Monthly Archives: June 2018

Ten things you didn’t know about private philanthropy for development

The following is an overview of a special roundtable ISTR is hosting at this year’s conference. 

Philanthropy’s role in advancing sustainable development attracts a lot of attention. However, very few figures are available to date on the volumes and sectors of philanthropic flows supporting development. To address this lack of reliable and comparable data, the OECD produced the report on Private Philanthropy for Development. The report calls into question long-held assumptions about the volume, nature and potential of foundations’ engagement in developing countries, and the role they can play to support the SDGs.

philanthropy for development

The report examines philanthropic resource flows for development purposes, as well as foundations’ priorities, practices and partnering behaviors. It presents fresh perspectives and action-oriented recommendations to optimize philanthropy’s role in support of sustainable development.

This report offers practical insights for government policy makers and decision makers in civil society organisations, social enterprises and foundations. It results from close co-operation between the OECD Development Centre’s Network of Foundations Working for Development (netFWD) and the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate.

The ISTR Conference will host a round table introducing and presenting the 2018 OECD Report on Private Philanthropy for Development. Lorenzo Pavone, Head (Acting), Partnerships and Network Unit, OECD Development Centre, will present the report’s ground-breaking data and fresh perspectives on how to optimise philanthropy’s role in support of sustainable development.

Following this, the panel will discuss the report’s findings and its implications.  Panel participants include:


Ten things you didn’t know about private philanthropy for development

12 July, 10:30am to 12:00pm

ISTR Conference, VU University Amsterdam, Room, 2A-33

Directions to the Conference Venue

Here is some helpful information for those of you traveling to Amsterdam for the ISTR Conference.  You can also download a print version of these instructions, or get it off the ISTR Conference mobile app.

The conference will be held at VU University Amsterdam, which is located at the South of Amsterdam. The Campus is easily accessible from the center of Amsterdam by various numbers of public transport (metro/tram).

Address: Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1081, 1081 HV Amsterdam

Transit stop: De Boelelaan/VU

Here is a photo of the main building where the conference will be held and a map showing it’s location on campus.  It’s the tallest building on campus so you can’t miss it.

From Schiphol Airport to VU

  • Take the train to Station Amsterdam Zuid
  • Express tram 51 (1 minute), direction Amstelveen Westwijk
  • Tram 5 (1 minute), direction Amstelveen Binnenhof
  • It is a 10-minute walk to the VU from Station Amsterdam Zuid. From the Amsterdam South Train station, take exit ‘VU / Parnassusweg’ and follow the signs à From there it is a 600 meter walk to the main entrance of VU Amsterdam. After descending the stairs, go left and walk straight. You will see the tall concrete building just in front of you.     

From Central Station to VU

  • Metro tram 51, direction Amstelveen Westwijk (16 minutes), stop at: De Boelelaan/VU
  • Tram 5, direction Amstelveen Binnenhof (25 minutes), stop at: De Boelelaan/VU
  • Tram 16 or 24, direction VUmc, final stop

Tram, bus, metro tickets

The GVB day or multi-day ticket provides you with unlimited travel throughout Amsterdam, both day and night, on the bus, tram, and metro, for the number of days that best fits your plans.

1 hour                                 € 3.00

1 day (24 hours)               € 7,50

2 days (48 hours)             € 12,50

3 days (72 hours)             € 17,50

4 days (96 hours)             € 22,50

5 days (120 hours)           € 27,50

6 days (144 hours)           € 31.50

7 days (168 hours)           € 34,50

Buy those tickets at the airport Schiphol (AKO), Holland Tourist Information, yellow ticket vending machines, and GVB Tickets & Info desks at major metro stations.

You can also buy the tickets in advance online: GVB day ticket or multi day ticket

Bringing your kids? A children’s day ticket is also available for a heavily reduced fare. This ticket is for children 4 through 11 years. The child ticket can only be purchased via GVB Tickets &, and our Service points

By Car to VU

The A-10 Amsterdam ring road can be reached from all directions.  Follow the A-10 to the Zuid/Amstelveen exit S108.  Turn left at the end of the slip road onto Amstelveenseweg; after three hundred yards (at the VU University hospital building) turn left again onto De Boelelaan.  VU University Amsterdam can be reached via city routes S108 and S109.


There is a limited amount of parking space around VU University Amsterdam in De Boelelaan, which has parking bays, and also in Karel Lotsylaan.  There is paid parking on VU Amsterdam parking lot to the right of the Hospital Outpatient Clinic.

Schiphol Airport to Downtown Amsterdam

Please note that if you are traveling from the airport to the conference venue directly, you should refer to the instructions above.

Amsterdam Airport Express

airport express logo

Need a quick connection between Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and the city centre of Amsterdam? Take the Amsterdam Airport Express (bus 397)! Please note: this used to be bus 197.

The Amsterdam Airport Express provides a quick and easy transfer from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to the city centre of Amsterdam. Departing every 7,5 minutes from bus platforms B15-19, this bus takes you directly to Museumplein, Rijksmuseum or Leidseplein. From there on you can get to many hotels in Amsterdam very easily.

Buy your e-ticket now!

·         (single e-ticket)

·         (return e-ticket)

You can also buy this ticket at the Info & Ticket bus or directly from the bus driver.

Helpful Links:

Timetable bus N97 (Niteliner) Schiphol Airport – Amsterdam Centre


How to Run a Conference Panel That Isn’t Horrible

Several ISTR members and friends of ISTR have sent us copies of this blog by Adam Grant.  We thought it resonated and wanted to share it with all of you.  The text of his blog is below.

How to Run a Conference Panel That Isn’t Horrible

Published on 

Whenever I go to a conference, the thing I dread most is panels.A typical panel is a show about nothing. Sure, it worked on Seinfeld—but they had comedic geniuses obsessing over the perfect script and a whole cast of skilled actors and producers making it sing. (Though panels do have some recurring characters: I’m sure you’ve met The Rambler, The Spotlight Hog, and The Mansplainer.)

Panels aren’t going away any time soon. Since I end up sitting on them and moderating them on a regular basis, I decided to see if I could fix them.

And by fix them, I mean run a panel that doesn’t ruin your day. Here are my guidelines:


1. Keep it small. In my experience, the best panels have a moderator and no more than two or three guests. Just like in teams, less is more. Larger panels create more communication and coordination difficulties. It’s impossible to find a rhythm with six people on stage. People just sit there waiting to make their point.

2. Invite people who complement each other. I’ve suffered through panels that flop because the participants have nothing in common and because they have totally redundant perspectives. You need a mix of similarities and differences. In psychology it’s called optimal distinctiveness. Every panelist should fit into a common topic but stand out based on having unique insights or experiences.

3. Design for relationships between the panelists. A group of strangers sitting on stage together is a recipe for disaster. A great panel feels like being a fly on the wall for an actual conversation between friends or sparring partners.

Don’t just think about the qualities that you want in individual panelists or moderators; invite people who actually know each other. They’re used to having conversations together, they’re familiar with each other’s views, and they’re more likely to be comfortable debating and disagreeing respectfully.

If they haven’t connected before, have them spend some time getting to know each other. Even a quick email exchange followed by five minutes face-to-face backstage can help build rapport and give time to compare notes on what to cover (and avoid).


4. Encourage the panelists to talk to each other. A rookie mistake is when panelists are all having individual conversations with the moderator. That’s just a bunch of one-on-one interviews slapped together—you would never do that in a meeting or at a party.

Maryellen Reilly introduced me to a creative way of nudging authentic discussion: invite each participant to ask a question of one other panelist. Along with catapulting them into a natural back-and-forth, it’s fascinating to see what they most want to learn from one another.

5. Ask them to keep their comments short. The most compelling responses are usually no more than 60 seconds. That’s where you start pushing the limits of conversational attention span and violating the natural flow of back-and-forth. Go longer and you’re just doing sequential monologues. Short answers open the door for burstiness, where it sounds like the panel is literally bursting with ideas. The energy picks up, people veer off script and actually build on one another, and there’s more room for unexpected wisdom and spontaneous humor.

6. Don’t let every panelist answer every question. That immediately devolves into mind-numbing turn-taking. No one has something interesting or informative to say on all the topics.

7. Tell them you might interrupt them. The moderator’s job is to guide the conversation to make it worthwhile for the audience. So if panelists start rambling, you need to jump in with a comment, a fresh question, or a redirect. At first I struggled to do that—I was afraid of being disagreeable. But I found that when I told panelists in advance that I might interrupt them, the awkwardness melted away. It’s not rude to interrupt them once you have their permission.


8. Start by asking for a story. Panels fall flat when participants never get to share their knowledge—and the audience has no context for why they’re there. Sometimes moderators try to solve that by reading lengthy bios for each panelist, which is a huge waste of time. Just introduce them with a few highlights that explain why they’re on stage, and invite them each to tell a story on the topic.

As you can hear in a #MeToo panel that I moderated at WorkHuman this spring with Ashley Judd, Ronan Farrow, and Tarana Burke, people come alive when they tell stories. I know that as a panelist, I’m much more entertaining when I tell a story about learning to love criticism or being told I type too loud. And then there are some natural follow-up questions to ask.

9. Pose questions that make the audience—and the panelists—think. The richest questions often start with why (to get at motivation/purpose) and how (to get at strategy/tactics). It can also help to surface tension, which doesn’t have to be with other panelists; you can prompt them to challenge conventional wisdom or their own past experiences.

Two of my favorite questions are “What’s the worst career advice you’ve gotten?” and “What’s something you believed early in your career that you now think is wrong?” Sometimes it helps to give them the questions in advance, both for peace of mind and for reflection time.

Another trick is to have the audience ask their questions at the beginning of the panel instead of the end. As Kumar Garg points out, it helps the panelists get more specific and more practical.

10. Run a lightning round. Come ready with a few questions that panelists can answer in a word or a sentence. Other than an opening story, that’s the only time you want everyone to chime in: it’s a great way to get diverse ideas on the table swiftly and represent everyone’s voice. It can be a fun appetizer early on if there’s a burning question where you want to surface a range of views, a nice interjection to keep the conversation moving if it’s dragging in the middle, or a strong closing if you want to wrap up with a light, memorable Q&A.

It’s always reassuring to hear successful people open up about their vices. What was your worst idea ever? What task do you procrastinate on? When do you feel the most self-doubt?


Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist at Wharton, a #1 New York Timesbestselling author, and the host of the TED podcast WorkLife. He shares insights in his free monthly newsletter, GRANTED.

An insider’s guide to visiting Amsterdam

Guest post by Claire van Teunenbroek, 4th year PhD student at the Center for Philanthropic Studies at VU University.

There are more than enough museums in Amsterdam. In order to make a selection I asked several real ‘Amsterdamers’ about the ‘must see’ places in Amsterdam.

The history of Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a city like no other. It started as a little fishing village (named Amstelledamme) in the 13th century and since then the city has always been driven by trade. Fun fact: the early progress of Amsterdam in the 14th century is partially due though exclusive trading rights to beer imports from Hamburg. During the 14th  and 15th centuries, Amsterdam underwent a rapid development. This time was called the Golden Age. Unfortunately only a handful of medieval buildings survive today: among them are the Old and New Churches (see below) and the Houten Huis (Wooden House) at the Begijnhof.

By the 17th century Amsterdam turned into the richest city on earth by trading in beer, wheat, guns, tobacco and diamonds. While Dutch ships sailed all over the world, artists such as Rembrandt led a cultural renaissance in the city. Some of the oldest buildings date back to the Golden Age, such as the town hall at the Dam Square (now Royal Palace). In addition, the Amsterdam residents were and still are a diverse group resulting in part from the high rates of immigration from those fleeing persecution in their homelands (especially in the 16th and 17th century).

From 14 may 1940 to 5 May 1945, Amsterdam was occupied by Nazi Germany. More than 100,000 were deported, among them Anne Frank (you can visit the Anne Frank house where the girl and her family hid from the Nazis for more than two years, but note that the Anne Frank house is almost always fully booked during the summer times so try to get your tickets in advance). Now a days, the city is again home to many different nationalities. Just go for a walk in the Amsterdam forest or ‘een rondje Bosbaan’ and see for yourself.

Places to visit

Amsterdam has several interesting places to visit but ISTR Conference participants will have limited time to be tourists.  Visiting the following places will give you an idea of the rich history of Amsterdam. If you want to visit any of these places I advise you to search for additional information about possible reservation requirements.

Amsterdam Heineken Beer Museum


Admission: €18 p.p.

Opening times: daily 10.30am – 17.30 pm

Where: Stadhouderskade 78, 1072 AE Amsterdam

Beer helped build Amsterdam and it is still an important substance for the city; if you love it as much as the Dutch, you can visit the Amsterdam Heineken beer museum. This iconic and historic beer museum is a top tourist attraction. The brewery was established in 1864 and now a days Heineken is a huge multinational company. During the tour you can see their old defunct brewery, with several amusement park attractions added to the exhibition. You can admire the 19th century architecture, old photographs and other memorabilia from the Heineken family. Beer tasting is included in the admission price (for adults only, of course).

Oude Kerk (Old church): 13th century church

old church

Admission: €10.00 p.p.

Opening times: daily 10am – 18 pm

Where: Oudekerksplein, 1012 GX Amsterdam

Built in the 13th century, this protestant church is the oldest in Amsterdam and it was originally built as a Catholic place of worship, which is why the Oude Kerk features things characteristic for Catholic cathedrals (like sculpted misericords in the choir, high windows, impressive old gravestones and exceptional architecture). In 1566 the interior was demolished when the Amsterdam population revolted against the Catholic Church. Traces of vandalism remain visible until today. Another interesting fact is the that contrast between the religious house and its surroundings could not be bigger: next to the church you will see a coffee shop.

Nieuwe kerk (New church)

new church

Admission: free

Opening times: daily 10am – 18 pm

Where: Dam Square, Amsterdam

Adjacent to the Royal Palace you can find the Nieuwe Kerk, a church of the highest order. It was built circa 1400 to make up for the shortage of churches in the city over the years. Contrary to the Oude Kerk, it managed to escape major damage during the revolt against the Catholic Church. However, two centuries later it was completely demolished when plumbers accidentally started a fire. It was restored to its former glory, exhibiting the early Renaissance style. Today, the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam is the most important church in the Netherlands. Since 1814, Dutch monarchs have been inaugurated here, including the reigning King Willem – Alexander. In between coronations and weddings, the Amsterdam New Church is the venue for the temporary art and history exhibitions.

In addition, you can taste some wine under the Nieuwe Kerk at The Wine Cellar. This cozy (and often overlooked) location is below grount at the side of the historic church.

Houten huis and Begijnhof

het houten huis

Opening times: daily 8am – 17 pm

Where: Beijnhof, number 34

Het Houten Huis is the oldest house in Amsterdam, dating from around 1420. It is one of the two remaining wooden-front houses in the city; timber houses were banned in 1521 after a series of catastrophic fires. You can find the house at number 14 at the Begijnhof courtyard. The Begijnhof is an enclosed courtyard dating around the early 18th century. The courtyard was originally built for the Begijntjes, a Catholic sisterhood who lived like nuns.

Ons Lieve Heer op Solder: Amsterdam’s secret religious house

secret church

Admission: €11.00 p.p.

Opening times: daily 10am – 18 pm

Where: Oudezijds Voorburgwal 38, 1012 GE, Amsterdam.

Museum Ons Lieve Heer op Solder is a 17th century canal house with a catholic church in the attic. Catholicism was officially outlawed after the reformation in the 16th century. As a result, many followers of Catholicism were forced to worship in secret. Some built hidden churches like this chapel. The chapel remains almost completely intact. The chapel is tucked away in the hearth of Amsterdam’s inner city. The church symbolizes the characteristic (religious) tolerance of the Netherlands, established by the Dutch in the sixteenth century under Willem of Orange. It is also the oldest museum in the city, second only to the Rijksmuseum.

Town hall at the Dam Square (now Royal Palace)

town hall

Admission: €10.00 p.p.

Opening times: daily 10am – 17 pm

Where: Nieuwezijds Voorburg 147, de Dam Amsterdam

Originally the town hall, the building was built in the 17th century during the Dutch Golden Age. It was then the largest secular building in Europe. It later became the royal palace of King Louis Napoleon and later of the Dutch Royal house. Fun fact: the building includes 13,659 wooden piles.

Het Scheepvaartmuseum Amsterdam: accurate replica of a VOC ship and more

ship museum

Admission: €15.00 p.p.

Opening times: daily 9am – 17 pm

Where: Kattenburgerplein 1, 1018 KK Amsterdam

You don’t even have to go inside to be marvelled by this museum. The building was built in 1656 to house equipment for Dutch warships, like canons, munition, sails and ropes. Now a days the building hosts several exhibitions related to ships and the sea. In front of the museum lies a replica of the VOC-ship Amsterdam. You can enter the ship while visiting the museum and touch the canons, sails and ropes. Also, you can go below deck to get hands on experience.

Cheese museum: because the Dutch love their cheese

cheese museum

Admission: free of charge, but a donation is always welcome

Opening times: daily 9am – 10 pm

Where: Prinsengracht 112, 1015 EA Amsterdam

The Dutch love their cheese and have a more than 600-year tradition of cheese-making. Most of the cheeses you can find (and bite if you buy one) in the museum are named after Dutch cities, like Gouda, Maaslander and Leerdammer. The museum is about a step away from the Anne Frank House, on the other side of the Prinsengracht, and is completely dedicated to Dutch cheese. The museum also has an attractive shop. At least one of the sellers wears traditional Dutch clothes and so could you! You can visit the “photo corner” where you can dress up as Dutch farmers in order to take a picture (all free of charge).  

Amsterdam Forest, Bosbaan and Dutch pancakes at a local farm: Boederij Meerzicht

pancake house

Opening times Boederij Meerzicht: daily 10am – 19 pm

Where: Koenenkade 56, 1081 KG Amsterdam

Site Boederij Meerzicht:

After a busy day I advise you to take a walk through the Amsterdam forest (2,471 acres) and enjoy a delicious (and very Dutch) pancake at the Boederij Meerzicht. The farm was built around 1857, long before they planted the Amsterdamse forest. The farm is one of the few farms that managed to remain even after the forest was built. The farm is now run by the third generation, but grandma’s pancake recipe remains the same. Enjoy!

If you feel like walking, you can follow the Bosbaan, which is a rowing lake situated in the Amsterdam forest. The Bosbaan measures a length of 2200 metres. The Amsterdam forest has several open areas and meadows. Some of which are located along an artificial beach along ponds.


Traditional Dutch Cuisine: Restaurant Moeders


Opening times: 17 pm – 24 pm (Monday – Friday) Weekends: 12.00 pm – 24 pm.

Where: Rozengracht 251, 1015 sX Amsterdam

Moeders (Dutch for “mothers”) opened in 1990. During the opening the guest were asked to bring their own plate, glass and cutlery. As a result, the wooden tables are set with a diverse range of plates, wineglasses and cutlery.  Moeders is known for several Dutch specialties. You can order several traditional Dutch home dishes. In addition, the desserts are simply amazing.

We look forward to welcoming you to Amsterdam!



Download the ISTR Conference Mobile App!

Navigate the ISTR International Conference with our mobile app, powered by Core-apps. With our mobile app, you can:

  • Stay organized with up-to-the-minute, speaker, session, and overall conference information
  • Read the full submitted abstracts for each paper
  • Search sessions and abstracts by conference theme
  • Create a personalized schedule by bookmarking sessions
  • Save your favorite sessions so that you can return and review them later
  • Receive important real-time communications from the ISTR staff
  • See what sessions are currently happening and what’s coming up next using “What’s On Now”
  • Find attendees and connect with your colleagues. Be sure to publish your profile to interact with other app users
  • Have local restaurants and transportation information on hand
  • And much, much more!

Download the App 

SCAN: Use your devices QR code scanner to quickly find the ISTR Conference App


SEARCH: The App Store or Google Play for “ISTR”

FOR ALL OTHER DEVICE TYPES: (including BlackBerry, Windows, and other web browser-enabled devices): point your mobile browser to

to be directed to the proper download version for your device.  

Platform Compatibility: Android v4x+ and iOS v7x+

Should you have any questions, please contact:

Upcoming ISTR Roundtable: Revisiting the Legitimacy and Credibility of NGOs: Readings, Reasons and Research

The following is a guest post reflecting on one of the roundtable sessions at the upcoming ISTR Conference organized by Alan Fowler, Honorary Professor Chair in African Philanthropy, Wits Business School and Professor Emeritus, International Institute of Social Studies and Kees Biekart, Associate Professor International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

The problem of trust.  Can non-governmental organisations dedicated to development and humanitarian relief (NGOs) be trusted?  Does their legitimacy matter!  NGOs will surely answer that their credibility is essential.  Without it, fundraising becomes more difficult, supporters retreat, governments become (more) suspicious and media thrive on adding to the negativity.  A recent highly publicized flurry about the behaviour of a few NGO staff and remedial actions taken are a bit of a distraction from the systematic forces that appear to be eroding the legitimacy and credibility that these organisations have built up over many decades.  What is going on and why now?

Ending of a golden era?   A golden decade of NGO legitimacy, public standing and support from official aid agencies started to ebb away as one millennium gave way to another.  Four erosion processes appear to weave together.

Comparative advantages. Really?  One is a challenge to NGO efficacy.  Doubts about NGOs being more effective than other development actors in reaching and working with the billion poor at the base of the pyramid are growing.  Compelling evidence to the contrary is difficult to find.  Faith in NGOs’ comparative advantages in relief and development faded and gave way to many demands to demonstrate results.  Despite the significant investments in monitoring and evaluation, technical difficulties hamper convincing responses.

The accountability challenge.  Legitimacy is also challenged by issues of inadequate accountability to the complex mix of stakeholders involved in who NGOs are and what they do for who.  12 accountability committmentsParticipation principles notwithstanding, feedback mechanisms from intended beneficiaries on the relevance and quality of NGO work remained overshadowed by accountability to those providing resources. The Accountability Commitments set up by leading international NGOs with its twelve commitments shows the range of demands to be met and promises to be kept.  The seriousness of accountability for reputation and negative consequences when perceptions of inadequacy arise should not be underestimated.

Political suspicion.  A further source of erosion for NGO legitimacy is coming from many governments, particularly those whose own legitimacy is open to question.  The ‘shrinking of civic space’ – that is the freedom for citizen action – is tracked by the Civicus Monitor project.  Far more countries limit such freedoms than enable them, while the list and range of restrictive repertoires is growing.  One government strategy delegitimizing NGOs is to declare them as being unelected as well as acting as ‘foreign agents’, beholden to external funders.  Another is to call into question NGO credibility to represent the interest, if not the voice, of those in whose name they operate.  Countering these politically inspired messages to shape public opinion is made difficult by the fact that NGOs are often ‘disassociated’ from the population at large.  In other words, there is often a lack of a strong bonding with the people from which legitimizing support and action should come.

A vulnerable moral high ground.  A fourth force working against NGO legitimacy is associated with organisational morality.  For the past decade or more, a zeitgeist has taken hold that the private sector and market principles may be a better solution to poverty reduction.  The moral underpinnings of the logic of non-profit organisations working for the public good rather than private gain bring an uneven vulnerability to charges of immoral behaviour than is the case when, for example, corporate corruption is exposed.  This might also hold true for #metoo within NGOs.  Their reputations can suffer more from a bad press because business behaviour is not strongly associated with an ethic of fairness or justice.

The knock on effects of reputational set-backs for the NGO community as a whole should not be underestimated, nor should the degree of collective solidarity be over-estimated.  It seems that many NGOs choose for an individual solution to a problem that can better be viewed as collectively shared.

The roundtable will take place Wednesday 11th July, 09:00 – 10:30 in Room 12A 33 and will feature an interactive discussion with Prof. Thea Hilhorst, of ISS, Dr. Irene Guijt of Oxfam UK, Anabel Cruz of Civicus (Uruguay) and Dr. Patricia Mendoça from the Universidade de São Paulo (Brazil).  Kees Biekart of the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) will facilitate. Click here to see the full ISTR Conference Schedule.