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Introducing the voluntary sector
Introducing the voluntary sector

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1 Who are stakeholders?

Many coloured hands.
Figure 1 Voluntary organisations have many stakeholders

The stakeholder approach to looking at an organisation’s priorities originated with business and management theories in the 1960s. The term stakeholders encompasses many different people and groups who have an interest in how well an organisation is run, including a business’s shareholders who obviously want a return for their investment. When we apply the term stakeholders to voluntary organisations, it has a similar meaning but the stakeholders are different.

Therefore, stakeholders are individuals or groups that have a ‘stake’ in, are affected by or can have an effect on an organisation. In the context of the voluntary and community sector, this often means those who have an interest in how well an organisation addresses the needs of its clients or service users – a key stakeholder group. However, if you look at the concept of stakeholders more closely, you will be able to identify other organisational stakeholders inside and outside the organisation: volunteers, board members and employees, for example, as well as donors, funders and policy makers. Stakeholders will often have different perspectives on an organisation – what its main priorities should be and how effective it is, for example.