Psst… (I use Index Cards)

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Beautiful Llivia. Question: Which country is Llivia in?

NEWS FLASH: Index cards are the most efficient and effective support raising tool available.

I’m kidding, of course. But a statement like that does get attention. Sounds odd, of course, coming from the guy who writes the http://www.TNT.tips blog. I secretly feel like the guy who works for Coca-Cola but doesn’t drink soda. Well, it is not quite like that. Everyone who works for Coke also drinks water, right?

I use TntConnect for my support “almost all of the time”. Yet I do use index cards and consider them an integral part of my support efforts.

When I coach missionaries in raising support, I often tell them that I believe the statement I made above: That index cards are the most efficient and effective tool available.

Why do I say that to them? Do I really want them to eschew TntConnect? Not at all.

Partly I do it just to shock them: Our generation has been lulled into the belief that if you cannot do it electronically, you cannot do it at all (or, at minimum, it is archaic and cumbersome).

But using index cards—instead of software—can help people (okay, me) be more focused. While using my computer during support raising, I cannot tell you how much I have learned about remote islands when I should have been making support-raising phone calls. Did you know that Devon Island is the largest uninhabited island on Earth? Or that Llivia is a Spanish city located entirely within France? (That is, it is an exclave of Spain.)

Two days ago I published a blog post about the Partner Tracking Form. Right after that I created and printed 4×6 index cards (Partner Tracking 4×6) for every donor who has given a gift in the past year. It is my plan over the next 2-3 weeks just to call them.

Using index cards will enable me to do that easily without turning on my computer. This not only will help me avoid distractions (especially email), but will also be faster since I can boot up my index cards even faster than my computer.

Here’s my simple card, with plenty of room to write prayer requests or any note I glean if I happen to reach a real person when I call. I can update TntConnect later.

It is also easier for me to pray for my partners because I can sit in a comfortable chair and just flip through the cards. If I have my computer open… there’s no telling where I’ll end up.

Interested in my 4×6 Index Card? You can download it here and use it with TntConnect’s mail merge. (4×6 is a US measurement; you can adjust it for your “large” index card in your country, if you’re interested.)

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Go Bigger with F7/F12

Here’s a quick tip for you, which can be particularly helpful when calling new contacts: You can enlarge the Name & Address by pressing F7 or F12. (Both keys work the same, and that’s due to historic differences between Macs & PCs.)

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This will pop up an address box on top of the Contacts View, but without interfering with it. You can still navigate between tabs (e.g., TNT tab, History).

I find this particularly helpful when calling new contacts because I may not be familiar with their names and this makes it very bold so I do not stumble at the moment I start talking to them.

There are a few other keystrokes you may find helpful:

  • F1 opens the integrated help (either in a web browser or on your computer, depending on your settings).
  • F2 toggles the Views bar (far left) on or off.
  • F3 toggles the contact list (Current Lookup & Current Group). These two (F2 & F3) are used primarily in a situation where your display is tight, which was much more common 15 years ago!
  • F5 refreshes your list (sometimes a list of contacts or actions has been changed; in 15 years I have never pressed this button…)
  • F8 displays the System Info which can be helpful when submitting an entry to the online forum.
  • Ctrl+R opens the Add Referrals box (or… Contact | Add Referrals).

All shortcuts in TntConnect

From Here to There and Back Again

It almost seems pointless to even mention the Maps features of TntConnect, because they are so obvious. Yet after 15 years of teaching people to use TNT, I have found that some of the things I do everyday without even thinking are a revolutionary epiphany to someone else. One of my mantras in teaching people about software is, “Even the simplest feature is an Aha! moment if you’ve never seen it before.”

So, real quick, here’s a reminder of the variety of features TNT offers related to maps:

  • You can launch Google Maps for the contact you are looking at. This opens a browser window to get to Google Maps, which is handy if you also want to create a travel map, from your location, etc. (unlike the Maps View, below, which plots contacts on a map).

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  • The Maps View opens a Google Maps view inside your TntConnect software.

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This view allows to change the map display in several ways:

  1. Show only the selected contact (“Individual” link at the top)
  2. Show the entire Current Group (as shown in the image above)
  3. Replace the Google pins with the colored Status Dot for each partner’s TNT status (e.g., Green for current, Purple for recent gift, etc.)
  4. Newsletter icon for each contact
  5. A teeny, tiny, thumbnail of the picture you have for the contact

Of course the best use for the Maps View is being able to display the contacts clustered on the map. The first time I used this feature (when it was released several years ago), I made the current group only my “newsletter recipients in X city” (it doesn’t do much good to have a map of the entire country). I have about 40 newsletter folks in my home city (roughly 25% of all newsletter people), and it was a delight to see them pop up. What was even more amazing was how many of them lived close together… since I had been building the list for several years from different channels, different referrals, etc.

One time I discovered I had two contacts completely unrelated to each other (different churches, different history with me), and they lived three houses apart.

Technical note: The first time you use the Google Maps feature, TNT tries to pinpoint the exact street location for each contact. There are some it cannot (for example, P.O. Boxes, or if you have an error in the address), but for those it can, TNT will then post the GPS coordinates in their hidden data log, so that future maps will be substantially faster.

It is possible that one reason I love this feature so much is because “Rand McNally is my middle name”. 🙂

 

Happy Birthday!

One of the clever, yet subtle, things that TntConnect does is how it handles birthdays for your contacts.

In my experience—and I am obviously not unusual in this since TNT is designed this way—it is unusual to get the actual (full) birth date or anniversary date for my contacts. For most, I have only partial information. For example, I was visiting a partner who told me his wife’s 40th birthday was the previous month. So, assuming he remembered correctly (e.g., it was not two months ago), I knew she was born in April 1970. I may find out the actual date later (such as April 7).

Most often I have the month and day but not the year. In fact, I have asked new partners for this: “When is your birthday?”, and they will typically only give the month and day. Indeed, for some people it can be rude to ask the year they were born!

And sometimes I have only one item. I may know they were born in 1976, but not the month or the day.

TntConnect allows me to enter any of the three items independently, for either the primary contact or the spouse:

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I can then run the Birthday & Anniversary Report to see all contacts with birthdays and anniversaries. This report is exportable to Excel. Also, I can export any/all contact’s birthday and anniversary information using the Group Actions | Export Current Group tool.

Because TNT is not designed to store comprehensive information about children, I just put their birthdays in the Children field on the Family tab. This doesn’t show up on the Birthday & Anniversary report, but it is still helpful to me:

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And if today is your birthday… Happy Birthday!

 

He giveth and taketh away

One of the most well-known, and truly unique features, of TntConnect is the “universal filter”, the Lookup tool that allows you to add or remove any criteria from any Lookup. Most web-based tools (like shopping sites) allow you to narrow down the list, but very few allow you narrow down and add to, or “reverse” the lookup, or even combine disparate items.

TntConnect 3.2 adds some similar functionality to a little-known feature called Mass Change a Field.

TNT’s ability to change the value of a single field for all selected contacts has always been super-helpful to me. For example, I was adding the Church Name to about 20 contacts one time. I could do that for each contact individually… or I could make the Current Group those 20 contacts, then select Group Actions | Mass Change a Field and do it all at once.

Group Field Change in earlier versions of TNT: Deleted the old field value and replaced it with the new value:

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Now in 3.2 the options are expanded:

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You can now (still) simply “replace” the old field value with the new one (that is, “Change Field”).

But you can also Add to Comma Separated List, which will take the value you have and place it after a comma in addition to any other items that are in the field. Or, Remove from Comma Separated List, which will delete the chosen value if it exists in that field.

Many people use the User Fields to make TNT unique and personal. For example, if I was in athletic ministry and I renamed User 1 to be “Favourite Sports Team”. Some people may have one team: “Montreal Canadiens”. But others might have two “Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Blue Jays” or more.

The beauty of TntConnect’s amazingly powerful lookups/filters (as mentioned at the top) is that I can do Lookups within a field. Let’s say, for example, that I want to find all contacts for whom “Montreal” is in Favourite Sports Team (whether it is the Canadiens, the Expos, the Alouettes, etc.), I can just do a lookup for that:

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To wrap up, the powerful Lookups, the versatile User Fields, and the nifty Mass Change a Field all work together to make managing a lot of information very helpful. Indeed, it is so exciting it is almost like sitting in a hockey arena watching the Stanley Cup. 😉

Google Maps & TntConnect. Wow.

Cannot help but love the integration between TntConnect & Google Maps! So much so, in fact, that for two years I used the Google Maps view as the background for a TNT page I was managing:

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Map View button

The Map View displays an integrated Google Chrome browser (which works even if you do not use Chrome on your system). This flexible feature allows you to change display to show five different views, based on the contacts you currently have up in the Contacts View.

Most of these are based on the Current Group of selected contacts. But not all contacts will appear in each option as the display is based on if they fit the display criteria (for example, whether they get your newsletter or not).

  • The currently selected Individual

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  • All contacts in the Current Group

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  • The Status Dot of all the Current Group

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  • The Newsletter preference (if they have one)

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  • Any Pictures in the Current Group

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In addition to the Map View, TntConnect also has the original Google Maps Button on the Contact View that will locate the selected contact in Google Maps in your internet browser. This can be helpful if you want to map directions to the partner’s house:

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The first time you view contacts in the Map View, it will take some time as the map attempts to locate the addresses. Once it finds them, TNT actually stores the GPS coordinates in that contact’s hidden info area, so the next time you look up the map it will be instantaneous. As always, some addresses cannot be found (e.g., P.O. boxes or an otherwise unmappable address), so TNT will simply label them in the map as “Approximate” based on information it can find (such as a city or postal code but not the exact address).

F1 Help on the Map View and Google Maps features.

Be a “Pro” with TntConnect Pro

There are a lot of free software tools where they entice you with the Free or “Basic” version, but make you pay for the “Pro” version–the version that has the ‘really useful’ features.

TntConnect delivers about 99.9% of its features in the free “Basic” version, and delivers the other 0.1% in the free “Pro” version. Can’t beat that price, eh?

What’s the difference? Simply, TntConnect Pro exposes a few features for those who manage multiple designations in one database. Since most users only manage one designation (their own missionary account #), there is no need to have the multi-designation features turned on.

If you manage multiple designations in one TntConnect database, go to Tools | Options and check the box, “Display extended information (TntConnect Pro)”.

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When you do this, without restarting you will see designation options/display in 3 key areas.

Gift List

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Lookup | By Giving

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Notice that Pro also displays the “Motivation Code”. This is used by some organizations who assign codes related to fund appeals.

Tools | Contribution Report

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Read more about TntConnect Pro