Purdue Profiles: Marcus Knotts

Feburary 18, 2014  


Marcus Knotts

Marcus Knotts, senior director of planned giving in the University Development Office. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)
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Marcus Knotts' professional journey has led him down a long, winding path to a job he loves -- helping Purdue's donors carve out their legacies.

Knotts is the University Development Office's senior director of planned giving. Although he has been a litigator and once operated his own law practice, three years ago Knotts returned to work at Purdue, his alma mater, because he loves helping people with their charitable endeavors.

What are your duties as director of planned giving?

I work with donors -- including current faculty and staff, alumni and friends of Purdue -- who are interested in giving complex or far-reaching gifts to the University.

Essentially, I help with the planning, paperwork and other details involved in gifts that are more complicated than that of a one-time cash gift. For example, I help set up estate gifts, help donors make gifts through their retirement accounts, or work with donors to establish a trust in which the University is the sole or a partial beneficiary.

My office also helps facilitate the giving of nontraditional gifts to the University, which can be complicated from a legal or tax standpoint.

For example, sometimes donors wish to give real estate to Purdue. Other times, they're interested in donating another asset, and the donation takes careful planning to accomplish -- one donor recently gave Purdue an airplane, for instance. My office also assists in donations that involve naming opportunities for buildings, labs and other places on campus.

Who usually gives planned gifts to Purdue?

Our office helps process hundreds of planned gifts each year, and they really do come from everywhere: alumni, faculty and staff, and family members of folks who have a special place in their hearts for Purdue and higher education.

Planned gifts are driven by those who want to leave something beneficial to Purdue's students or faculty, and they're always very personal. Our donors have a legacy in mind when they give planned gifts. Our goal is to help them realize that legacy. We want to help them benefit Purdue and leave their mark on the University, and we want to help them realize their visions.

There's no minimum donation tied to planned gifts. As long as we're helping our donors realize their goals, we're happy.

What is your professional background?

I graduated from Purdue in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in English. I ended up working in the development office after graduation because I had worked there part-time while attending Purdue and found a niche I enjoyed. While I was a full-time employee here, I also kept attending classes and eventually earned bachelor's degrees in creative writing and psychology.

After a while, I decided to pursue law school in Indianapolis, and I eventually ending up practicing litigation for a private law firm in Logansport. Eventually, I struck out on my own and opened my own practice, but I found that I didn't truly enjoy that work. I wanted to return to non-profit work, so I jumped back into the field for a brief stint at Butler University before returning to Purdue.

What are some things you love about development work?

Development work is deeply rewarding for me because I get to be part of so many incredible stories. Whether they're giving $25 or $25 million, our donors always have their own reasons for giving. They always have personal stories about the journeys their lives have taken and how Purdue has played a part in their success.

Another reason I love working at Purdue is the people who are and have been involved in the University. Over the years, Purdue has changed a lot -- but the core values of the people who come here are still the same, no matter if they graduated last year or 50 years ago.

I truly believe that it's important to dabble in charitable giving whether you're volunteering your time or treasure. Charitable giving impacts the world -- starting with the donor, and every donor I know feels the humbling power of their donations. Helping others through charitable giving is truly one of the easiest gifts you can give yourself. We love making those gifts a reality.

Writer: Amanda Hamon, 49-61325, ahamon@purdue.edu

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