Prioritizing Your Partners


This blog post is an adapted version of a post this week by my friend Sus Schmitt who writes the blog eQuipping for eMinistry (e4e); she gave me permission to extract and apply her post to our TNT community. You can read her full post here.

Jesus taught by example that there are two different ways to relate to people:

  1. By investing in a core group of people. Jesus had a large circle of followers, a group of 70 He sent out, 12 disciples, and 3 in particular whom He really invested in. We know Jesus did not play favourites yet He invested in them to different degrees.
  2. The amount of the gift is not directly proportional to the value of the gift. The widow’s mite was greater in value than all of the wealthy donors’ gifts.

As we consider our partners, we have to grapple with these two seemingly conflicting concepts.

  1. We cannot invest equally in all of our partners all of the time. I cannot send the same thank you gift to all of my partners. Or I cannot financially justify a flight cost solely to visit a partner who only gives $10 per month.
  2. Yet I appreciate equally the partner who gives $10/month as much as the $200/month partner.

So when I talk about principles for prioritizing partners, recognize that I am not talking about the spiritual aspect but rather the practical aspect of effectively managing my time from a support raising perspective. It makes sense for me to invest proportionally more time in the partners who invest more proportionally to our support.

I first learned the principles of prioritizing partners by reading Scott Morton’s excellent book Funding Your Ministry. This goes hand-in-hand with the Annual Plan. (Read Sus’ previous blog post on this too: Seven Ideas for Planning Your Best Year Yet in MPD Communication.)

Sus divides her partners into three groups representing roughly 1/3 of the total giving. In a typical pyramid, the top 1/3 of giving comes from a much smaller number of partners than the middle and bottom thirds. Here is Sus’ example on reaching out to her three levels of partners. She labels her three groups simply as A (top-level), B, and C (bottom-level).

How to Use Your A & B Lists throughout the Year

Decide what you would like to do. Set up your preferred way to keep track of whether partners are A, B, or C, and set up your preferred way to remind yourself to do these tasks.

Try these ideas or something similar:

PHONING (We haven’t implemented this yet.)

  • All in the A list… phone annually (for us, two per month)
  • Plan to phone through the B list every two years (for us, two per month)
  • Work through the C list

GREETING CARDS (Read more ideas for sending holiday cards. I order in bulk from Current Catalog.)

  • All receive a greeting card with a personal note every year (e.g., an anniversary card)
    • Our B list receives an additional greeting card annually (e.g., an anniversary card and Easter Card)
    • Our A list receives 2 more greeting cards annually (e.g., an anniversary, Easter, and Thanksgiving card)
  • All receive a Dayspring birthday greeting on Facebook when Facebook alerts me (see point 3 in Seven Ideas for Planning Your Best Year Yet in MPD Communication).
  • All receive a Christmas card

In her blog, Sus explains this using another support raising software that does not have TntConnect’s built-in Pyramid Builder (called Campaign Builder).

I can easily divide my partners into three equal groups, equal in the sense of 1/3 of total giving. In the example below, our missionary has about $82,000 in annual giving from 110 donors.


Assuming this was my partner list (it is not), this would show me that the top third of giving to our ministry comes from 11 partners, who gave at least $1,950 in one of the last three years. My next 20 partners gave the second third, and 79 are the final third. I cannot fulfill my ministry without all three groups, but I also cannot invest equal time in all 110.


Putting this plan into action in TntConnect

My three levels constantly change throughout the year (because giving patterns change). But I want to “freeze” my plan to my partners today. So I can convert today’s displayed pyramid to Saved Groups.

I start by pressing the Build Campaign button in the Campaign Builder. This starts a campaign that I will name 2018 Action Plan.



Turns my Campaign into Saved Groups:


Now I am able to work on my plan of action for each level.



Continue reading


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.)

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:


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.


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.