The murky waters of multiple stakeholders


Management of a nonprofit organisation is not a simple matter. Where for-profits can choose to use a single criteria, financial return on investment, as an indicator of success, should they choose to; nonprofits on the other hand must cater for the mixed needs of multiple stakeholders.

This can lead to strange contradictions. When all is going well, stakeholders are often happy little vegemites, we rarely hear from them. When things begin to go sour around the edges, we can find ourselves faced with a plethora of conflicting needs, desires, political partnerships, old scores to settle etc. These factors can serve to contribute to the ultimate demise of a nonprofit just as much as management incompetence.

I feel sometimes it may be too simplistic to simply state that every bad outcome is a direct result of mismanagement. Yes it does happen on someone’s watch. There is no doubt someone was responsible for an organisation and its sustainability. This shouldn’t imply the only influencing factor is management competency.

There may have been a failure of management in that they didn’t foresee emerging events that would have a negative impact, or they might not have taken appropriate remedial action at the right time. However as shown by the demise of Shorebank in the United States, it is sometimes a combination of economic, political, social and management issues, collectively that serve to bring a good organisation to its knees.

Are such outcomes preventable? Possibly not, but as i started this post by saying, when things are going well we don’t hear from our stakeholders, when things are going well the media doesn’t want a chunk of us and when things are going well there are no ill-informed rumours circulating and when things are going well our political masters don’t feel any heat and are therefore less likely to react in an unpredictable manner.

Who is responsible for ensuring all is well? Who is responsible for stakeholder communication? That would be the management team. Maybe it is that simple after all!

Those are my thoughts for the day

Let The Journey Continue

John Coxon

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About John Coxon

Principal consultant for John Coxon & Associates, a management consultancy working with boards and management teams in healthcare, aged care and not for profit organisations to develop effective strategic planning processes and social enterprise business plans
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