Laura Bush

Reflections of a Nonprofit Heart

                                                                                                                                        Illustration by Jocelyn Ruiz

posted by
Laura L. Bush, Ph.D.,
Former Manager of Curriculum
Design & Innovation,
ASU Lodestar Center

CEO/Founder,
Peacock Proud Press

In junior high, I once jumped off a table Wonder Woman-style (but without bullet-proof bracelets) to defend another child from being teased. I don’t remember why I was perched on a table in art class, but I do remember the drama of leaping between this bully and his victim. Without hesitating, I knew I had the power to stop the harassment. And I did. At that moment, my nonprofit heart was born.

Although this defining incident taught me I could make a difference, I can remember always being concerned with whatever seemed unfair, inequitable, or just plain stupid: “Why do people litter? Why would people say ugly things because of the color of someone’s skin? Why are some people so rich and other people so poor? And why doesn’t my family ever go on vacation?”

“Life’s not fair,” my mother would say.

“Well, then,” I’d think, “somebody needs to get busy and make it fair!”

At some point, I decided I’d have to fix unfair stuff myself, since too many people didn’t seem to care as much as I did about world problems. At times, I’d get so mad about poverty, racism, sexism, or religious bigotry that I’d feel like punching someone. Since I was raised to be a “good girl,” punching people for prejudice didn’t follow. And as a teenager who volunteered for Special Olympics and adopted the beagle next door when his owner abandoned him, I suspected the part of me that shook my fist — or wagged my finger — at all things stupid and unfair made me no better than anyone else. Until graduate school, I didn’t have a name for “mimetic violence” (imitating what you claim to hate), but I did get the insanity (i.e. hypocrisy) of hitting people to stop the act of hitting. It just took me awhile to actually learn that lesson.

Crafting a Successful Third Generation Nonprofit-Business Relationship

posted by
Laura L. Bush, Ph.D.,
Manager of Curriculum
Design & Innovation,
ASU Lodestar Center

Working as a nonprofit professional in the current economic environment can be challenging — and sometimes discouraging. Savvy nonprofits will fulfill their organization's mission by diversifying their income stream. One way they do this is by building mutually beneficial relationships with businesses that are also interested in positively impacting local communities. Such a relationship can be very profitable, both in terms of financial support and social gain. But in crafting successful nonprofit-business relationships, many nonprofit professionals find themselves in murky waters.

So, how can a nonprofit organization best go about building and sustaining those relationships? Moreover, what type of relationships and outcomes do businesses really want from partnering with nonprofit organizations?

Recently, I interviewed the facilitators of "Third Generation: Nonprofit | Business | Relationships | Evolved," a special three-hour workshop hosted by the National Bank of Arizona and organized by the ASU Lodestar Center. These experienced business and nonprofit professionals are committed to evolving the way nonprofit and for-profit organizations work together for good, and they were happy to give me a taste of what to expect from the workshop. Here's a bit of what they had to say:

Research Friday: What It Takes to Lead and Manage a Nonprofit Organization

posted by
Laura L. Bush, Ph.D.,
Manager of Curriculum
Design & Innovation,

ASU Lodestar Center
and
Lili Wang, Ph.D.,
Assistant Professor,
ASU School of Community
Resources & Development

Welcome to Research Friday! As part of a continuing weekly series, each Friday we invite a nonprofit expert from our academic faculty to highlight a research report or study and discuss how it can inform and improve day-to-day nonprofit practice. We welcome your comments and feedback.

A 2008 study shows that the nonprofit sector employs approximately 13 million people in the United States.[1] In the past few decades, the nonprofit workforce has become increasingly professionalized. In response to the growing needs of professional nonprofit managers, numerous university-based nonprofit management education programs have emerged, but few offer continuing education for nonprofit professionals. The ASU Nonprofit Management Institute (NMI) is one of only 56 continuing education professional development programs in the nation.[2]

To better understand the skills and knowledge needed by nonprofit professionals, we conducted a needs-assessment study based on surveys of NMI instructors, advisory board members, alumni, and participants in NMI courses since 2007. The study reveals that current leaders in the local nonprofit sector believe the skills most needed in the nonprofit workforce are financial literacy, communication (verbal and writing skills), knowledge of laws pertaining to the nonprofit sector, information technology, volunteer management, and donor cultivation. NMI students agree; however, they additionally rank high their interest in learning about strategic planning, board governance, grant writing, marketing, program evaluation, and social entrepreneurship.