Introducing the voluntary sector
Introducing the voluntary sector

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Introducing the voluntary sector

1.1 Stakeholders in voluntary organisations

As you learned in Week 2, voluntary organisations and their missions are underpinned by values – values that you might assume are shared among an organisation’s stakeholders. However, this is not necessarily the case. Take a look at Figure 2. These are just some of the stakeholders you might be able to identify for a particular voluntary organisation.

Described image
Figure 2 Illustration of a voluntary organisation’s stakeholders (Source: adapted from Figure 1.1, Freeman et al., 2007, p. 7)

The inner circle of the diagram – directly circling ‘The organisation’ – depicts the primary stakeholders. These are individuals and groups that have a direct, specific interest in how the organisation is run, its mission, its effectiveness and other day-to-day issues.

The outer tier depicts the secondary stakeholders, who may also have an interest in the organisation but perhaps not as directly or as specifically as those in the inner tier. Of course, secondary stakeholders can also take a direct interest – for example, in the case of organisational partnerships, the partners will want to ensure that partnership commitments are being upheld by the organisation.

Activity 1 Mapping stakeholders

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes

Watch this video of Matthew Slocombe, Director of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), talking about his organisation’s stakeholders. Make notes on who the stakeholders are and then decide where they will fit on Figure 2.

Download this video clip.Video player: volb1_wk5_activity1_matthew_ou_pro_res_master_edited.mp4
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Well, the SPAB stakeholders are very complicated. We mean different things to lots of different people. So at the core of the society is its membership. These are people who feel strongly enough to sign up, to pay their annual subscription, and to be an active part of the SPAB.
Beyond that, though, many others would be considered stakeholders. There are local planning authorities who receive advice from us. There are the building professionals who are looking to us for information and help in many ways. And the general public who may come across us through something like National Maintenance Week, or just come here to our HQ at Spital Square to find out more about the organisation on an open day.
So we engage as far as we can with all these people, and try to provide them with the information they want. The society’s most important stakeholders are its members, both those who are enthusiasts, participate in the range of activities we put on, but also the professionals who come to us for the information and advice they need in their daily work. But beyond that, it’s vital that we’re providing information to local planning authorities who need our input very often in order to make suitable decisions on changes to listed buildings.
In the case of local planning authorities, the challenge of working with them is very much about persuading them that we have an expertise that will assist their decision making and democratic work. It’s all too easy to rely upon accounts of the decisions and views that may be perfectly important, but are not necessarily expertly based. So we bring to the system that kind of expertise. And it’s just a challenge to persuade people that we have something to contribute, it’s free advice, and it should be useful to the whole process.
End transcript
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Matthew talks about the members being the core stakeholders so these would be put in the ‘primary stakeholders’ circle. Members pay their annual subscription and many actively participate. Although Matthew does not specifically mention staff, volunteers or trustees, these would be categorised as primary stakeholders.

Matthew also identifies local planning authorities, building professionals and the general public as stakeholders. In some cases, these groups approach the SPAB for information; in other cases, it is the SPAB who is targeting groups as part of campaigns to get the conservation message across. Local planning authorities and building professionals probably fit onto the boundary between the primary and secondary stakeholders. The general public are secondary stakeholders.

Activity 2 Mapping your stakeholders

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

Make a list of the primary and secondary stakeholders of an organisation with which you are familiar. This can be an organisation where you work or volunteer, or one that you have come into contact with in your community.

You might like to create a stakeholder diagram, similar to Figure 2 and Activity 1, to depict the stakeholders you identify.

What similarities and differences with the SPAB did you note and why?

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You probably found both similarities and differences – depending on the size of the organisation you chose, as well as what field it is in (e.g. health and social care, environmental, hobby or sports and so on). You might also have found that Figure 2 made you think more widely about the people who might have an interest in your organisation.

These activities will have helped you think about who the stakeholders are in voluntary organisations. Next you will look at the power and influence different stakeholders have.


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