and of those 29 years, 2017 & 2018 came in 28th and 29th in terms of new support raised for our ministry work.

Clearly I cannot have another year with statistics like that!

In light of that, and in spite of my busy schedule, I have declared 2019 to be my “Year of the Partner”. I made three very simple New Year’s Resolutions just for partnership development:

  • Write a thank you everyday
  • Call every Financial Partner at least twice, just to say Hi
  • Write a newsletter every month (I went 5 months without a newsletter in 2018)

How am I doing? January just ended and I’ve written 32 thank yous. I had intentionally completed all of my 2018 year-end special gift thank yous before 12/31 to start 2019 with a blank list. I’ve had a handful of “have not thanked in some time” tasks pop up and a few special or annual gifts in January.

Without any pending thank yous in TNT, sometimes I’ve had to be creative: Last week I sent a thank you to the friendly person at Sam’s Club who helped me. This week I sent a co-worker a thank you… in the mail.

(Yes, they are not ministry partners. But I found that when I’m thanking every day, each new TNT thank you task gets completed promptly.)

One time a few years ago I discovered my thanking had plummeted way below normal, and I made a humorous discovery as to why: I had run out of thank you cards! So I have already purchased 200 cards made by a friend who is a professional photographer from some time she spent on the countryside in England. These are timeless, occasion-less photos of thatched roof cottages, doors in brick walls, rowboats in a canal, etc., so they are perfect for any purpose and also gender neutral which is good for a man who writes cards to women and men.

Do I think you should write a thank you every day and a newsletter every month? Not at all. My encouragement to you is to find one or two easily-accomplishable habits to help you just connect and love on your partners this year.

It’s good to chat again.


p.s.: As I go into 2019, I would love input from you on what questions I can address in this blog. Send your questions to and I will try to work them in to future posts.



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:


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:


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


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

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.


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.