The Two Most Important Words for December

Last Saturday I had dinner with the president of a private equity firm. He’s a brilliant guy and I am lucky to call Terry a very close friend.

At one point I looked at him and said, “The work you do and the work I do are just about exactly the same.”

“You’re right. I’ve known that for a long time.”

Think about it for a second. The success of private equity firms is based on the depth of the relationships with their investors and the quality of the companies; that is, the investments they invite their clients to make.

When a private equity firm every so often wants to establish a new corpus of money to invest in companies, and reach out to individuals and families for that, they call it – fundraising.

Advancement and private equity are so alike it is scary.

Now I was getting warmed up. “You know, donors are looking for only two things from the nonprofits they support. They want to know the impact of their gift and they want to feel appreciated for it. Generally, organizations do a lousy job of the latter.”

“Let me tell you something,” Terry said. “When we bring our investors together to report on how we’re doing with their money, at the beginning of the meeting, the very first thing we do – is say Thank You.”

The most important thing in Terry’s work – and our work – is relationships. And the two most important words in any relationship?

Thank you.

These last days of the year, while our focus is on getting the gift, let’s remember the two words our donors most want to hear.