Welcome to TntConnect

Hi! Welcome to TNT Tips! My name is Bob Mac Leod, and I have served on the mission field for more than 30 years. TntConnect has been an indispensible part of my partnership development (PD) for 20 years.

One of my favorite things to do in my ministry is to help other people use TntConnect and personal financial management tools, so that they can be more effective in ministry. This blog is designed to help you glean, little by little, tips on how to use TntConnect more effectively. Some posts are focused more on PD principles than the software, but really, the two go hand-in-hand.

Don’t be fooled by the ‘simplicity’ of basic tips… often advanced users can gain something new, when they are exposed to something they have never seen before. A great example of this happened to me. I have always considered myself a car guy, but recently learned from my neighbor that my four-year-old Toyota has a way to lock the doors without me having to pull the fob out of my pocket and press the button. This feature was always there, and was easier than any other method I knew of. But until someone gave me the tip, the feature was useless to me.

If I have the key fob in my pocket and tap these dimples, the doors will lock automatically.

In this http://www.TNT.tips blog series called “Back to the Basics”, I try to do three things:

  1. Give you “Quick Tips” on how to use TNT more effectively. Anytime you are using a software, whether it is new to you or you have been using it for a long time, and someone comes along and shows you how to do something you did not know the software could do, that is a great thing. Especially when it helps you use the software better.
  2. Highlight common mistakes that users make. I have been teaching TNT classes all over the world, and I often see people doing things because they do not realize that TNT has a better way. They are just doing it the way they first learned it or first figured out how to do it. So I highlight some of those common mistakes. They aren’t really “mistakes”, of course. There’s no wrong way to use a software that exists solely for your benefit. But many times we missionaries take the hard way while the easy way is right there.
  3. Occasionally I try and show you some nifty tricks that make TNT really cool. This is different than tips on how to use it, because some of these are ‘secret’ features or just ‘cool things’ that TNT does that may not be readily visible or obvious to you.

TntConnect is like many personal benefit software tools (such as a calorie or exercise app, a financial app, etc.) in that users fall into three general categories:

  1. Use the tool to meet a couple of specific needs. The VAST majority of TNT users use TntConnect for just two things: (1) Manage their newsletter list and (2) View and respond to giving. Let’s say this is 80-90% of all users. [And they are deliriously happy!]
  2. Actively use the tool to manage their PD efforts. This may be 10-19% of users. They log history, view reports, maybe track campaigns. [And they are deliriously happy!]
  3. The “power users”. This may represent 1% of all users. These people LOVE their software tool and try to use every feature they possible can. They think everyone else should too! (In fact, they often think they are simply an “average” user and everyone uses it like they do!) [And THEY are deliriously happy!].

The beauty of TNT is that it works great for all three types of users!

The goal of TntConnect (and any partnership development software) is to help you more effectively build relationships with your ministry partners. And if somehow TNT can make that more enjoyable, all the better! My goal in ministry is not to help you use software better. It is to help you thrive in ministry, so that you can be more effective in what you do, and more people can hear the life-saving message of Jesus Christ. Using a partnership development software frees up your time so that you can be more effective in ministry.

I hope you enjoy this series and I look forward to bringing it to you.

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To release the belt, lift the top of the buckle.

If you fly much, you could probably repeat this paragraph by heart:

As we leave the gate, make sure your seatbelt is fastened. To fasten, insert the metal tip into the buckle, and adjust the strap so it’s low and tight across your lap. To release the belt, lift the top of the buckle. Remain seated with your seatbelt securely fastened anytime the seatbelt sign is on. Even if the sign is off, we ask that you keep your seatbelt fastened while seated in case we experience some unexpected turbulence.

I never thought I would see the day. On a recent flight from Toronto, we had arrived at the gate and the woman across from me was stuck: She did not know how to release the belt.

  • Raise your hand if you do not know how to open a seat belt on a plane.
  • And now—honesty here—raise your hand if you ever thought how ridiculous it is that they even have to show you how to open a seat belt on a plane during the safety presentation.

I have asked myself that silly question many times before now, but … I sit corrected. Watching that woman attempting—unsuccessfully—to separate the two belts was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in a while.

I once read a book on training (title long forgotten) with a laughable cartoon on this very topic of airplane seat belts. The man has his eyes and mouth wide open and says, “Oh, THAT’s how it works!” The writer makes the comment that even the most elementary activity is NEW to everyone … the first time they do it. Our challenge is keeping the “curse of knowledge” from derailing our teaching.

For this reason, I am planning a new series for this blog this year: Back to the Basics. Each week I plan to present a “Tip of the Week” to help people explore TntConnect. These quick reads may—at times—seem irrelevant to you. But then again, you may be reading the tenth blog post and say, “Well, I’ll be! I didn’t know you could do that!”

This actually happened to me recently: Last summer my neighbor purchased a 2020 Toyota RAV4, her first ultra-modern car (e.g., newer than 2005). She can start the car even if the fob is in her purse. She was talking with another neighbor about her frustration in having to dig up the fob from her purse to lock the doors, seemingly defeating the purpose of hands-free. The neighbor said, “You know, if the fob is in your purse, you can just tap the door handle and it will lock.”

Wow! So my friend was thrilled with this information. Funny thing: We have a 2016 Toyota Sienna and when she told me this story, I learned something NEW about the van I have had for four years. Hmmm. And I consider myself a car guy.

Tapping these two dimples on the front door handles will lock/unlock the door if I have the key fob on me. Toyota has several automatic lock/unlock features, but this one was new to me.

I’m confident these Aha! moments can happen for you too, because of this story:

I was doing financial stewardship coaching at a conference for new staff at our organization in Little Rock, Arkansas. Since this was a new staff event, the schedule always included a one-hour intro to TNT. The host and emcee of the little event normally delivered this seminar himself, but since I was there, he asked me to do it. “After all,” he said, “you’re the expert!”

I took HIS presentation, HIS PowerPoint, HIS notes, and delivered HIS talk. Afterwards, he came back up to the podium and thanked me … and said he learned two new things!

Another story, can’t resist: Every year we have a group of 20-30 field staff who spend a year at our headquarters as a pause from field work. Focusing on partnership development is a key part of this sabbatical-like year, so early in their year I would come and deliver two hour-long TNT sessions back-to-back. I called one “Basic” and one “Advanced”, because there was always a mix of people—some who have used TNT for years and some who had rarely or never opened it. Do you know what I discovered? Many people who self-identified as an “Advanced” TNT user (and thus skipped the first hour) were often unfamiliar with some of the concepts I deemed very basic.

I wrote my first book on using TNT in the fall of 2002 for this same reason: While chatting with my friend David Nagy I saw him do something in TNT I had never seen before. Stunned, I asked him to show me. That prompted me to write my first book on using TNT so that others could maximize their benefit from this great tool.

I also want to use this year’s blog posts to create a library of basics that we can post in the TntConnect Help site, or even publish as a guide book of single-page quick references.

In light of that, if your organization supports Gift Input to TntConnect, can I encourage you to reach out to your Partnership Development staff and let them know about this blog? You can help spread the word about this blog and help your fellow staff members thrive in PD.

Thank you!

(Credits: I took all three of the pictures in this post.)

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee

Stability.

A year ago I posted about my “word for the year”, and the word I chose was Stability. Pandemic aside, 2020 had been a pretty chaotic year for me in my regular work. The week I wrote that blog post I started a new role that has proven to be the most challenging one vocationally in all of my years of serving in my organization. But I’m pleased to report that despite many changes in my work, compared to 2020, this past year has been a moored ship. Stability.

I was contemplating this a little bit over the New Year’s Weekend while returning from a holiday trip to the sub-zero temps of Minnesota. The word that came to me, surprisingly, was Joy. I suppose in part that is because I have a lovely Christmas sign outside our front door:

As I reflected on this in the airport and on my flight, and since then, that one word has stuck with me so far. I don’t have a lot of margin right now, so I have to make quick decisions. I’m sticking with it.

My paperback dictionary defines Joy as, simply,

n. 1. A feeling of great pleasure or happiness. 2. A source of pleasure.

v. To rejoice.

Wiktionary.org takes it a step further by emphasizing, “A feeling of extreme happiness or cheerfulness.” (italics mine).

Joy is an interesting word because it is so closely linked to happiness, cheerfulness, or pleasure. It plays a prominent role in the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22): The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…”. The ESV Study Bible says, “[In importance in the list,] Joy comes in at a close second, for in rejoicing in God’s salvation Christians show that their affections are rightly placed in God’s will and his purpose.”

Another commentary says, “‘Joy’ (chara) is the virtue in the Christian life corresponding to happiness in the secular world. On the surface they seem related. But happiness depends on circumstances, whereas joy does not. In the NT a form of the word ‘joy’ becomes a typical—and the most popular—Christian greeting. Joy is particularly full when what was lost spiritually is found.” [Referencing five separate stories in Luke 15 where Joy is expressed when the lost item, person, or soul, is found.]

How does this relate to my partnership development and TntConnect? In my communications with partners. When I see a Thank You task pop up, that often brings me joy because it indicates something special has happened. But can I return the favour? Can I change how I communicate so that when a partner sees my envelope, it brings them joy, even before opening the envelope? (That is, I want my communications to be sprinkled with joy, so that future communications will elicit joy in them just seeing a letter from me; they will want to open the envelope because they know it will be worth their time.)

In the Bible, joy is not reserved for me. In Esther 8:17, the king’s edict saving the Jews naturally elicited joy among them. In Nehemiah 8:10, the Lord is joyful: “Then he said to them, ‘Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’” And John shows that it can be shared: “Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.” (2 John 12)

It’s been a rough couple of years out there both from Covid and politics. Conversations are frequently littered with challenges and frustrations. Over the holidays I asked a relative about a trip he had taken, and after a few short highlights, he spent the rest of the conversation detailing all of the things that went wrong… all of which were minor. Ouch. I am becoming more conscious recently of when I go down a non-joyful bunny trail that does not “bring grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

As I am looking at writing newsletters and personal notes this year, it is my goal to ground them in a desire to spread joy. How can I write in such a way as to bring joy to the person reading? And maybe, even in my blog posts too…