Annual Report 2017

13th International Conference

Conference planning began with distributing the Call for Contributions, in May, on the theme:  Democracy and Legitimacy:  The Role of the Third Sector in a Globalizing World.  Submissions of over 750 submissions were received and included 642 papers, 60 panels, 22 posters and 27 roundtables.  The blind review process began in October. involving over 100 reviewers from nearly 30 countries.  The keynote address will be given by Professor Donatella della Porta, titled, Innovations from Below: Civil Society Beyond the Crisis.

The conference host is Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Philanthropic Studies Department.  The conference dates are July 10-13, 2018.


Regional Conferences

ISTRAN Africa Regional Network

ISTR signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) for 2017, to create a partnership and serve as the secretariat for the network in Accra, Ghana.  As part of the MOU, a part-time project coordinator was hired to staff the secretariat during the first six months of 2017. The goal was to develop the network, hold the regional conference and PhD Seminar and develop a critical mass of African scholars dedicated to the field of Third Sector research.

The African Regional conference was held June 21-23, 2017. The theme was: Civil Society and Philanthropy in Africa:  Context, Contradictions, Possibilities, it focused on attracting emerging African scholars and practitioners. It also prioritized building the research leadership capacity of young African researchers by dedicating the third day of the conference to a PhD seminar.

The conference was held at the University of Ghana Business School in Accra, attracted 55 participants and 21 papers were presented. Five African nations and 8 nations outside of the region were represented, Professor Adam Habib gave the keynote address, Giving in Africa, focused on the need to improve the role of civil society and philanthropy in Africa and encouraging researchers to challenge the current African narratives. 

The PhD seminar targeted African PhD and master students, early career academics, and civil society practitioner researchers, and sought to provide knowledge and tools to develop their research capacity through expert talks and a publication workshop. The Seminar included professional development sessions on Careers in and out of Academia, Civil Society-Academia Partnerships in Practice, Network and Alliance Building, How to Get your Manuscript Out, and Research Challenges and Strategies.  Four PhD students worked with faculty while a larger group of about 50 students, many of whom are enrolled in a masters program, worked together in groups.

The conference was supported by the Open Society Foundation for Southern Africa (OSISA), the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, WACSI and ISTR.


Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Network 

The 11th Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Network meeting was held in Quito, Ecuador from 18-20 October at both Los Hemisferios University and Simón Bolívar Andean University.  Democracy and Civil Society in Latin America and the Caribbean in a Time of Change was the theme of the keynote address by Professor Bernardo Toro. Twelve countries from within the Latin American region were represented, as well as nine countries outside of the region. The program included 22 sessions with about 90 papers and 18 posters.  Two roundtables were presented on learning and teaching about sustainability, and about civil society in Ecuador and relationships with the State and Academia.  The journal Gobernar will publish a special issue (in Spanish) on Latin America and papers from the conference will be included. 

The first regional PhD Workshop took place prior to the conference with 11 PhD students and seven master students from five countries - Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador and Mexico.  The workshop offered students the opportunity to discuss their research projects and share experience with other PhD students and the faculty. The faculty included Andres Hernandez Quiñones (Universidad del los Andes, Colombia), Mario Aquino Alves (Fundação Getulio Vargas, Brazil), Annette Zimmer (University of Muenster, Germany), Susan Appe (SUNY Binghamton University, USA), Ines Pousadela (Universidad ORT and Civicus), Marcos Kisil (Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil), Marlei Pozzebon (HEC Montreal, Canada and Fundação Getúlio Vargas, Brazil), Jairo Rivera (Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Ecuador), Tânia Fischer (Centro Interdisciplinar de Desenvolvimento e Gestão Social. Universidade Federal da Bahia, Brasil) and Paula Chies Schommer (Universidade do Estado de Santa Catarina, Brazil). In the opening plenary, the faculty and the students discussed topics related to (i) the research in the field of the third sector: opportunities and challenges and (ii) academic and professional career in the third sector. A session on publishing, on October 20, was led by Ruth Simsa, editor of Voluntas and Teresa Krauss and Bruno Fiuza from Springer.

Support for the conference came from VIVA Idea Trust, Avina Foundation, Ecuadorian Confederation of NGOs, Journal Gobernar, Springer, ISTR and in-kind from the two hosting universities and Instituto de Comunicación Desarrollo.


Asia Pacific Regional Network

The ISTR Asia Pacific Conference, Global Challenges and Sustainability in the Asia Pacific: The Role of the Third Sector, was hosted by CECT Universitas Trisakti in Jakarta, Indonesia and included 105 participants. 

The diversity of perspectives and insights -- both illuminating and inspiring and a wide range of global South perspectives were presented through an excellent program of papers. There were presenters from places as diverse as Fiji, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Korea, Japan, Singapore, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, the USA, the UK, Australia, Thailand and even Hungary.

The tone for this exciting conference was set by the keynote address from Professor Akihiro Ogawa, Professor of Japanese Studies at the Asia Institute, the University of Melbourne. Professor Ogawa recently edited the Routledge Handbook of Civil Society in Asia (2017) and gave an overview about the current state of civil society in Asia, exploring its future and raising key challenges ahead and new research directions for the third sector and civil society more generally.  Attendees were also enriched by presentations and panels by local entrepreneurs and corporate sector representatives who presented on innovations in CSR and social enterprise, providing great insight into the unique Indonesian context for the third sector and its dynamic relationship with the state.

For the first time, the ISTR Asia Pacific Conference held a two-day PhD seminar prior to the conference where a group of 13 PhD students from Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and the UK, and were supported by four faculty.  The seminar included workshops presentations from other academics to engage, learn and network with fellow students and expert researcher/academics from a diverse range of countries. The workshop topics included Getting Published (Carolyn Cordery and Takako Nakajima, editor of The Nonprofit Review, JANPORA’s journal), Career Strategies (Aya Okada), The Tension between Fundamental and Applied Research (Ruth Phillips, University of Sydney, Australia), and Researching in the Third Sector (Maria Radyati, Trisakti University, Indonesia).

Faculty included: Carolyn Cordery (Aston Business School, UK); Bambang Shergi (University of Indonesia, Indonesia); Kinman Chan (Chinese University of Hong Kong); Aya Okada (Kanazawa University, Japan).


Board of Directors

The board of directors held its annual meeting, June 19-20, in Accra, Ghana. The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) was our host.  The meeting addressed issues of strategic planning, Bylaws revisions, and regional networks.  Key items included establishing a new East Asian Regional Hub, review of proposed Bylaws changes, mission statement, and strategic issues for the regional networks.  The board was joined by Adam Habib, former board member and current Chancellor of Witwatersrand University, for a session to discuss the African research landscape.  Professor Habib noted that most researchers are working on social movements, not third sector studies and very little work is being done on philanthropy. 



Voluntas continues its growth with six issues in 2016, including three special issues, Advances in Research on Nonprofit Advocacy and Civic Engagement, Citizenship in China, and Social Enterprises and Welfare Regimes.  A new seven year contract (2018-2024) was signed with our publisher, Springer.  The contract includes funds for Best Paper Award, Best Poster Award, and sponsorship of an event during each biennial conference.  The publisher will also translate four articles per year from English into another language for publication in the journal.

The Nonprofit and Civil Society Springer Book Series, in cooperation with ISTR, published two books in 2017.  German Philanthropy in Transatlantic Perspective; Perceptions, Exchanges and Transfers since the Early Twentieth Century, Edited by Gregory R. Witkowski and Arnd Bauerkämper. Perspectives on Volunteering: Voices from the South, Edited by Jacqueline Butcher and Christopher J. Einolf.  


East Asia Third Sector Researchers Network 

An East Asia Regional Hub is now based at the Center for Innovation Studies at Chinese University of Hong Kong.  This effort has been organized by our board member, Kinman Chan.  The first issue was published in October and will be published monthly with the goal to help scholars and students exchange information about publications, conferences and job vacancies in third-sector studies.  In addition, Facebook and Weibo pages will be established.


ISTR Establishes Nonprofit Status

ISTR established a nonprofit association in the State of Maryland and received 501 c 3 status from the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Initially established as Friends of ISTR, the name has now been changed to ISTR, Inc. The association is working to separate from its host organization, Johns Hopkins University in the coming year.

A Bylaws Committee has been established to revise the Bylaws. 


PhD Alumni Network 

A group of four PhD Seminar Alumni members established a network on Facebook. They are working to build the membership and to create Professional Development sessions for the Amsterdam Conference.



The 2016/17 membership cycle ended with 1,115 members—the largest number yet.  The regional network meetings contributed to this growth as new members included 64 from Latin America, 67 from Asia Pacific, and 31 from Africa.



As a membership association, the main sources of revenue are from membership dues, publication royalties, grants and conference registrations. In addition, the Society receives contributions from partners as well as from conference advertisers, and donations. Volunteer work and other contributions from members and partners, although not measured in financial terms, are also critical to the work of ISTR.

The Society’s expenses include conferences, conference registration subsidies, regional networks, membership support, editorial support, publications, and personnel and secretariat support.

Is important to note that the funds raised and expended in-country, for the Conferences, are the responsibility of the host institution and are not directly reflected on the budgets and reports of ISTR.

As a component of the transition, in 2016 the Society began operating a free-standing nonprofit organization. In 2017 ISTR Inc. was established as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. We are now in the process of consolidating our accounts. This transition will be completed by 31 December 2018, when the Society’s funds will be kept in bank accounts owned by ISTR, no longer by the university, as it has been since its founding in 1992.


   2017 REVENUE






related link: 

  ISTR Yearbook





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

About ISTR
Email ISTR
Mailing Lists Signup
Follow Us