Psst… (I use Index Cards)


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 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.)



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.)


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).


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


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”. 🙂