Updated: Sep 30, 2021
One of the most common questions we get asked when working with Boards in Community Governance training relates to the difference between Moral Owners and stakeholders. Stakeholders are the group of people with some kind of stake in the organisation – this is a wide diverse group of people and includes customers (beneficiaries), funders, staff and basically all the people that the NonProfit works or engages with.
Moral Owners on the other hand are different. They have a personal commitment to the core purpose, core values and vision of the organisation and are sold out to these.
Can beneficiaries (customers) also be moral owners ? Absolutely ! But it does not follow that all beneficiaries are moral owners by default. The following table is a useful comparison of beneficiaries and moral owners and outlines some of the key differences between the two:moral ownerbeneficiary (customer)a moral owner invests so services are available (sustaining WHY the organisation exists)a customer uses services (sustaining HOW services are delivered)concerned with long term survival of the organisationconcerned with getting needs metmoral owner believes in and is invested in this organisation (owns values, purpose and vision)a customer can go elsewhere if needs are not metmoral owner links with boards (sustaining WHO has the authority to run the NonProfit and accountability for that authority)a customer links with CEO/ executive and staff (sustaining HOW the services are provided)