Hi, Clark, meet Clark

I am absolutely convinced that when it comes to interpersonal relations, the digital age has hindered us, not helped us.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, my mother had a “Day Timer” brand address book–which she filled out by hand. It was the handiest little tool for her. It had tiny little rings and she could add pages whenever she got too many names for one letter of the alphabet. In the box with each address, there was actually a set of little checkboxes and she could record sending and receiving Christmas cards each year from each person in her list.

She had that book for years–maybe two decades. Never lost it or left it anywhere. And in it she had every name and address of significance to her. She hand-addressed every Christmas card she sent.

Fast forward 30-40 years, and tell me if our lives have improved:

  • Now I have multiple name and address tools.
  • I have TntConnect, my phone’s Contacts app, several email systems, online address lists for Boy Scouts or our school groups or our church small groups.
  • Most of these lists still do not synchronize with each other.
  • And even more than that, everyone I know now has about 10-15 “addresses, #, @, and phone numbers” vs. the one address and two phone numbers (home and work) they used to have.
  • And this is easier?!

Of course, the irony here is that we have more information about our friends than ever before, yet it is harder to reach them than ever.

I think we dream of a time when every we will have a “one stop shop” for every name and address.

In the meantime, at least, TntConnect does at least help you avoid duplicates in one system. When I enter a new contact–or download a gift from a person for the first time–TntConnect scans through my database to see if that person may already be in my database. For example, if I enter Clark Kent as a new contact in my database, TntConnect not only checks to see if there is a Clark Kent already in there, but even the addresses too (to see if “Clark Kent” on 123 Maple St. is the same as “Lois Kent” on 123 Maple St.).

This type of duplicate checking is a handy little feature that in the big picture does not make a major difference. But it is a nice thing, and I appreciate it.

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TntConnect: Not just for support raising

Quick question: Did you know that TntConnect can be used for more than support raising?

My main ministry calling is helping missionaries and ministries use God’s money wisely. Typically, this means helping them with assorted financial management tools (such as TntConnect). But it also means helping them with software like Microsoft Office products and other accounting and finance software. I also do a lot of coaching both for support raising and personal financial stewardship.

Because I have met with over 1,000 people in these activities over the past 12 years, I have found that keeping a separate TntConnect database just for this purpose is very helpful. Especially when I am serving as a support raising coach and meet with someone every week, it is so helpful to use TntConnect’s powerful history engine to track our appointments, and their commitments for the week. I have used it to track classes I have taught all over the world, and even tech support work I have done–sometimes years later–with people who attended those classes.

Only 20% of the contacts in my TntConnect databases are current donors to our ministry work.

TntConnect could be very useful for anyone who is involved in a regular coaching or discipleship context. It could also be useful for tracking attendance at events of various kinds.

And, from a non-ministry perspective, TntConnect would be useful for anyone who wants a powerful tracking tool for tracking their work in a non-profit, in a community setting, or even as a sales/customer relationship tool.

Of course TntConnect is designed primarily for support raising, and its gift-management features are what make it unique. And there are many tools out there, especially online, that are designed for managing tasks and relationships. But the History engine in TntConnect is so powerful and fast that it really sets TntConnect apart from any other software in the world (in my opinion). Lately I have been test driving other support raising software, and I have never seen any software that manages tasks/history with anything even close to the power TNT does.

Plus, I like using the same software for both ministry and non-ministry… then I am only managing one tool.

Food for thought.

Correspondence Log & Contractors

  • Is your [non-donor] plumber or attorney in TntConnect?
  • Did you log your last phone call with your cell phone provider or your last appliance repair in TntConnect?
  • Did it ever occur to you to even do that?

Here’s an entry I pulled from 2007 in my TNT, when I wrote a sympathy card to someone in my church. Here’s the note I logged in my history:

Recently, Chris’s company was bought out; the new company fired the entire leadership team, including Chris. While reeling from this, his father died. While he was at the funeral, lightning struck the exhaust fan in his bathroom, catching it on fire, which fell in the garbage can, starting it on fire, which burned through the toilet supply hose, which flooded the house, causing $35k in damages.

Chris is not a donor or even a prospect to my personal ministry, but I wrote him a card. And I logged it in TNT. Recently I have been trying to write more personal thank yous (on real paper) to non-donors—a vendor I met with recently, a co-worker who went the extra mile for me, a leader in my Scout troop who just turned 50.

I have a contact in TNT simply named, “Correspondence Log“, and in that contact’s history I log a wide variety of things:

  • Letters, thank yous, and notes to non-partners
  • Canceling subscriptions or other annoying solicitations
  • Any interaction with a vendor that I might want to recall later (often these start out with a single call, but then if not resolved take multiple calls, remembering who I talked to, what their commitment/next action was, etc.)

I have a second contact in TNT named, “Contractors”. In the Notes tab I have a list of contractors I have worked with, and then in the History I log any kind of service call, appliance repair, etc.

Finally, for those individuals or professionals I visit on a regular basis, I have added them as new contacts with the TNT Phase of “Never Ask”:

  • Doctor
  • Dentists
  • Attorney

These contacts are individually added to my database because I want their full name, address, and phone numbers, just like I do with my other contacts.

These special contacts (“Correspondence Log” and “Contractors”) are setup as organizations:

2017-05-18-CorrespondenceLog1

And I log relevant conversations:

2017-05-18-CorrespondenceLog22017-05-18-CorrespondenceLog3

“Variant or Safe Array is Locked”

“Variant or Safe Array is Locked”

If there was ever a helpful error message, that’s it. If you use a PC, you may have seen that error this week when you tried to come in to TntConnect.

This is not really a TntConnect error. Microsoft downloaded a new “Update” onto your computer–you know, that lovely “Update and Shut Down” and you have no idea how long that will take. Then you may not have opened TNT until later or even the next day. That security update is what prevented TntConnect from opening your database.

There’s already a fix for this, and you can install the latest release to get it.

The error only prevents your database from opening, not the software itself.

If you have TntConnect open (even with your database being open), just select Help | Check for Updates. You can then download the current release (3.2 r8 at the moment I am writing this), which overcomes this Windows obstacle.

If you do not have TntConnect open, just go also to the TntConnect web site and download the latest version from there.

2017-04-14-CheckForUpdates

Just for fun, here’s an error report I received from a user three years ago yesterday (in our ministry’s help tool for donation software):

2017-04-14-2014HelpRequest

I hope you have a blessed Easter! Remember, we’re in mission work because Christ died on the cross for our sins… and rose again. Little errors like this one today are just the little challenges we face in doing this great work.

 

A deceased advertising exec helps me with support raising

This is a free bonus post about support raising, not really related to TntConnect.

I just stopped in to Staples (an office supply store in the U.S.), and honestly it was to use the restroom and not to buy office supplies.

As I left the restroom, I passed some of their office furniture, and on a desk was a stray book from their very tiny book rack. It was titled It’s Not How Good You are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, by Paul Arden—an advertising executive who passed away in 2008.

Curious, I picked it up to see if I could get the gist of it in 5 seconds before leaving the store. It was a small book with big page headings, wide margins, and a large font. Two minutes later I was sitting in one of the office chairs skimming the book. Ten minutes later I had skimmed about 75% of it. Then I purchased it and left the store with it.

Why is that?

Because I realized the book was about support raising.

My main takeaway—which I hope to gather more of when I can actually sit down and read it fully—is that my attitude is the #1 predictor of my forward motion. But I also got some other things from this rapid skimming:

  • The easiest way to get to a goal is to write it down in the first place and pursue it unswervingly
  • Failure is awesome and extremely helpful. The most successful people have failed a lot. It’s the people who play it safe who never seem to move forward much.
  • It’s a lot easier to talk to a client (e.g., potential ministry partner) in a language they understand… instead of trying to get them to understand my language.

And this isn’t the first book that struck me this way.

Outside of the support-raising “greats” (Funding Your Ministry and The God Ask), the greatest book I ever read on raising financial support was The 7 Deadly Diseases of Ministry Marketing by Doug Brendel. A book about fund-development for small (and large) ministries, I ‘found’ it in the lobby of a hotel at a conference on ministry operations that I was attending in February 1999.

This was not a book for any of my sessions, and another attendee must have either discarded it or forgotten it. Or so I thought when I picked it up and skimmed the chapter headings. But God had put it there for me, and it absolutely transformed how I both think and act about raising financial support for my ministry.

In November 2012 I read The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough. This deeply-researched history on the building of the Panama Canal contains, smack dab in the middle, several pages about an obscure Frenchman, Philippe Bunau-Varilla, who undertook to get the forsaken project sold to a leery American Congress. Thirty thousand people died while the French tried to build the Panama Canal before abandoning it 10% finished. The U.S. government was intent on building a canal, but in Nicaragua. How did he almost single-handedly change the mind of hundreds of key decision-makers? By employing the very same principles of building relationships that are so critical to raising personal support:

  • Believing unswervingly in our calling
  • Seeking referrals at every opportunity
  • Being generous with gifts to those who support our work
  • Thanking everyone who should be thanked, immediately

My point in sharing about these three books is that in each of these cases, these books had absolutely nothing to do with raising personal financial support. Yet amazingly, it is from unlikely sources like these I have found some of the most helpful principles that I apply in my support raising.

(The connection to TntConnect: TntConnect helps me put these principles into practice.)

Quick link to Staff Portal

About 60% of TntConnect users are able to download gifts from the web using the Gift Input button. Most of those organizations have some kind of web site that their staff can use to view either donation information and/or staff account Income & Expense reports.

For many ministries, this web host is called the “Staff Portal” because the software they use calls it that. Other ministries call it their “Staff Web”, and still others have their own custom name.

What many users do not know, however, is that they do not need to rely on their browser and bookmarks to get to that Staff Portal.

When you click the Gift Input button, TntConnect quickly links to your ministry to open the channel to download gifts, as well as display your ministry account balance (if applicable).

The big ministry logo at the top of the Gift Input screen is actually a big hyperlink to the Staff Portal:

2016-09-19-StaffPortalHyperlink.jpg

Now, about your organization’s ability to send gifts to missionaries:

Any ministry that wants to send gifts to their staff online must have a web-based host to do that. A few very large ministries have their own tech teams to host those servers, but many other ministries (from tiny to quite big) use a web hosting tool provided by TntWare, the same ministry that makes TntConnect available for free.

This web-hosting service is called DonorHub. DonorHub connects to the ministry’s donation software and hosts that data on the web. The missionaries can then view it online using DonorHub’s “Staff Portal”. Or the missionaries can also download the gifts into TntConnect or any other support raising software. (In other words, because DonorHub offers an online web screen for the donation information it sends to TNT, that means it can be used by ANY missionary in the ministry, no matter what computer, tablet, or other device they are using!

DonorHub frees the mission organization from the burden of delivering any donation or account expense information to their staff.

(Note: DonorHub is a web-based tool for the organization’s home office, and does have a small cost for those ministries that use it, to cover the costs of the service itself. But the value it returns is significant.)

Welcome to www.TNT.tips!

Welcome to 50 new subscribers who have joined the new http://www.TNT.tips blog this week (the first “official” week)!

My name is Bob Mac Leod and I serve with Campus Crusade for Christ’s international ministry. (Campus Crusade’s U.S. ministry is now known as Cru, but I work with the international side. This blog is not associated with Cru, but is my personal effort to help other missionaries.)

I really dragged my feet when it came to using TNT. I had a very good—even “mobile” solution—back in 2002. I kept all of my support contacts on my Palm Pilot, and I tracked all of their giving and my activity in Excel. I was perfectly happy! Then my team-mates Jennifer and Julia pestered me for six months to download this great new software. Reluctantly, I finally did… and the next day I never looked back.

Since then, it has been my hobby and joy to help people use TNT more effectively. Because I love to learn software and help others, I originally wrote all of the online documentation for TNT (secretly: just to help me master the software!). In hopes of writing a blog someday I actually wrote a “tip of the week” series that I later included in the help manual. (That is the source of many of my blog entries.) Since that time God has given me the privilege of teaching TNT to missionaries in more than 25 countries while travelling for my regular ministry work.

Many of my blog entries come from something I am doing in TntConnect right now, and it occurs to me it may be helpful to others.

But a major reason I wanted to write this blog is because I know that many people pick up new software skills unexpectedly.

Quick story: While I was teaching a personal financial stewardship seminar at a support raising conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, one of the conference planners had a TNT talk scheduled later in the day. Since I was there, he asked me if I wanted to deliver his talk. The notes were already printed in the notebook, so I used his notes to deliver his talk. Afterwards, he said he learned two new things! This was just because I sprinkled in helpful tips as I gave the talk.

Beautiful business woman with idea light bulb above hand isolate
“I didn’t know TntConnect could do that!”

What I have learned is that sometimes the most helpful little tips make the biggest difference, especially when using a software we really enjoy and use often. You may see 20 tips and find them helpful, then one tip will be ‘the most helpful thing you learned this year’.

It is my hope that this little blog will make a big ‘little’ difference in your enjoyment and use of TntConnect… but more importantly, in your support raising efforts.

Thanks for coming, and I welcome your feedback at http://www.TNT.tips@gmail.com.

You can share this twice-weekly blog with your friends and encourage them to sign up for the email post.