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Ethicore’s recommendations to the IUSSP


In early 2016, the IUSSP received an Organizational Effectiveness Grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to help the Union reassess its business, fundraising and communications strategy. This comes at a time when the Union is facing difficulties in securing core funding and project funds from government sources and donors such as UNFPA. While the IUSSP also receives income from membership dues and conference registration fees, this revenue is not sufficient to support operational costs. The IUSSP must diversify its funding sources and develop a sustainable business plan to ensure the long-term viability of the Union and its activities. 


With this in mind the IUSSP hired Ethicore, a consulting agency based in the United Kingdom that has conducted consultancies for associations similar to the IUSSP. As part of their consultancy, Ethicore examined IUSSP finances and activities and held stakeholder interviews with donors and members. The membership survey sent to members last spring also provided the consultants with useful information. Ethicore completed their preliminary report and recommendations this past July and the IUSSP Council vetted those recommendations in September. 


Ethicore noted that IUSSP had a solid international reputation for promoting quality demographic research through its members, scientific panels, and seminars and conferences, but that the IUSSP needed to do more to heighten awareness of the Union and population research. 


They recommended that the IUSSP become more proactive, promoting the field of population by focusing on policy-relevant topics and working across disciplinary boundaries to make the relevance of demography and population research more visible to those outside the discipline. 


Ethicore’s key recommendations include the following: 


  • Maintain the International Population Conference (IPC) as a high-level event attractive to donors and sponsors, developing sponsorship packages to assure adequate funding. 

  • Increase the number of high-level events such as thematic conferences between IPCs, organizing these when possible in collaboration with other organizations (e.g., regional associations or associations representing related fields – sociology, economics, statistics, and public health, etc.), and funding these through registration fees and sponsorship packages. 

  • Be more inclusive of other related disciplines as a way to promote the contributions of demography and population sciences on a range of issues that crosscut disciplinary boundaries. 

  • Actively reach out to other organizations and disciplines and include them in IUSSP activities. This means possibly setting up some form of organizational affiliation to provide more formal recognition of partners working in the population field. 

  • Build capacity of and engage the next generation of demographers by giving junior demographers (PhD students and recent PhDs, pre-tenured faculty) and those involved in applied work a more active role in informing the IUSSP agenda. The Council is considering ways to ensure that future IUSSP Councils include more junior colleagues. 

  • Increase income from projects to cover core costs by focusing on topics and themes of policy relevance and interest to donors. Working with members of the IUSSP Council and the scientific panels, Ethicore is currently exploring thematic areas that could be developed, including: Big Data and the data revolution, climate change and health, population ageing, and international migration.


These new activities would increase the IUSSP’s visibility and outreach, attract new members and lead to better retention of current members by offering a wider range of activities and resources. The results, if achieved, would mean that the IUSSP would be better able to fulfill its central mission to promote the scientific study of population. 


Implementing this programme will be a challenge. It will require investments in fundraising and communications. It will also require the active participation of IUSSP members in these future activities. The IUSSP Council hopes members will contribute their suggestions and ideas and encourage their colleagues and students to participate in these activities and join the Union.