It’s that time: Year-End Campaigns

The end of November is the time when many missionaries send special gift appeals letters to their partners, giving them an opportunity to send a special gift. For some missionaries this is because they have a genuine need for additional funds. But for many missionaries, it is because their partners are seeking opportunities to give during the Christmas season.

This year, the “Appeal Tracking” feature in TntConnect was renamed as “Campaign Tracking” to reflect the expanded tools that TntConnect was offering. There is so much more to a campaign than just an appeal. I won’t go into that here, though. For this post, the principle is the same: It is year end, and for many people that is time to send a letter to their partners about a year-end giving opportunity.

TntConnect is incredibly helpful in preparing year-end special gift appeals. TntConnect can help you do these things:

  • Select the group of contacts to send the appeal letter to
  • Prepare the mail merge for the letter and the envelope
  • Record the sending of the letter to the selected group
  • Record the individual gifts given in response to the appeal, separate from the partners’ regular giving.

I personally think TntConnect’s powerful “Special Gift Appeal Tracking” feature is the #1 most “under-used” feature in TntConnect. You can read more about it in this step-by-step guide. (Note: This step-by-step guide was created in a previous version of TNT, so it still uses the words “Appeals” and “Appeal Tracking”, but you can figure that out.)

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Go Back in Time

If you download gifts from your organization, you are familiar with the Starting Date / Ending Date calendars in the gift download:

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In the above example, the start date is about six weeks before the end date. The default is not “six weeks back from today”, but roughly six weeks “before your last download” as you may only download periodically. The ‘back in time’ feature is because it is common for organizations to have adjustments or corrections or even late-posting gifts. (In our ministry, for example, credit card gifts take longer to process than cheque gifts.)

The challenge with this practice, though, is that sometimes your ministry may correct a gift that was six months ago. It is not uncommon for a partner to get a year-end giving statement and notice a mistake from months earlier.

For this reason, once or twice a year I reset the Starting Date on my calendar all the way back to the first available date. (The first available date is the oldest gift in your ministry’s system.)

Quick tip: When you go way back for the first time, you may see some new gifts come in, some gifts may be slightly changed (e.g., date of gift, amount, donor name), but you may also see some gifts deleted from your database.

TntConnect will alert you when a gift is about to be deleted. Pay attention to this! Once you click Sync, that gift will be removed with no record of it. So if you see this red message, you may want to ask yourself “Why?!” before you sync.

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As a reminder, TntConnect does not download address corrections when you download gifts. If a partner has changed their address (with the ministry) but not told you, you need to select Tools | Update Donor Info to see those changes.

Why doesn’t TNT just download all gifts and/or all addresses every time? Because of how long it would take. (You would not want to download all data every time!)

Tip: Technology changes can sometimes affect how gifts can be delivered to support raising software, in one of two ways:

  1. Your organization may be adopting a new system that is not compatible with TntConnect. If this will happen, while you still can you may want to do a download back from the first available date to ensure all gift data is correct.
  2. Or, some organizations only keep so many “active” years (e.g., 7-10) in the data warehouse, so periodically going back in time makes sure you have the correct data even after it is no longer downloadable. When I first started using TNT in 2002, my organization offered donations back to 1994. But they dropped off one year at a time and now only go back to 1/1/2004.

Right-click to change Gift Input

Here’s a tip you will probably only use once, if ever. But if you need it, you’ll be glad you knew about it.

You can change the behaviour of the Gift Input button by right-clicking on it.

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The Gift Input button is actually just a shortcut. The default shortcut goes to “Tools | Update Gift Info” for the web-input screen. But about 40% of TNT users cannot download gifts, and many of these use the Manual Gift Entry Form to get their gifts in quickly.

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So, by right-clicking you can change the button to go to Tools | Manual Gift Entry Form instead.

When you use the Manual Gift Entry Form (or manually enter gifts one-at-a-time on the TNT Tab), TntConnect still performs the same Automatic Actions for New Gifts that it does for downloaded gifts.

There are some organizations that have made a technology change and they no longer support gift download. If your organization has changed your ability to download gifts, and you now have to enter gifts manually, you can do this in just a few minutes each month and still get all the power of TNT at your fingertips.

My Campaign for Campaigns

Probably the most significant new feature of TntConnect 3.2 is the Campaign Builder.

What was known in TNT until recently as a Special Gift Appeal, or in ministries as “Special Asks”, is now called “Campaigns” in TntConnect.

Why the change? Because an Appeal implies a one-time ask. It is also often related to a single “Support Letter” (task type). For example, many missionaries may do a special appeal for a summer mission trip, a new baby, a specific need such as a vehicle or medical expenses, or even an annual recurring appeal around year-end. Each of these appeals implies a ‘funding opportunity’ for partners.

In some cases the missionary may be seeking a specific amount (such as the amount needed for the vehicle or the travel expenses for the summer mission trip), while in others there is no exact amount specified (such as a year-end appeal which is just an ‘extra giving opportunity’).

TntConnect 3.2 takes Appeal Tracking to an all-new level, and this is reflected in the new name of “Campaigns”. While the focus of the new Campaign features is primarily local teams or small ministries, individual TntConnect users may find these new features to be very helpful.

There is a lot to unpack with all of the new Campaign features, so let me list some and then give a screen shot of the most impressive new feature. Don’t worry if some these don’t make any sense… features this powerful will take time to learn and benefit from!

Here are some bullet points related to the new features:

  • Campaigns are the NEW name for what was formerly “Special Gift Appeals”
  • “Campaign Tracking” is the new name for “Special Gift Appeal Tracking”
  • Campaigns can now have a goal amount
  • Campaigns can have a start and end date
  • Campaigns can be linked to both one-time gifts and monthly increases (such as an “Increase Campaign”)
  • Completed campaigns can now be inactivated (they will not appear in the drop-down list in Add Gifts, for example… but they can still be used easily if needed)
  • Partners can make a promise in advance of fulfilling the gift
  • Partners can make promises to multiple campaigns
  • Partners can fulfill a portion of one or more promise(s) with a single gift
  • A Campaign Builder (shown below) helps you categorize your potential partners using the new “Partner Pyramid”
  • The Campaign Builder, when run, will automatically create Saved Groups for each level of the Campaign, and automatically assign contacts exclusively to each level
  • The Data Change Log will log when you move a partner from one campaign group to another

To whet your appetite, here is a screen shot of the new Campaign Builder which divides a list of contacts into three levels based on their giving record:

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The Campaign Builder has a lot of stuff behind it that I cannot even scratch the surface of here! I could write blog posts for months just to unpack all of the new features related to Campaigns!

New Pledge Change in History

I’ve written before that I love tracking stuff. When I first started using TntMPD back in 2002, one of the first things I said was, “Wow, I wish I had TntMPD when I first started raising personal support 10 years ago!” I lamented the hundreds of lost contacts and thousands of unrecorded history items. 😦

Speaking of that, I always thought it would be handy if TNT would record every time a partner changed their pledge. The only way for me to determine that was to scroll through each partner’s gift list individually and just guess the dates.

Since TNT could not do that automatically, I started using the History Log to record a “To Do” each time a partner changed their pledge. I wrote a simple little code (“PC:” for “Pledge Change”) followed by the change they made. Then I could look at a contact’s history and see all of their pledge changes from their first commitment.

Fast forward 15 years, and now that feature exists in TntConnect 3.2!

Now, when you change a pledge amount for a partner, you will see this new Data Change in the history log. There is also a coloured icon that tells you whether the pledge changed up or down:

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Using the History View you can later filter these data changes, to view just the pledge changes or even view just the pledge changes for a specific contact. (But there is not room to explain that here.)

Note: Unfortunately, TNT does not have a way to build your pledge history by going back and retroactively guessing the date of pledge changes from when your gifts first started in TNT, whether that was 2015 or 1990. But if you’re really motivated, you could manually enter them (wink)!

Export Giving Details

In my previous post, I introduced the flexible Lookup By Giving which helped find a donor who had given a specific gift—I knew the amount and month, but not the person. The Lookup By Giving showed me all donors who gave during a certain time frame and/or gifts of a certain amount.

The Lookups in TntConnect are just “filters” that narrow down my list of contacts based on any of hundreds of criteria. But Lookups do not return “amounts”… only “names”—the contacts who meet the filter criteria.

For support raising, it can be very helpful to know the amounts that people give. This helps me answer questions like this:

  • Who are my Top 10 partners?
  • What is the total given to my personal ministry this year/last year/last 12 months/lifetime?
  • What is the largest gift each partner has given? (Helps me know what amount to challenge in the future.)
  • When was the first gift each partner gave?
  • How many gifts has each partner given?

TntConnect stores contact information in a place called the “Contact Table”, which is where all of the name and address and email and 150+ other fields are stored. These fields I can export to a spreadsheet for making mailing labels and/or doing analysis.

TNT also stores more than 25 “partner-specific” calculated fields based on their giving as well as my activity with them (last call, last thank, last appointment, etc.). I will often export these fields to give me a snapshot of my support team.

Give this a try—lookup all of your financial partners, then export their giving snapshot:

  1. Lookup | TNT Phase | is PARTNER-Financial
  2. Select Group Actions | Export Current Group
  3. Press the “Uncheck All” button to clear out any saved export fields
  4. Select just “File As” from the top of the list (to get their name)
  5. Then scroll down and select some or all of the Giving Details fields (in the red frame, see picture below). These include several fields related to their most recent gift, as well as a snapshot of their overall giving to your work.
  6. Click OK, then export the list to Excel. You can then sort it by any of the fields you chose.

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It is this sort of “power analytics” that really sets TntConnect apart and makes it so useful for support raising.

Read More: Giving Details


Note: If your ministry does not link directly to TntConnect, you can quickly and easily enter gifts every week or month. Learn more here.

Entering Gifts Manually: It’s easy!

About 40% of all TntConnect users serve with an organization that does not have a way to send gifts to TntConnect via the web or via a file. Or, you may serve with an organization that formerly offered one-click gift input, but due to a technology change on their part, that link is no longer working.

It may surprise you to learn that TntConnect was invented before the Gift Input feature was created. That is, all users had to enter gifts manually in the very beginning!

Because of this, TntConnect makes it super easy to enter gifts manually.

One option, of course, is simply to right-click in the Gifts box and “Add a Gift”—which you would do any time you add a single gift from a donor. But that is time consuming if you are entering dozens of them every month.

If you cannot download gifts at all, then your best bet is to use the Manual Gift Entry Form from the Tools menu.

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This quick-entry form allows you to enter all of your gifts in just a few moments.

  • It displays every partner who has given a gift in the past 12 months.
  • You just enter the date and the amount.
  • You can lookup and add a New Partner to the form from your entire list of contacts.
  • You can press Another Gift if a partner has more than one gift in a month.
  • If you are working from a printed list or printed email (a little easier than toggling back and forth between TNT and your email or ministry web site), you can probably enter 25-50 donations in just a few minutes.
  • Also, if you receive gifts in more than one currency, you can enter all gifts from one currency at the same time. (If you do not have multi-currency turned on, the Currency box will not be shown.)
  • Whether you download gifts, import from a file, use the Manual Gift Entry Form or just add gifts individually using Add a Gift, TntConnect runs the same Automatic Actions for New Gifts features so you can take full advantage of TntConnect’s powerful analytics.

Read more about the Manual Gift Entry Form.