Have you ever considered the audiences you have as a Vincentian and especially as a Vincentian leader? Whether you are a Conference or Council President, a member of a Board of Directors, serve on a Committee or are an active or associate member of a Conference there are a number of people to whom you are accountable, are your audience, or have a stake in what you do and how you do it. We call these people “stakeholders.”
In for-profit companies the finances are mainly of interest to those who own the corporation or those interested in becoming owners. Nonprofit corporations, however, have many “owners,” also known as stakeholders. This week we’ll discuss five of these groups and next week an additional five.
- Those They Serve
Let’s talk about these one at a time:
Members are stakeholders. In the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, most Vincentians consider their work to be a vocation. They believe in the mission and have invested heavily with their time, talent, and resources to help achieve it. More than that, it is often their very way of life.
The needs of those served make them stakeholders. For example, our Society’s mission is carried out by supplying people in need with services and goods they require to live a decent life. In many cases our help is the difference between the abject poverty of living on the street or the peace of having a place of their own in which to live.
Our Society’s work goes beyond food, shelter, clothes, furniture, etc. When life circumstances such as illness, job loss or poor decisions fall heavily on a person or family, Vincentians can bring hope, share our spirituality, and provide at least for basic needs.
Donors make our work possible. They want to be sure their donations are used to achieve the greatest amount of benefits for the program to which they contributed. Even though they know it is not possible, they would like every dollar they give to go directly to those in need.
Donors give of their time and money because they believe in what we do and how we do it. They want to find a way to give to the poor or make a difference in someone’s life. Our Society and the way we operate gives them confidence that their support will achieve their desires to help those in need.
Volunteers are closely aligned with any nonprofit, especially ours. They desire to contribute to those in need and to give back to the community for their own good fortune. They see the Society as a well-run organization that knows how to reach those in need and assist them. It is not uncommon that a volunteer will eventually become a member.
Employees work for any corporation or business to provide for their own needs. In our Society they become our partners in our mission. More than that, they become believers in our work and who we are. We expect them to present themselves to those we serve and the public in the same way a member does. They are often so involved that you find it hard to separate them from our Vincentian members.
They are true stakeholders because they both support and foster the mission and because they need to earn a living. Some may even be willing to continue to work for less than they can earn elsewhere. The Society has a responsibility to pay a living wage and provide necessary benefits. All members of the Society must ask: How can we live out our mission to help others if our own employees are underpaid?
The source of this article is Governance: Council and Board, the original version of which was authored by former National Vice President Terry Wilson.