Happy “New” Year

2020-01-24 Cape Schanck (12) Pulpit Rock

Pulpit Rock, Cape Schanck, near Melbourne, Australia (January 2020)

About a year ago I needed to take a sabbatical from writing TNT.tips because of a major project I am working on in my organization. I can say, looking backwards, that it was a wise decision as 2019 turned out to be the most taxing year of my career in ministry. It reminds me of the day I learned to water ski as a college student, hanging on to a long rope while being pummeled by the wake of the boat.

Thankfully, 2020 has started out at a more reasonable pace… more like a normal year should. With the one exception being that it is February 21 and it feels like January 5! This is due to the lingering holdover from 2019 being wrapped up. (The picture above was from a recent trip to Melbourne where we’re beginning the 2020 project.)

With a window of opportunity, I want to start posting in http://www.TNT.Tips again, using the classic wedding adage…

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

From the “something old” department: In 2015 I created a “video of the week” series for TntMPD. I posted it on a partner site called SmartStory, which hosted our video series pro bono as I was helping them explore this new video training tool.

Unfortunately, within weeks of completing those 52 videos, TntMPD’s name changed to TntConnect. And within about two years, SmartStory discontinued the hosted video product as it was not viable for them or their paid customers; they instead decided only to invest in their main platform.

Even though those videos all say TntMPD on them, the content is the same and the software is (for the most part) unchanged on the described features. Each video is approximately 2 minutes, and are designed to explore a lot of the basics of TNT. I’m confident they still have a lot of value, and will use this blog to post one of them [almost] every week for the next year.

To that end, after I send the introductory video next week, I would encourage you to link others to it who may benefit from learning more about the basics of TNT. And who knows, you may learn something too!

From the “something new” department, you have probably heard that there is a new release of TntConnect coming out very soon, TntConnect 4.0. This is a “major change” for the database, so if you upgrade, your database will be adapted to the new version and no longer work in 3.5.

There are not a lot of new features from a user’s perspective, but the underlying technology is driving this change. Specifically, this change adapts better to the recent improvements in DonorHub, and it also solves a major incompatibility with Mac OS Catalina.

Note: If you import donations into TntConnect using the Tools > Update Donor/Gift Info from File, this feature will not be in 4.0. In my experience keeping an eye on the forums, this feature creates among the highest frequency of help requests and is among the most problematic. Not because of TNT itself, but because of issues with the files that people or ministries create. This feature is a legacy feature from 10-20 years ago when very few organizations could send data via the web. That has changed now, so it’s time to close the loop on this feature.

While this feature is going away, if it is critical to you, then you can keep using 3.5 forever–as long as your system supports it. (Yes, there are still people using TNT 1.6 and 2.0!).

Looking forward a great new year with you!

Bob

The Year of the Partner

1156-LondonBridge

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.

Bob

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 http://www.tnt.tips@gmail.com 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:

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