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.



Continue reading


Launching into 2018

Greetings and welcome to 2018! I just returned from a fund development conference in Switzerland where I was working with local teams in using TntConnect to raise funds for local ministry projects. Over the past year I have only scratched the surface of Local Team tools within TNT (such as the Campaign Builder and the Promise Tracker). When I talk about those things, it is my goal to help people figure out how to use those features for their own personal support (because the features are great even for individual users).

For, I’m looking forward a great 2018. The feedback from my survey last month has been very helpful, and here are the summary results:

  • Future: 100% of respondents said “Please continue”. Of course this is encouraging, but since a blog subscriber is already on board, that makes sense. 🙂
  • Blog posts: The affirmation that the blog posts I have been choosing are helpful and meaningful. When I asked which posts were most helpful, every person gave a different answer.
  • Desired frequency: Once per week (by far the most popular choice).

Tell us more about… (What posts would you like in the future?) This is a summary of the comments:

  • Best practices for managing two data bases
  • Best way to sync your db to phone (Android) & how to sync only a select group.
  • Tips on managing Saved Groups
  • Managing work flow in TNT… lifting contacts to a higher level of commitment, running a campaign (not just financially but the steps involved).
  • Tips on searching (email addresses, other lookups)
  • Understanding differences between Campaigns (new) and Appeals (previously)
  • How to manage data in fields… using Notes field vs. other fields, etc.
  • More on maps
  • Occasional Mac specific that are unique to Mac.
  • MPDX [assorted]

I appreciate the input and will be addressing all of these in upcoming weeks. Except, well, there are some I cannot answer, so if it’s your question…

Mac-specific questions: I’m afraid I do not use a Mac so my experience with TNT on a Mac is extremely limited to the little I have helped people around me doing it. 😦

MPDX: MPDX is a different support-raising software than TNT, built by Cru. Both are free, and they approach support raising management in very different ways. The goal of a support raising software is to help missionaries build powerful ministry partner teams, and my opinion is that missionaries should use the best tool for their needs. Having said that, this blog is focused exclusively on TNT because MPDX has its own team of support professionals. If you have questions about MPDX, you can email me directly at or contact

Synchronizing with Android: TNT has a link to Outlook, but it is a bit technical and only a small percentage of TNT users use it. It is not a seamless Google integration (no support raising software that I am aware of has a seamless Google link). I generally do not discuss synchronizing with Outlook/Google because it is so technical that most users don’t want to jump through the hoops.

Thanks for the helpful input, and I hope this blog continues to help you build better relationships with your ministry partners.