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.



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New Year’s Resolutions, Part II

Last week I shared about “New Year’s Resolutions” and how often these are idealistic and activity-based. For example, typical Resolutions include eating better or exercising. And it feels more achievable if we say, “I am going to go the gym three times a week.”

Of course we know that most New Year’s Resolutions last a week or less, so I have a couple of extra thoughts about how to make your “Support Raising Resolutions” stick.

The core to a successful Support Raising Resolution is the Annual Plan. Looking at a whole year really helps bring perspective.

First: Before making plans for the year, it is helpful to know where you are at. In support raising, this may include the following:

  • Knowing your realistic support goal (hopefully, based on your personal budget or ministry’s standards)
  • Knowing your solid monthly support
  • Therefore: Knowing how much you need to raise

Then: Make realistic plans for

  • Communications
  • Thanking your partners
  • Raising new support

The way TntConnect helps you in this process is primarily in helping you know what is true of your support. If you have assigned a Pledge Amount and Frequency to each partner, then the Analysis View will tell you your solid monthly support.


If you have 45 partners and are at 90% of your support goal, then on average, each partner is 2% of your team. So theoretically, you need about 5 partners to bring you to 100%. (I do not mean to be simplistic, but sometimes simple goals are more attainable than really complex ones.)

New Year’s Resolutions, Part I

Every year after Christmas we start hearing about “New Year’s Resolutions”. And then, of course, anyone who hears about it mentions how those are often broken within days, if not hours. How come we cannot try to do good things without everyone telling us why we will fail? Hmmm.

While regular New Year’s Resolutions are typically focused on either better eating or exercise, with support raising we can also do similar New Year’s Resolutions:

  • “This year I am going to write thank yous sooner.”
  • “I’m going to call all of my partners personally, just by calling 2 every week.” etc. etc.

Like my other resolutions, grand (and vague) wishes like that usually last a few hours. But one thing we can do that is potentially more practical (and achievable) is come up with an Annual Plan that guides our support raising efforts throughout the year. The best way [my opinion] to do this is to coe up with a written plan with real activities and real deadlines.

For example, instead of the “write 2 thank yous per week” resolution, what if you actually printed a check list with each partner’s name and a date to send the thank you? Then you can get the satisfaction of checking off the list.

There are dozens of things you could do to start off your next year well from an MPD perspective. But as you consider this, let me give one piece of advice: People first. Your partners are what keep you in the mission field. So choose activities that will tangibly connect you with your partners.

In the upcoming New Year’s Resolutions entries, I’ll give a few simple and practical tips for starting off the new year.