1. Establishing Your Mission /

1.3. Identifying ‘stakeholder’ expectations


We understand the expectations of the people we are accountable to.

To meet the standard in full, you can list the people and groups who have the most interest in your work and who you are accountable to. (Examples include board members, funders and the people that pay for and benefit from your work.) You understand clearly the expectations and needs of each of these ‘stakeholder’ groups.

Social enterprises are accountable to lots of different people. Often referred to as your stakeholders, these people have a big part to play in shaping the purpose of your organization and its expected impact.

Your organization is likely to have different stakeholder groups. Some examples are:

  • Government agencies
  • Grant funders
  • Social investors
  • Suppliers
  • Regulators
  • Beneficiaries
  • Paying customers
  • The wider community

It can helpful to spend some time coming to a fuller understanding of your stakeholders, their interests, and their expectations. There are usually three steps.

  1. Start by identifying your stakeholders. Think of all the people who are affected by your work, who have influence or power over it, or have an interest in its success.
  2. Then prioritise your stakeholders. Within each stakeholder group, some will hold more power and influence than others, making them a higher priority. Categorise them according to their power/influence over your work and their interest in it.
  3. Finally, take time to explore your stakeholder expectations. Explore what motivates your priority stakeholders and what they expect from your organization.

Where possible, try to develop a full understanding of what matters most to your stakeholders, as this has important implications for the mission your social enterprise pursues, the people you serve, and the impact that you will need to achieve and measure.

Course 1 in the Impact Practice series from the Social Enterprise Institute provides further tools and templates to help define and manage stakeholder expectations.