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Introducing the voluntary sector
Introducing the voluntary sector

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3.1 Managing stakeholders in the voluntary sector

As with many organisations, charities and other types of voluntary sector organisation will practise similar strategies to those just outlined. Certain groups’ needs can be addressed with minimal resources and services while the primary target communities will be supported with additional resources. A project may be designed to address one particular need among many, with partners providing ancillary or support services. Organisations may be dependent on other organisations in the sector to address stakeholders’ needs they are unable to meet – thus balancing their own independence with a wider range of services.

Activity 5 Brixton Splash

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

Read the following example of a street festival. Make notes on who you think the stakeholders are and what strategies (satisficing, sequencing, trade-offs) the organisers might have used when they first set up the organisation and to get the festival going.

Brixton Splash is an annual free street music festival in Brixton, London, which started in 2005. It is organised by a community organisation and uses volunteer stewards on the day. It currently has funding from the Arts Council and has had funding from Lambeth Council in the past. Its aims are:

  • To promote and celebrate African-Caribbean heritage and culture, and its influence in the local area and beyond.
  • To promote equality and diversity for public benefit through an inclusive festival that will foster understanding and harmony between people of diverse backgrounds.
  • To advance education in music, arts, heritage and culture through a festival and outreach programme that will bring people of diverse backgrounds together for the appreciation and celebration of African-Caribbean culture and Brixton.

We celebrate our community’s diversity, its progress through the years and the fusion of numerous ethnic groups that now call Brixton home, by creating a cultural explosion proudly specific to our location and history. We successfully balance welcoming those who are just discovering Brixton with those who have always believed in Brixton’s unique identity, throughout the years. We remain loyal to and proud of our Afro-Caribbean heritage which has defined our community since the Windrush generation of the late 1940’s and 1950’s.

The Festival is a celebration of community cohesion, vibrant inner city living and Brixton’s contribution to the wider world. Brixton is currently the go-to area in London to enjoy everything culinary and creative with big name businesses moving to the high street and entrepreneurs developing the markets.

Lambeth is one of the most diverse boroughs in the country, with over 130 languages spoken. Brixton sits in the heart of the borough and is a bustling hive of activity. There is a strong history of music and the creative arts and numerous cultural groups are based in the area.

Our Festival is free for everyone, operates between midday and 7pm on the first Sunday in August every year and has become a premier event in the London Events Calendar.

Each year we improve and enhance the content of our event to build on its success and broaden its appeal.

(Brixton Splash, 2015)
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The stakeholders include:

  • the local community
  • local businesses
  • volunteers and staff
  • Lambeth Council
  • the police
  • visitors to the event from outside the community
  • sponsors.

Clearly, organisers of events like this must have to deal with a lot of competing interests. You may have thought of some of the following issues:

  • Satisficing strategy: as live music is a major part of the festival, it might be that some local residents would not appreciate the music as much as others. These community members are still important stakeholders and so organisers need to limit the hours that live music is played during the day and into the evening – or where it is played – in order to avoid inconveniencing these residents.
  • Sequencing strategies: these have probably been used as the festival has grown over the years. Available resources in the first years might have limited the number of stalls or services provided, and as resources grew, these services and events during the festival could grow too.
  • Trade-off strategy: the organisers would need to collaborate with the Lambeth police and, in fact, in the early days of the festival the police trained the stewards. This would help to address a number of stakeholder interests: the community would be engaged in ensuring the event was safe, and local police would be able to ensure safety without a large police presence. Community members would see friendly local people if any problems emerged. In the early days of the festival, the organisers were keen to see the event move the community forward from its ‘infamous’ reputation of the 1981 Brixton riots.

As in this example, you might find that one or two of the strategies are particularly useful while others are best used at a different time or with a different set of stakeholders. However, it is useful to think about the different approaches you might take when working with a given set of stakeholders.