Faculty Spotlight: Ellie Heng Qu

November 15, 2016

Ellie Heng Qu

Dr. Ellie Heng Qu

Dr. Ellie Heng Qu joined the Bush School as an assistant professor in the Master of Public Service and Administration (MPSA) program in the fall of 2016. Qu holds a PhD in philanthropic studies from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, where she received a multidisciplinary education on philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, and voluntary action. Dr. Qu brings a unique background to the Bush School’s nonprofit management program.

Dr. Qu’s primary research interests are nonprofit finance and economics, the areas that have practical implications for capacity building and resource development of nonprofit organizations. More specifically, at the organizational level, she studies how nonprofit organizations can best manage their revenue streams.

“Nonprofit organizations receive revenue from various sources, such as private donations, program service revenue, government funding, investment income, and so on,” Qu said. “Given the available revenue streams, how should a nonprofit manager choose an optimal revenue combination so as to provide an expected level of charitable goods/services while minimizing the financial risk?”

At the individual level, Dr. Qu studies people’s motivations for charitable giving using laboratory experiments. In particular, she examines how individuals’ charitable giving behavior may be influenced by the interactions between their motivations and decision-making contexts. In addition, Dr. Qu is working on two other projects, including nonprofit financial reporting and accountability and the effects of pro-social behavior on people’s wellbeing.

Dr. Qu enjoys teaching because it allows her to share with students her knowledge of the broader topic of nonprofit organizations and philanthropy.

“It is a topic I am passionate about. Also, the Bush School students overall are serious learners,” she said. “They come in with clear career objectives and positive attitudes toward learning, making teaching in general an enjoyable and rewarding activity,” she said.

Dr. Qu is teaching Foundations of the Nonprofit Sector, a newly required course for all first-year students. The course focuses on the role of the nonprofit sector in American society as well as the relationships between government and the nonprofit sector. Dr. Qu believes the course is necessary for the education of all Bush School students, not just those studying nonprofit management.

“Government is not the only party that’s providing public goods and services.” Qu said. “Nonprofit organizations and individuals like you and me also contribute time and money to public goods and services, often to those minority demands unmet by a majority government. The nonprofit sector not only partners with government in service delivery but also provides a venue for the expression of diverse ideas, which underlies a democratic political system.

Therefore, whether our students are going to work for the public or nonprofit sector, it is important for them to form a critical view about the role and value of the nonprofit sector in our society.”

During the spring semester, Dr. Qu will teach Nonprofit Management in International Settings and Philanthropy and Fundraising in Nonprofits.

When asked what attracted her to come to the Bush School, Dr. Qu emphasized the intellectually stimulating and supportive environment. “It is motivating to work in a place surrounded by productive intellectuals with diverse research ideas and educational backgrounds,” Qu said.

As a promising scholar, Qu has received the Science of Philanthropy Initiative Ph.D. Grant Award, an initiative led by the University of Chicago, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the John Templeton Foundation. She has also received a number of other awards from the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), including the Emerging Scholars Award, the Diversity Scholars and Leaders Award, and a doctoral fellowship. Qu holds an MA and BA in political science from Sun Yat-Sen University in China.

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