ISO, the world's largest developer of voluntary International Standards for business, government and society, has just published a new handbook giving guidance to national standards bodies (NSBs) on how to finance their activities.

Financing NSBs – Financial Sustainability for National Standards Bodies is the latest in a series of books developed by ISO targeting developing countries and transition economies in particular, but not exclusively. Developing countries make up some three-quarters of ISO's membership of 163 NSBs.

The financial sustainability of any organization, including any national standards body, is critical. In addition, standardization activity requires revenue so that the NSB may operate effectively to meet the needs of customers and stakeholders over the long-term. Almost all ISO members are not-for-profit organizations that work to meet the standardization needs of their stakeholders and reinvest any surplus back into this activity.

ISO Secretary-General Rob Steele writes in the preface to the book, "The emphasis in this publication is on providing further information on activities, services and financing approaches for NSBs but it is not an end in itself. Organizations need financial resources to respond to the needs of their customers and stakeholders, to ensure there are robust systems and processes that make standardization activities efficient and take advantage of new technologies and allow those involved in standardization, including technical experts and employees, the training to do their job."

ISO  has therefore prepared a number of publications that cover these other aspects, including the following developed with partner agencies, such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) :

  • The ISO/UNIDO publication, Fast forward – National Standards Bodies in Developing Countries (ISBN 978-92-67-10477-59, ISO 2008) that provides good practice guidelines for the establishment and general operation of a national standards body in a developing economy. This publication deals extensively with the place of the NSB in the national quality infrastructure the responsibilities such a body should take up, the services it may choose to provide and its interfaces with relevant organizations at the national, regional and international levels.

  • The ISO/UNIDO publication Building trust – The Conformity Assessment Toobox (ISBN 978-92-67-10511-6, ISO 2009),which deals extensively with all forms of conformity assessment.

Financing NSBs is another useful addition to the above handbooks which are collectively meant to provide ISO members with the information and guidance needed to optimise their operations and to sensitize their policy-makers to the importance of standardization and conformity assessment for economic development and trade. It will be of particular interest to managers of NSBs that are in the process of development or envisaging a re-definition of their roles and operations.

This publication supersedes the ISO publication, Organizing and self-financing of participation in ISO work – Guidance for ISO member bodies, published in 1998.

Financing NSBs – Financial Suistainability for National Standards Bodies, A5 format, 64 pages, is printed in English (ISBN 978-92-67-10534-5) and French editions (ISBN 978-92-67-20534-2). It is available free of charge (fee for postage and handling) from the ISO Central Secretariat through the ISO Store or by contacting the Marketing, Communication & Information department. It can also be obtained from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). The handbook can also be downloaded as a PDF file free of charge from the ISO Website.

Financing NSBs

Information on activities, services and financing approaches for National Standards Bodies.