Two for one post on Saved Groups!

This blog post is a Bonus post because I am hoping to provide two benefits from one blog post:

  1. Teach you about a really helpful but somewhat obscure TNT feature
  2. Show you how to do a commonly-asked question

First, the question (from my reader survey in December): How do I compare the membership in two Saved Groups?

This question has two answers; I’ll share the simple answer first. The complex answer further down introduces what may be a new feature for you.

For the purpose of this post, I am using an example from a major fundraising event our ToonTown Ministry holds each year. Every spring we host an annual donut baking gala event with some of the country’s best donut bakery chefs; our current and potential donors love to toss the flour around with these well-known celebrities. It’s a huge hit, trust me. While we log each partner’s attendance in the history, for my own sake as an operations person I also keep everyone in a Saved Group for each year we’ve held the event:


Compare using the Groups View itself (simple)

  1. Select a group (such as 2018)
  2. Compare To a Saved Group. Note: “Compare to” is the centre column even though it is not labeled as such. 

The members of that group appear on the right. Gray italic means the contact is in both groups. So there are four partners who attended last year but are not coming this year:


Now the more powerful and more complex way (new feature alert!):

Export Group Membership as a Contact Field

TntConnect 3.2 introduced the wonderful ability to make any Saved Group also be an exportable contact field in the Group Actions | Export Current Group list.

Note: Making a group into an exportable contact field can only be done when the new group is created. An existing saved group cannot be made into a contact field.

Here is adding a New Group:


TNT alerts me that a saved group is a Contact Field by highlighting the saved group in the list.

Now I can go to my Contacts View and export whatever I want, but for the sake of ease I’ll just export Everyone:


Then in Excel I can see all of the exported contacts AND whether they attended the 2017 and 2018 donut gala event:


As you can see, among others, Dopey Dwarf attended 2017 but not 2018, while the Lions were the reverse. And some contacts attended neither.

This is super helpful for so many ways. For example, I can easily use Excel’s Count feature to get numbers that attended each year. Or I can use Mail Merge to export names or attendance.

Now, lest you think this is just some hypothetical example, I assure you it’s not. Although the question came from a reader response to my survey, this is actually something I do myself regularly.

My team does in fact host a major donor fundraising event every year, and I am frequently asked about how many people attend, how many have attended more than one, etc. Every year for the past five years I have logged in TntConnect who has attended, either as a Guest (Partner or Potential Partner), a Speaker, or a Staff Member (working the event).

The groups are exclusive within each year—a speaker cannot also be a registered guest (although speakers and staff members are often donors at the event as well, they are not the target audience).

In the screenshot below you can see all of my saved groups for the past six years. Only the Guest groups are exportable contact fields


Finally, again let me reiterate that every person attending the event also has their attendance logged in the history. That history entry is an important part of their individual relationship to our fund development team. The saved groups are for my management of the lists.

Blog post 1152, originally posted 2018-08-06.

Ask No Ask

  • “There’s an exception to every rule.”
  • “In a multiple choice test, ‘always’ or ‘never’ are absolutes and are rarely the correct answer.”
  • “We should always challenge everyone on our partnership team when doing a Special Ask Appeal.”

In my early years in ministry I used to spend a lot more time fretting about who to ask (for special gifts), what to ask for, how to word the ask, and when to ask. After reading excellent support raising books like Funding Your Ministry (Scott Morton) and The God Ask (Steve Shadrach), and The 7 Deadly Diseases of Ministry Marketing (Brendel), my view on asking for support broadened.

And an ancillary benefit of that expansion is that creating fund appeals is a lot faster than it used to be… because I am not wasting as much time culling my list for just the correct set of people to ask in any given letter, or spending literally days crafting the letter as if that was the magic bullet.

As a general rule, I do this with special gift appeals: “Ask everyone except those I do not ask.”

I have a special Saved Group titled, “Ask Exclude”. In this Group I have a small number of contacts (under 10 currently) whom I never send an ask to. This list includes three types of contacts:

  • Organizational/church contacts for whom a special ask may seem inappropriate. That is, these recipients want ministry updates, but I want to reserve special gift appeals to individuals within the organization or church, not the entity itself.
  • Relatives who may not be believers, or might have a narrow view of fund-raising. Or, to put it another way, these are people who may have reservations about fund-raising, or may have a negative view of churches or mission agencies who do fund appeals. If I send appeals to them, it may reinforce their negative views.
  • Contacts who have specifically indicated to me that they do not want to receive appeals.
  • Contacts who I am concerned that due to their age they may not interpret the ask correctly.

As I said, in my current list of Ask Exclude I have fewer than 10.

[ I also will typically exclude people who recently gave a special gift for some other reason or had a very recent change in their giving up or down. But that’s not the focus of this post. ]

When I am creating a new Campaign and want to generate the letter, I do the lookup for paper newsletter, then Lookup | By Group, and use “Take away from the current group” to remove the Ask Exclude group.


I am a firm believer in presenting our special needs to our partners (as you are aware from our recent vehicle ask). I send at least one special ask appeal every year, sometimes two.

I am not saying that every appeal I send is always “to my entire less minus the Ask Exclude”. Sometimes I do send a special appeal to a select group of partners. But I generally start with everyone, remove the Ask Exclude, then tweak the list from there.

My Puzzling Newsletter


Sliding Tile Puzzles like the above always drive me crazy. I don’t have the logic skills to manage them well. But I find myself using a lot of logic when I play with TntConnect’s astoundingly powerful Lookup tools. Sometimes I have made super-complex lookups by using a combination of adding and taking away until I get just the right result.

Last week I was preparing our annual family update, which is different from our monthly newsletter, and I had to do a bit of this Lookup puzzelry to make it work.

The monthly newsletter is easy because I can use the Newsletter Tools Helper to find my list of newsletters, then I merge and go.

But the annual family letter is more problematic because of some nuances. I have multiple groups I send it to:

  • Everyone who gets my paper newsletter
  • Relatives and friends who get only this letter but not the monthly letter
  • Neighbors and co-workers who get this letter but not mailed
  • People who get a PDF via email

I manage this complexity using a special set of Saved Groups specifically for the newsletter.

I start by looking up my regular newsletter list:


…returning this Current Lookup:


Then I Lookup | By Group to add the non-newsletter recipients (called “Christmas Letter” in this example):


I have two other exclusive saved groups related to this newsletter:

  1. “Local Delivery” because I am going to print but not mail them (I don’t want their envelopes mixed in with the mailed ones)
  2. “Email Christmas Letter” because they will not receive a printed copy.

In my own database I have six “newsletters” saved groups reflecting different ways people get the family update (Canada, email, paper, local delivery, expanded family version, and co-workers in the office).