Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gift Planning Officer secretly hopes more donors will die

Peter Snidely
Gift Planning Officer Peter Snidely works very hard to give Metro University's donors a chance to leave a legacy for the students of tomorrow in their Wills. He also sometimes wishes more of those donors that leave a gift for the University after they pass on would in fact die. And sometimes in the most gruesome ways.

"I feel like I'm really empowering donors. They want to leave behind the best part of themselves after they leave this world in order to help others. I help them achieve that by placing a bequest in their Will or by using their insurance policies in such a way that gives them real tax savings now," said Snidely. "I also dream that I kill them after we sign the paperwork."

Snidely has been in gift planning for more than seven years after leaving a career in the investment industry. Known for his warm and charming personality, Snidely has talked to more than 300 University donors about gift planning opportunities.

"I meet all types of people. Many are graduates from the 40s and 50s who are in their golden years. Their own children are grown and have children of their own. They're in the twilight of their lives and looking to find some meaning. Giving them a chance to help young people get a great education at Metro University really appeals to them," he said. "I sometimes feel these strange urges to smother them. It usually passes very quickly."

Snidely has won two awards from the University for his work. He received the University Medal for doubling the gift planning portfolio. Last year, he was voted the most popular development officer by a group of alumni.

"We all love Peter," said Mary Brandenburg, Class of '47. "He's so very friendly and kind. I just love talking to him. We chat about our families and how we want to be buried. He makes the most wonderful jokes about passing on. He's such a kidder!"

"Peter is like a son to me. We get along that well. I've never in my life met a person so intensely focussed on talking to me. Sometimes, when I turn around suddenly I see him staring at me with this strange, angelic look on his face. I know he's always thinking about me," said George Smith, Class of '52.

Snidely says in his job the most important thing is create a sense of rapport with the donor. He sometimes spends hours at donor's homes talking to them about their lives and their time at Metro University. "You have to be a good listener," said Snidely. "They have a whole lifetime worth of stories they want to tell and I think it's part of my job to listen to them. I also sometimes imagine how best they should die."

Director of Development Diane Yawl says she's lucky to have Snidely on her staff. "He has a special way about him. He takes his job very seriously. He's a great planner. He'll plan out the entire ask from the moment he calls a donor to the time they are expected to pass on, and he has this uncanny way of always being right. I've never seen it before."

"Sometimes it's hard to work with someone and get to know them only to have them pass away," said Snidely. "But in a sense, I'm keeping their memory alive and that's comforting to me, especially after one of those episodes when I'm filled with a murderous rage."