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:


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:


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.


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.


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.


Special Gift Appeal “ask amounts” based on average giving

If there’s one thing I’d like TntConnect to do, it would be to tell me the exact amount I should ask each contact for when doing an initial ask, an increase, or a special gift appeal. I even read a TntConnect help forum entry once where the user [humorously] asked, “Where is the ‘Automatically ask for increase’ button?!

Since those great features don’t exist in TntConnect yet, I am forced to use more rudimentary methods. I would never use mail merge to send a letter asking for an increase in regular support—that should be reserved for a face-to-face (or at least phone) appointment. But for a special gift appeal, I typically do suggest an amount, and I often vary that amount based on the partner’s average giving.

I want this suggested amount to be ‘relevant’ or ‘attainable’ for the contact. If I had a partner who gave $500/monthly (I don’t), I would not suggest a special gift of $25, nor would I ask a $25/monthly partner for a $500 gift. What I do, then, is export my “special gift appeal list” to Excel, and then set a range based on their regular giving. My range is fairly narrow… I suggest either “$50 or $100” or “$100 or $200”.

When I use Group Actions | Export Current Group to send my current group to Excel, I select their name, greeting, mailing address block, and average monthly giving fields. (The screen shot below has been modified to show only the fields I export; you will have to scroll through the list for them.)


Two final notes:

While writing this blog entry, I did an analysis of all of the special gifts we have received in the past 20 years. (I did this by pressing the “View Giving Trends” button in the Appeal box.) I discovered that $25, $50, and $100 are the most frequent gifts—accounting for half of all the special gifts ever given. THAT is really helpful information.


Since I have been in full-time ministry for 25 years, I find that the special gifts we receive are fairly consistent. With the exception of a few unique and significant appeals over the years (for a vehicle, first baby, significant overseas mission trip), our twice-annual special gift appeals generally result in very similar results.

So my goal is typically not to raise a significant amount of funds, but to give my partners an opportunity to give. My hope and trust is in the Lord, and I do not rely on special gifts to make up shortfalls in monthly support; that is, I am not “dependent” on the results of any special gift appeal to stay in ministry for the next season.

Read more on Special Gift Appeals

Our SmartPath short video (2:56) on Special Gift Appeals

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:


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.)

Organization Gift Details

About 70% of TntConnect users are able to download gifts directly from their organization’s web site, and this post is for you.

One of the hallmarks of TntConnect is being to completely trust the donation data—you need to be confident that what you see in TntConnect matches your organization’s donation data. (If you never quite trust TntConnect, you’ll always be asking, “Is this right? How can I be sure?”)

By double-clicking on any gift on the TNT tab, you can see the details for that gift—both the details you can edit and the ones that are downloaded with the gift.


Gift Details for a single gift in TntConnect. Displays the unique information from the ministry’s donation system.

The most important piece of gift information is the “Donation ID”, which is the unique gift number for that specific gift. Every time you download gifts, TntConnect matches each gift’s ID with every other Gift ID in your database; if there’s a match, it then checks to see if all of the details are the same. (Secret: This is how you can download the same gifts every day and not end up with duplicates!)

While you can edit the Appeal associated with the gift or write your own memo/note about it, there are several things the system sends that are “hard coded” with each gift:

  • Designation (your account number); if you are using TntConnect for fund-development (that is, managing multiple designations in one database), that Designation # is key.
  • Motivation Code. Most ministries do not use this code, but some larger ones do as it can identify what donor representative, event, or direct mail piece prompted the donor to respond.
  • Donor ID, which is how TntConnect knew to connect this gift with the selected contact.
  • Account Name. How this donor’s name appears in your ministry’s system (and which may vary from how you have it in TntConnect)
  • Gift Memo. Any note that your ministry received from the donor and wanted to pass on to you.
  • Payment Method. What method the donor used for this specific gift (such as cash, credit card, EFT or bank transfer, etc.).

The most recent gift information (date, amount, and payment method) is also stored on the contact’s View Details (click the little drop-down arrow next to the Individual button on the TNT tab):