Every non-profit organisation has a board, committee or some type of management team; how many of these have representation from their stakeholders – the people they represent? 

Some organisations I’ve recently spoke with have said they don’t, that it wasn’t something they’d considered. Others were more blunt, perhaps shocking even; they said things like “what’s the point”, “how could they be of use?”. 

Whether it’s ignorance or oversight as to why “user stakeholders” aren’t included in the ‘management team’, that they’re not part of the ‘working group’. Whatever the reason I think this needs to change. 

At the very least “user stakeholders” they need to have a sense of being part of what you do, not just to receive the benefits, this would go a long way to building self esteem amongst some, a sense of belonging, a sense of ownership – get the drift? 

Imagine not just using the ‘image’ of someone in the community you help, but having them as part of the team that helps with the running of the organisation. Wouldn’t this be good for the overall vision, the overall dynamic of the organisation? 

I’d suggest that at minimum organisations (helping people) should hold a focus group meeting at least annually, at this the vision for the next period could be presented, “user stakeholders” would  then have the opportunity to voice their opinion. 

You’d likely be surprised what you might hear. Don’t be surprised if you hear people say “we don’t want to be seen like that” – or – “ why don’t you do such and such”. 

You never know what people are thinking unless you ask, you don’t know what people can offer unless you ask. What have you got to lose? 

By including everyone in your processes, your decision making you are likely to have respect and understanding of what you are doing. 

I once heard a story relating to malaria and the distribution of malaria nets. In short people who were simply given malaria nets were less inclined to use if for what it was given, instead using it for fishing. Those, who paid a token price for the nets used them for what they were for. Incidentally, I did find out that the communities who ‘paid’ for their nets had a lower incidence of malaria over a period than those who were simply given them. 

Next time you’re sitting round your boardroom table, think about the people you’re there to help, are they at the table with you? If not, why not? And when will you change this? 


© Sebastian Kaulitzki |



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