Category Archives: About the conference

ISTR 2020 – Early Registration Deadline Extended, ISTR 2020 Remains Scheduled

The health and safety of our members is our foremost priority.  Given the general concern about traveling due to the spread of Covid-19, ISTR is extending the early registration deadline to Monday, April 27, 2020.

The ISTR International Conference and ISTR PhD Seminar remains scheduled for July 2020.  Extending the author registration deadline will offer participants more time to consider their plans to travel to Montreal.

The Montreal Tourisme Office is keeping us informed about developments locally and we are monitoring other public health website.  Montreal is currently a low-risk destination for community spread of Covid-19.

If you decide not to attend we will refund your conference registration in full.  Due to the extraordinary circumstances, we will not charge the usual administrative fee on refunds.

We will keep monitoring the global situation and will provide updates.

We look forward to seeing you in Montreal. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Margery Daniels, at mdaniels@istr.org.

Please stay in touch!

With best regards,

Ruth Phillips
ISTR President

The impact from within – voicing our emotions in research

ISTR’s professional development workshops are designed by our own members, and respond to perceived needs within our own community.  This year we have a number of special sessions and workshops planned for the conference – you can read all about them on our website.

This year, one ISTR member is organizing a special kind of professional development workshop entitled “The impact from within – voicing our emotions in research.”  The intention of this workshop is not to propose a theoretical discussion, but rather to create a space where PhD students, scholars at different career stages, and practitioners may voice some of the personal issues they have experienced while doing research, such as experiencing feelings of rejection, failure, judgement, isolation, procrastination and pressure to excel.  Through a fishbowl format of interaction, we will start off the conversation and invite participants to join the conversation at any time.  And then together the group will discuss and share different strategies for coping with these stresses.

fishbowl

The workshop is being organized by Fabio Prado Saldanha, a PhD student at HEC Montréal.  He writes, “As a PhD candidate doing research with vulnerable young people living in the deprived outskirts of a huge metropolis, I was confronted  with realities that had never before been tangible for me. Doing research in places where barricades were built to prevent police from getting into the territory, and where drugs and weapons were deliberately displayed made me reflect beyond my role as a researcher while staring at structural social inequalities that I hardly feel able to change. After collecting my data in such environments, I came back to my hometown in Canada, and started to transcribe my interviews. The shock I felt was even stronger then. As I sat in front of my computer in a well-equipped house, I started to feel different emotions than I had when I was in the field.  Feelings like injustice and impotency really hit hard on me, culminating in even further negative moods that arouse throughout different periods of the day, until the moment that I searched for medical help and I was diagnosed with depression.”

The aim of this workshop is to create a safe, respectful, and welcoming space where participants may feel comfortable voicing the emotions they have experienced in research. Discussants are not previously determined: the audience itself will co-create the discussion. Although themes will be emergent-oriented, some topics will be proposed – such as family-work balance, insecurities about choices made, etc. –, with the intention to share strategies that we have developed to cope with our vulnerable situations in research.

As a community of researchers, if we intend to create impact in society with our research, it is also useful to take a look at these impacts from within.

If you plan to attend this workshop and would be willing to help get the conversation started, please email Secretariat@istr.org and let us know.

 

 

Exhibit and Advertise at ISTR 2020

ISTR and the consortium of Canadian hosts invite you to Exhibit and Advertise at the 14th International Conference in Montréal, Canada July 7-10, 2020.

Engage with 650+ leading nonprofit, civil society, and philanthropy scholars from all parts of the world.  Promote your products & services and expand your networks.

PRINT AND MOBILE ADVERTISEMENTS

Advertise in the printed conference program and on the conference app to make sure our 650+ attendees know about your academic program, recent publications, scholars, services, and share announcements.  Get a discount for print and app combined purchases.  Options and prices are available on our website.

The deadline for payment and art work is April 20, 2020. Space is available on a first-come/first-served basis.

EXHIBITS

Reserve an exhibit table adjacent to our popular coffee breaks and engage continuously with attendees.

NEW Academic Centers (university-based) can exhibit for free as ISTR members!

  • demonstrate publishing services
  • feature books, reports, and other publications
  • promote academic centers and programs

Please reserve your space online by April 20, 2020.

For more information about the conference, please visit our conference website.

Celebrating the Award Winners at the ISTR Conference

Several awards were presented at ISTR’s 13th International Conference at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam back in July and we would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the award winners.

Emerging Scholar Dissertation Award

This award, established in 2006 by an anonymous donor, is given once every two years at the biennial ISTR conference to the author of the best dissertation in the field of comparative study of civil society organizations, nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, and voluntarism and related issues.  The purpose of the award is to encourage young scholars to enter the field of nonprofit and philanthropic studies throughout the world.  The winner this year was chosen from among 60 other entries from 28 countries. The overall quality of the entries, the diversity of the topics approached, the scope of areas addressed, as well as the spectrum of research methods utilized, left a very positive impression with the members of this year’s Selection Committee.

This year’s winner is Andrew Heiss, Brigham Young University, for his PhD thesis Amicable Contempt: The Strategic Balance between Dictators and International NGOs.

andrew-heiss-2016Examining the activities and adaption of international nongovernmental organisations (INGOs) in the context of increasing global restrictions on civic space, Andrew’s dissertation addresses the paradox that while INGOs’ service and advocacy activities can threaten the legitimacy and power of authoritarian regimes, numerous autocratic states still allow the work of INGOs; similarly, despite limitations and restrictions on their own activities, numerous INGOs continue to operate in these countries. Thus, the idea put forward and explored throughout the dissertation is that the relationship between INGOs and autocratic regimes is a state of amicable contempt: each party is aware that the other both threatens and supports their existence.

Focusing on the timeframe of 1991 to 2014, and on the three cases of Egypt, Russia and China, the dissertation addresses questions about: Why do regimes allow INGOs to work in their country? What influences INGO decision making in restrictive environments? How do regimes reap the benefits of INGOs programming? How do INGOs adapt to restrictions? A creative, detailed and thorough examination of an increasingly important international issue, the dissertation thereby provides a strong theoretical basis for examining INGO-dictator relationships. Additionally, it offers a diversity of practical findings that can be used by local and international NGOs to manage risk and to improve their likelihood of survival and impact of their work.

The Selection Committee also acknowledges the merit and achievements of the two other finalists.

Nora Derbal, Freie Universität Berlin, Charity for the Poor in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 1961–2015.

Sara Compion, University of Kentucky, Volunteering And Democratization In Southern Africa: A Structural And Cultural Analysis.

Best Articles in Voluntas 2016 & 2017

 These articles will be open access and available to the public for August and September.  Patricia Mendonca, University of Sao Paulo and chair of the awards committee, presented awards to:

  • Abdulrazak Karriem, University of Western Cape Town, South Africa and Lehn M. Benjamin, Indiana University, United States, for their article, “How Civil Society Organizations Foster Insurgent Citizenship: Lessons from the Brazilian Landless Movement,” February 2016, Volume 27, Issue I, pp 19-36.
  • Jasmin Slootjes, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Thomas Kampen, University for Humanistic Studies, The Netherlands for their article, “Is My Volunteer Job Not Real Work? The Experiences of Migrant Women with Finding Employment Through Volunteer Work,” October 2017, Volume 28, Isuue 5, pp 1900–1921.

Best Poster

Stefan Toepler, George Mason University, and Publications Committee Chair presented the award to Andre-Anne Parent; Stéphanie Tourillon-Gingras; and Christian Jetté, Université de Montréal for their poster The Entre-Maisons Ahuntsic – A Collaborative Project at the Hearth of Low-rent Housing Units. Click here to see the award-winning poster!

best poster “It is the task of the publications committee to select and confer the best poster presentation award.  Doing so is a very delightful task; our only regret is that we cannot offer any publications opportunities along with the award.  That said, in selecting our awardee, we look for both intellectual and visual appeal of the poster. Intellectually, we look for clearly presented statements of the research question and approach that also convince through concision. Visually, we like posters that utilize different design elements without being distracting and that easily guide the eye along … bonus points go to posters that manage to do so without overtaxing the eyes of the grey-haired crowd and do not force us to open the magnification app on our iPhones.  There were many highly fascinating posters, but this one had the best overall package.”

PhD 3 Minute Thesis

3 minute thesisRuth Phillips, University of Sydney in Australia and President-Elect of ISTR, presented the award for the PhD 3 Minute Thesis to Fanny Dethier for her presentation titled Seeing Through NPOs. A new innovation for ISTR, this experimental competition offered a light-hearted way for students in the ISTR PhD Seminar to practice the art of distilling their ideas down to the core questions and concerns in 3 minutes and 1 PowerPoint slide.  Ten students all gave very good presentations during the seminar and the experience was fun for the audience.  A prize was awarded to the person who made the case for their research in the most clear and compelling manner, and the winner made her presentation to the entire plenary. You can view a video of her presentation (at the end of the opening plenary) by clicking here.

But besides the fun, the 3-minute thesis teaches important lessons – research should be designed to be useful, and in order to be useful (and in order to funded!) the users need to understand it and believe in it.  Sometimes 3-minutes are all we have to get the attention of our audience.

It is ISTR’s hope that this competition provided an opportunity to make the wider conference attendees more aware of the PhD seminar, and hopefully inspired the students to feel more connected to the larger group of scholars and begin to see it as their research home into the future.

Congratulations to all the award winners!

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

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.

Announcing ISTR’s Closing Plenary Keynotes

Natalie Fenton and Shih-Jung Hsu are ISTR’s keynote speakers for the closing session of the conference on Friday July 13, 2018, entitled Transforming Democratic Contexts: Challenges for the Third Sector.

This session will focus on how civil society responds to disruptions to democracy and climate change.

Natalie Fenton Natalie-Fentonis Professor of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London where she is the co-director of Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre and the Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy. She is also the research lead for Civil Society Futures (CSF) – an independent inquiry into civil society in England in partnership with Forum for the Future, CitizensUK and openDemocracy. Natalie’s own research addresses issues relating to civil society, voluntary sector, political resistance, democracy and the media. She is active in civil society herself as Chair of the Media Reform Coalition and (until recently) as Vice-chair of the Board of Directors for the campaign group Hacked Off – both of which campaign for a free, plural and accountable media. Her latest book is Digital, Political, Radical (Polity 2016).

At the conference, Dr. Fenton will discuss the interim findings from Civil Society Futures: An Inquiry into Civil Society in England – an effort to consider how civil society can best prepare for the futures that may lie ahead.  She will discuss emergent social, political and economic strategies developed from new ways of thinking about how economic and social lives connect through attempts to put more power in the hands of more people.

 

Shih-Jung_HSUShih-Jung Hsu is currently Professor of the Department of Land Economics at the National Chengchi University (NCCU), Taiwan, and is the Director of the Center for the Third Sector.  Dr. Hsu’s research concentrates on local environmental movements, urban and rural planning, land use policy, and sustainable development in Taiwan. He was former president of the Taiwan Association of Third Sector Research (TATSR). He is also a leading activist in Taiwan, and he has established one important NGO — the Taiwan Rural Front (TRF) to help farmers and local residents against land grabbing and forced eviction from the state, and he served as founding president of the TRF. His recent book, Land Justice, has received the National Tripod Award 2017 from the Chinese Ministry of Culture.

Golden Tripod Award

Dr. Hsu received his Ph.D. degree from the College of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, University of Delaware, USA (1995). He also possesses two Masters degrees, one in Political Science from the University of Delaware (1990); the other one in Land Economics from the NCCU (1986).

At the conference, Dr. Hsu will discuss his current research efforts: (1) Land governance and Taiwan’s sustainable development, (2) land use policy and its historical context, (3) environmental and human right NGOs in Taiwan.