Act your Age

Last week one of my partners alerted me he had just sent his last gift as he was retiring. Their first gift was 24 years ago when I first reported to my assignment. What a legacy! [They actually alerted me a year ago this day was coming, for which I was grateful too.]

I love that TNT enables me to see all of those gifts, their lifetime total, number of gifts, etc. What TNT does not do, however, is tell me the giving of all my partners by their age (or, rather, their age relative to my own age).

Many years ago I began testing a theory that “the average age of my financial partners is about 15 years older than I am”. This makes sense to me, because when I first went into mission work at age 24, most of my contemporaries did not have sufficient incomes to support me, and those just older were just getting started with homes and families. So it was the 40-50 age group that made up the bulk of my initial team. And since many of those are still giving, even as I have aged to 50 this year, my team has aged with me.

Over time the partners “around my age” (within 5 years of my age) have increased in number and in terms of proportional giving, such that they are currently my largest group (but not a majority) . However, even today, after 27 years in ministry, the #2 and #3 groups are the 20-30 and 15-20 years older than me groups. Combined, this age group provides 40% of our support. (This is a concerning issue for my next 15 years in ministry, but that is not the focus of this blog post!)

How do I track this in TNT since there is no feature for tracking age of my partners?

Simple: I use one of the User Fields. I renamed it Age by double-clicking on “User” name.


Then I put in the partners “relative age to me” as they will always be that age relative to me:


I use the first pair of numbers just to keep the list in order. Then the text is their age relative to me. Yes, I do still have 16 partners who are 30 years or more older than I am… still giving faithfully into their 80’s! Wow! Can I be one of those, Lord, who is cheerfully supporting missionaries in my 80’s?!

Then I can go to the Analysis View and select any of the charts, filtered by Age:


This shows me all of my active partners (“Average Monthly Gifts” only tracks those who have given over the past 2-3 years).


In one respect I find a chart like this simply “interesting”. But in another respect I find it “challenging”. It is challenging to me because I see that I really need to grow two of the furthest right columns: Those who are 5-10 years older than I am (currently in peak income years) and the “more than 5 years younger than I am” group, since I have only two partners in that category.

This is a great example of TNT really helping me be more effective at partnership development, and also a great example of me using TNT in a way it was not designed exactly to do.

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!” ~ Robert Browning



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