Nonprofit governance is a political and organizational process involving multiple functions and actors. This chapter discusses the centrality of stakeholders, i.e., the myriad of actors both inside and outside the nonprofit organization who have an interest in what it does and how it does it. We begin with a review of stakeholder theory and its use in nonprofit governance scholarship, including a discussion about stakeholder salience, i.e., the degree to which different stakeholders are important to an organization’s strategy and decision-making. We next seek to advance our understanding of nonprofit governance by asking a basic, yet critical question: who really governs a nonprofit organization? We employ the construct of the dominant coalition to examine this question more closely by examining who among the myriad of stakeholders and principals might be playing a powerful role in the governance of their organization, and why and how do they do so.
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