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