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Regional Network Policies
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Preamble | The Guiding Framework | Regional Networks | Affinity, Study, Interest, Thematic and Other Groups | Submission Process | Inclusion, Exclusion, Non-Discrimination and other ISTR Guiding Principles | Board Monitoring | Fulfilling ISTR's Catalytic Role


ISTR is a membership organisation open to individuals and institutions interested in promoting Third Sector scholars and scholarship. Achieving ISTR's vision and mission therefore depends on the commitment and active support of members. ISTR does not exist to replace or substitute for members' initiatives, but to catalyse and enhance them throughout the world. To this end, ISTR services and investments should always serve to seed, catalyse and stimulate members to identify and pursue shared interests. ISTR's resources cannot be relied on to sustain member-initiated activities - this responsibility rests with members themselves.

The foregoing perspectives present the ISTR Secretariat and Board with two significant tasks. First, is to provide services that enable members to collectively define and pursue their interests and concerns. Following the Guiding Principle of subsidiarity, ISTR should not to do things instead of members, or on their behalf, unless this specifically requested and approved. The Board's second task is to safeguard and enhance ISTR's reputation. Why? Because the value of membership is directly related to the society's public standing and reputation which, in turn, depends on the type and quality of activities undertaken in its name. Fulfilling an oversight task calls for transparency in decision-making and a clear understanding of the rights and obligations associated with using the ISTR name. This document, therefore, sets out policies and guidelines which will assist members and the Board to determine how ISTR should respond and relate to members' initiatives and proposals. THE GUIDING FRAMEWORK

ISTR's Vision, Mission and Guiding Principles (available on the website) are overarching statements about what ISTR is and stands for. They provide the framework, direction and benchmarks for the policies, criteria and procedures that follow. These guidelines are prepared so that members can understand how the Secretariat and Board will approach translating these broad statements into practice. In other words, they are intended to help operationalise the Board's mandate in a transparent way. In case-by-case application, these guidelines provide the point of reference for Board interpretation and decision making.

ISTR is a young organisation. The expectation is, therefore, that these guidelines will be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

At this stage of its development, ISTR recognises two primary categories of association between members: regional networks and affinity or interest groups. They differ in terms of making a claim on ISTR services and resources and on the priorities the Board will set. REGIONAL NETWORKS

One category of association between members is through recognised ISTR regional networks. ISTR is committed to promoting and strengthening geographically defined networks, especially between researchers in and from developing nations and in Central and Eastern Europe. Priority towards these regional networks has a two-fold intention. First, it is a way of operationalising an ISTR objective of redressing the structural imbalance in Third Sector scholarly interest and capacity across the world as identified in the member survey. In addition, ISTR foresees -- and is working towards -- an evolution of governance that will include the election of regional as well as other categories of member representation. Investment in a modest number of regional networks is therefore budgeted as part of a long-term strategy, which proceeds at the pace of regional members themselves.

Given the current stage of organisational development and budget limitations, ISTR has so far adopted a flexible approach to defining or recognising regional networks. However, as one outcome of ISTR's strategic planning process, members are being asked to determine how many regions ISTR should recognise and how they should be delineated. For the present, investment is prioritised towards establishing and enhancing networks in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe.

Rights and Obligations of ISTR Regional Networks

The ISTR Board is committed to fundraising for and, subject to resource availability, positively responding to initiatives from regional networks. However, highest priority will be given to regional conferences or similar events that complement the ISTR two-yearly global conference. Capacity within the Secretariat will normally be made available to assist in making regional networks' conferences a success.

When considering applications for support to regional networks and networking, the Board will consider the extent to which the applicant(s):

  • Can demonstrate support/mandate from regional members.
  • Can ensure that there is no impediment to participation of members from all countries in the region.
  • Has the capacity to initiate and run an ISTR regional event.
  • Is able to fulfil a regional communication function.
  • Shows a reasonable potential for local and other fundraising.
  • Is capable of undertaking the necessary financial reports and administrative functions.
ISTR support to conferences and events organised by regional networks ispremised on the requirement that all scholarship participants are ISTRmembers. Eligibility for scholarships will be limited to individuals whohave join ISTR for at least 2 years.

Recognition as an ISTR regional network brings a number of rights and obligations.


Recognised ISTR networks and their initiatives are entitled to following.

  • Use of the ISTR name in communications, fundraising and other activities.
  • Access to ISTR mailing lists.
  • Reasonable space in ISTR publications.
  • Inclusion and provision in ISTR's budget and ongoing fundraising efforts.

As obligations, ISTR networks are expected to:

  • Function in accordance with ISTR's vision, mission and guiding principles.
  • Actively organise a regional network activity, minimally a regional conference, seminar workshop in the year ISTR does not have its biennial conference.
  • Adequately involve the Board member(s) designated as liaison for the group (see below).
  • Do nothing that brings ISTR into disrepute.
  • Promote ISTR, particularly in active recruitment of new members.


To pursue their interests consistent with the Society's mission, ISTR encourages members to associate and collaborate in any number of ways. The basis, or identity', of member 'affinity' and self-chosen collaboration could be, for example, geographic (other than the recognised ISTR regional networks). Affinity could also be derived from disciplinary, thematic or topic interests. Activities undertaken by interest groups do not require ISTR membership of all those likely to be involved or to benefit. (Naturally, the Board would hope that new membership is one intended outcome.)

ISTR is not assured of having unrestricted funds or secretariat capacity to guarantee support to proposals for member-based initiatives. Consequently, each application will be considered on a case-by-case basis. In doing so, recognition and any start-up assistance will be guided by the following considerations.

  • That the purpose clearly advances the Society's objectives.
  • That the applicant(s) have sufficient expression in terms of member interest or potential for wider positive response.
  • That there is a reasonable prospect that the initiator(s) can mobilise the resources necessary to function for a reasonable period, ideally for at least 3 years.
  • That there is an individual or institution acknowledged as responsible for the group and point of reference for communication to the Secretariat and Board.
  • That the initiative will and can conform to ISTR's guiding principles.
The Board does not wish to make an application process overly arduous. Itwill work on a basic assumption of trust with respect to members'intentions and the information they provide.

Rights and obligations of Affinity, Study, Thematic and other Member-initiated groups

Recognition as an ISTR affinity or other member-initiated group brings with it a number of rights and obligations.


ISTR networks and recognised groups are entitled to following:

  • Use of the ISTR name in communications, fundraising and other activities.
  • Access to ISTR mailing lists
  • Reasonable space in ISTR publications.
  • As seed finance, a claim on undesignated funds that ISTR may have available.

In their functioning, ISTR networks and groups are expected to:

  • Function in accordance with ISTR's vision, mission and guiding principles.
  • Designate an individual or institution as the point of reference for communication to the Secretariat and Board.
  • Adequately involve any Board member(s) designated as liaison for group.
  • Do nothing that brings ISTR into disrepute.
  • Promote ISTR, particularly in member recruitment.

Requests for ISTR recognition or support will be treated by the Board in the following way.

A preliminary one to two page request will be considered by the Board Executive as and when it is submitted. The enquiry should briefly state:

  • The intended purpose and its relevance to ISTR's vision, mission, and five year plan.
  • Any selection criteria for participants (see section on Exclusion below) and intended process of application.
  • The methods to be employed.
  • The likely duration.
  • Benefits that should accrue to who.
  • Type of support requested from ISTR in terms of Secretariat assistance and/or finance.
If there is a prima facie case for ISTR support or recognition,the applicant would be asked to submit a detailed proposal. The contentwould, essentially, be an elaboration of the preliminary enquiry includingresponses to any queries that had been raised.

Depending on cost and other implications, the Executive could:

  • make a decision to be later ratified by the Board; or,
  • make a recommendation to the next full board meeting.

The applicant would be notified of the committees recommendationas soon as it is made. In case of rejection with reasons, the applicanthas the right to make a direct appeal for re-consideration to the fullboard.

If approved, through the next ISTR publication, members would be notified of the group or the initiative.

Subsequent communication to and from the Board would primarily flow through the designated Board member (with copies to the Secretariat). In collaboration with the network or group organiser(s), the Board member would be expected to provide a brief summary of activities and progress at each Board meeting.

The Board and Executive Committee do not meet frequently. To expedite decisions, it would therefore be helpful if those applying for assistance or recognition provide a sufficiently comprehensive explanation of their ideas, paying particular attention to how the initiative would adhere to ISTR's Guiding Principles.


It is to be expected that many member initiatives will be based in one way or another on a shared 'group identity'. In other words, collective action will inevitably have an element of (self-selecting) inclusion and exclusion. However, selectivity should not be in conflict with ISTR's Guiding Principle of non-discrimination. To help the Board contextualise and test this general principle in each case, those requesting ISTR recognition or support are expected to provide selection information. For example, if an initiative is intended to be of specific use to African scholars, or to directors of Third Sector Research Institutions, a submission requesting ISTR recognition or support would need to:

  • Explain the relationship between the Society's scholarly, knowledge, education or strategic objectives, the specific purpose of the initiative and corresponding relevance of and justification for participant selection.
  • Set out the criteria to be adopted for selection and invitation.
  • Specify the process to be adopted to operationalise the criteria.

The Board is aware of differences and conflict within regions of the worldthat may affect participation in ISTR-related events. However, as ascholarly society, ISTR will not adjudicate on international conflicts andwill require that the principle of non-discrimination is adhered to. Thisobviously applies to events run under the auspices of recognised ISTRgeographic regions. Following the principle of inclusion, no restrictionshould be placed on participation of those indigenous to, specificallyworking on, or with a demonstrated interest in, the Third Sector in theregion. For affinity, thematic and other recognised groups, theinitiators of ISTR-related events should be open to all those interestedin participating, relying on self-exclusion due to lack of interest inwhat the group is undertaking. Members of the Board are available forconsultation if, for example, over-subscription requires imposing limitsto participation.

In all cases, consideration for individual support from ISTR, such as scholarships, would be restricted to those most closely fulfilling the justification for the event. For example, ISTR's current strategic objectives would prioritise assistance to researchers indigenous to developing counties, over 'guest' researchers from elsewhere working in the region or on the topic of concern.


As a matter of policy, each regional network and recognised ISTR group will have a Board member designated as a link to the governing structure. The Executive Committee of the Board will oversee the application and approval process for member initiatives. This arrangement is meant to provide the following functions:

  • Effective communication to and from the Board.
  • Speedy response.
  • Ongoing oversight in terms of ISTR's reputation and legal responsibilities.
  • Recognised point of reference, adjudication and source of advice for network and group organisers.
  • Consistency in interpretation of policy.
Organisers of networks and other ISTR groups are expected to activelyshare information with their designated Board member and invite theirparticipation in events or activities.


ISTR is dedicated to helping members explore areas of common interest and concern. To this end, through its Newsletter and biennial conference, ISTR will provide space for 'initiatives in the making'. The objective is to enable members to make their interests known to others and, hence, gauge the degree of member and wider support. This may or may not lead to a subsequent proposal for recognition and assistance to an ISTR group.

Members who wish to make use of ISTR's Newsletter or conference to explore new initiatives are invited to send a short outline of what they intend to the secretariat. Requests will be dealt with by the Secretariat and Executive Committee in three ways depending on their implications.

For notification in the Newsletter, the Secretariat would use its own judgement, seeking subsequent ratification from the Executive.

If recommended by the Executive, ISTR would cover reasonable initial costs of requests for more active secretariat involvement, for example, mailings outside of the ISTR membership. In principle, the costs involved would be recovered from a resulting ISTR recognised group.

For allocation of a 'slot' at an ISTR biennial conference, the Executive would make a recommendation to the conference organisers. Bearing in mind the pressure on conference time, it is unlikely that more than two slots could be made available at a conference. The final decision on slot allocation between contending requests rests with the Board on the advice of the conference organisers. Priority will be given to 'initiatives-in-the-making' that are considered to: a) benefit the largest number of ISTR members, or b) make best use of ISTR's comparative advantages in furthering the Society's mission of advancing Third Sector scholarship.

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