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Important news about Developments at ISTR

Wednesday, June 6, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Robin Wehrlin
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June 6, 2018


To:        Members of the International Society for Third-Sector Research (ISTR)


From:  Steven Rathgeb Smith, President

             Margery Daniels, Executive Director


Re:      Important news about Developments at ISTR  



We hope you are doing well.  We are busy preparing for ISTR’s upcoming bi-annual research conference, and are writing to update you on important news about ISTR and its governance. 


ISTR was founded in 1992 as an unincorporated association hosted by Johns Hopkins University.  From its beginnings, the Society has operated under the JHU umbrella, first within the Institute for Policy Studies and then at the Institute for Health & Social Policy.   The ISTR staff have been employees of the university and its offices have been located on the university’s campus.


Over the years, the ISTR board of directors has discussed a separation of ISTR from the university to help promote the long-term future and vitality of the organization.  In the last two years, the board has been in the process of planning this separation.  First, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in the state of Maryland was created – initially as “The Friends of ISTR” and then, in November 2017,  the board of directors of the Friends of ISTR renamed it as The International Society for Third-Sector Research.  These steps were taken to facilitate a transition to operating the society as a free-standing nonprofit organization. 


We are now in the process of moving our financial assets and accounts into the new nonprofit organization.  This transition will proceed over the course of the next several months and will be completed by 31 December 2018 when ISTR will no longer have any financial assets held by the university. From then on, the society’s funds will be kept in bank accounts owned by ISTR.  The Society will maintain its offices at the university through June 2019, with the possible option to continue that arrangement.  (We have been paying rent to the university for many years.)  New email addresses based on the name ISTR will be created by July 2018.  Also, ISTR now solely owns the copyright to the journal, Voluntas.


The society will continue to be governed by its existing board of directors.  The normal nomination process is underway and an election for new board members will be held in fall 2018. 


As part of this transition process, the ISTR board of directors realized that ISTR needed entirely new bylaws.   The original bylaws from 1992 had remained in effect and were not well suited to the governance of a nonprofit corporation.   Consequently, the ISTR board of directors created a Bylaws Revision Subcommittee, chaired by board member Oonagh Breen, an expert on nonprofit governance and law at the Sutherland School of Law at University College Dublin.  This subcommittee developed new permanent Bylaws for ISTR, Inc. that will take effect on 1 January 2019.  These new bylaws were approved by the board of ISTR when it met at University College Dublin in February 2018.  


The board of directors also appointed a Nominations Committee to begin the process of creating a slate of candidates for election to the board beginning in January 2019. You recently received an invitation to submit suggested nominees.


The new Bylaws, along with the Terms of Reference for the Nominations and other committees are located at will also be an all-member business meeting at the upcoming conference in Amsterdam on Wednesday, July 11 at 3:30 pm. This meeting will offer members an opportunity to ask any questions and to provide feedback. 


We welcome comments and questions about the new bylaws and the transition process.  We are happy to respond to your questions and input. You can contact Steven Rathgeb Smith at  and Margery Daniels at


We strongly believe that these important changes will ensure the continuing rights of members and the long-term health of the organization, enhance our ability to effective serve our members, and more broadly support the continued growth around the world of research on the third sector.  

Contact Us

International Society for Third-Sector Research
5801 Smith Avenue
McAuley Hall, Suite 245
Baltimore, MD 21209

Tel:   410-735-4221
Fax:   410-735-4201

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