A League of His Own


I felt like a chump after reading an article in The Wall Street Journal last night, realizing that I am “in a whole other league” compared to this guy. Here are the opening paragraphs (Emphasis mine; I cannot link to the article as it requires a subscription login):

POCANTICO HILLS, N. Y.—Some might say David Rockefeller, a scion of America’s greatest fortune and the veteran chief executive of Chase Manhattan Bank, was a dedicated networker long before the age of Facebook.

That would grossly understate his horizons. Mr. Rockefeller recorded contact information along with every meeting he had with about 100,000 people world-wide on white 3-by-5-inch index cards. He amassed about 200,000 of the cards, which filled a custom-built Rolodex machine. He kept the 5-foot high electronic device at his family’s suite of offices in New York City’s Rockefeller Center for about half a century.

In the annals of CEO history, the breadth and depth of this record of contacts stand out,’’ said Nancy Koehn, a Harvard business professor and historian.  “This is a man with a large, long reach.’’

Sample card, for Richard Nixon:


David Rockefeller was the grandson of John D. Rockefeller, but famous in his own right, having served as a primary shareholder and chairman of the board of Chase Manhattan, largest bank in America at the time.

The article explains Mr. Rockefeller’s meticulous record-keeping on the top-secret cards–a vault so secret it was only revealed when he died this year at age 101. His will stipulates the cards may not be fully released for at least 10 more years.

Many of the entries were typed on the cards, with some notations made by hand. Information that was out of date was crossed out.

Most of the seven cards shown in the article (Trump, Reagan, Nixon, Eisenhower, Sadat, Mandela, Gates) have multiple appointments listed. Here are some of items I noticed on some or all of the cards:

  • Name
  • Spouse’s Name
  • Greeting format (“Mr. President”, “Dick”, “Bill and Melinda”)
  • All relevant addresses and phone numbers; many of the phone numbers and postal codes are the pre-1970 formats!
  • Short notes on face-to-face appointments (date, location, context)
  • Public information not from a personal appt (e.g., election to presidency; cite newspaper article about a life change)


Here’s one comment about a visit with Nelson Mandela:

7/5/93-DR hosted dinner honoring above, Rainbow Pavillion. Gave DR beaded belt. M/M J. Wayne Fredericks helped him pick it out. DRs putting it in a glass frame.

If David Rockefeller had 100,000 people covering 200,000 cards, it is safe to say that the number of data entries must have numbered in the millions. Admittedly, he probably had a personal secretary updating these cards, a luxury I have not had!

I am staggered, yet envious, of this kind of detail. Many times since I started using TNT I have wished that I had kept the records of every support-raising contact and appointment I had. Sadly, like many missionaries I “threw away the card box” [metaphorically; mine was electronic] once I reported to my assignment. Initially I contacted more than 1,000 people on my road to full support, but the vast majority did not make it into TNT because the Excel files were discarded years before TNT came along… remember back when file storage was limited to little plastic disks that held little? “Why would I want to keep this?” I probably asked myself in 1990s.

But I do take heart that since TNT came into my life I have in a very poor emulation done the same thing, and why TNT is also “in a league of its own” in terms of software. My two TntConnect databases have in them 3321 names and (not including data changes) more than 51,000 rows in the history log. And that only represents my last 15 years—less than half of the 31 years I have been raising support for my organization. The very fact I was able to come up with those two numbers (3321 contacts + 51000 history items) in about one minute is evidence of the data-managing power of TNT.

When I joined my organization full-time I was actually trained using an Index Card system quite similar to Mr. Rockefeller’s. Maybe to my detriment, upon returning home I immediately switched to “my own homemade system” (that is, a simple spreadsheet). Yet I know several people today who still maintain their entire partner list on index cards. What a treasure!


History: The Jet Engine of TntConnect


Every afternoon about dinnertime three 747s fly over my house as they make their final approach to our airport. My sons and I can feel the plane coming, even before we hear it. We never get tired of looking at them.

Boeing was designing this plane at the same time the Concorde was being developed, so it was a huge gamble (many thought a company-destroyer). The common thinking at the time was that “all passenger planes will soon be supersonic” and that this monster ‘traditional jet’ would be obsolete before it even rolled off the assembly line.

Because of this concern of obsolescence, they designed it to be particularly useful for cargo—which is why there is a cabin on top (this leaves the entire main fuselage available for cargo). Of course mass supersonic travel never happened and the 747 proved to be a phenomenal success, completely changing the way global air traffic was handled. Passenger and cargo traffic exploded far more than anyone expected. For almost four decades, the 747 held the passenger capacity record, the distance flying record, the cargo capacity record, and the speed record for all passenger jets.

Boeing ended up selling more than four times their wildest expectations, and the plane is still in production today, almost 50 years later.

For years I have asserted that “The Log History feature is the jet engine of TNT.” If we compare the above photo with the one below, the differences are obvious.


Both planes are valuable and useful, and both fulfill the same core purpose—getting someone from Point A to Point B. But if your Point B is any great distance, or you need to carry a lot of stuff, you’ll probably prefer a jet.

But which jet? The 747, a fighter jet, or a business jet?


For me, when I say that “History is the jet engine of TNT,” I have a fighter jet in mind because of its incredible speed and agility.


But I also think of the 747. Support-raising is a long-haul, and I want a tool that will do it … easily, comfortably, with excellence. My TNT history contains tons of cargo—tens of thousands of history entries—and TNT carries that cargo with the strength of a 747 but the agility of a fighter jet. So when I talk about the Jet Engine of TNT, I really mean that TNT embodies the best of all four planes…

  • It can be a Piper Cub for someone who just wants a little hopper to manage their newsletter list.
  • It can be a business jet for someone who wants fast and nimble.
  • It can be a fighter jet for someone who wants sheer power and responsiveness… to attack their support raising efforts.
  • It actually is the world’s biggest, baddest, bestest “jumbo jet” support-raising software with incredible cargo-carrying abilities, phenomenal performance, and sheer good looks.

Many TNT users do not even realize how much power is at their fingertips. They want to “Fly from Montreal to Auckland,” thinking they have a Piper Cub at their disposal when they really are piloting the 747.

In addition to being able to record thank yous, phone calls, and appointments, some of the long-haul ways I use History includes:

Now that you know what a powerful tool TntConnect is, I hope http://www.TNT.tips can be a pilot-training course to help you be the best pilot you can be.

Um, 8 months ago you…

Let’s be honest for a moment. Many missionaries find it difficult to follow-up with their partners after the partner does something. Case in point: Last month one of our partners gave the largest gift we have ever received. When did I thank them? Four weeks later. Ugh. How does that happen?

In my case, I was out of the country when the gift came. I came home to a hurricane-ravaged yard that took countless hours–every free hour I was home it felt like–to clean up (the FEMA debris haulers just came today to wrap it up, and used four semi trucks to haul our debris alone). Pretty soon four weeks had gone by.

How did I resolve this? I just called them. I left a message on their voice mail, so I sent a paper thank you card the same day.

It’s not my practice to be so behind in actions. But there is one action I dread more than any other action: Calling a partner who has missed a gift.

Here’s a quote from the TNT online help regarding “Calling Late Donors”:

Many missionaries are reluctant to contact a donor who is behind on their giving. They are afraid of appearing pushy or aggressive. Many just hope the donor will resume giving with no contact at all. The reality is that many donors who are behind on their giving may be unaware that they are behind, and a quick, friendly phone call can help them remember. And if there is a reason why they cannot give, your phone call can give them an opportunity to share that reason, rather than leaving you wondering.

When calling a donor who is behind on their pledge, make sure that your focus is on them. In the conversation, they may initiate with you regarding their giving, but if they do not, you should do so only after finding out how they are doing. Then mention how you were reviewing your giving reports and noticed that their normal gift had not arrived. Mention that perhaps there was an error recording the gift. Then let them respond. If they need assistance, for example, if they need an envelope or giving slip, then promise to get it to them right away.

Whenever you import gifts into TntConnect, it runs a check not only on all the gifts that came in, but also on partners who should have given (based on their giving trends). If a partner appears behind, you get a task suggesting you contact the donor. This same information is displayed in the Pledge Fulfillment Report.


Read More about the Pledge Fulfillment Report