Mining companies need effective social performance functions. Meeting international, national, and local obligations; improving the nature and depth of the interface between companies and communities; and creating an environment where social change isunderstood, anticipated and responded to in a meaningful way; all depend on companies accessing, embedding and utilising social performance expertise. In a context where companies may be looking to build, or rebuild, their communities and social performance capability after a period of cutbacks in this area, it is important to ensure that the resources devoted to the task are well spent. This paper sets out the factors that companies need to consider if they are to establish, and maintain, the foundations for effective social performance. Without these foundations, technical excellence in social performance will not be achieved.