Stakeholders

The involvement of stakeholders is a key part of building a city’s service initiative. As you begin setting up the internal process and building support for the service initiative, you considered the investment necessary to build relationships with community intermediaries to identify the broadest pool of stakeholders in your city.  The following three sections—assessing needs, mapping assets and planning for action—involve varying levels of stakeholder input, citizen review and feedback. 

 

Identifying Stakeholders

Stakeholders can be defined as people or organizations that are concerned about, affected by, have a vested interest in, or are involved in some way with the issue at hand.

Key questions

NOTE: In exploring the questions below, think about the various issues you already know are critical for your city, such as education, environment, jobs, health, and public safety. Then consider which groups within your city have a stake in those issues.

  • Who has a stake (positive or negative) in the critical issues affecting your community? In service and volunteering in your city?
  • Who is most affected by the problems or issues affecting your city? Who is concerned? Who may have different views?
  • In relation to the issues or problems, who are the opinion leaders in the community?
  • Who is best able to help solve the problem or resolve the issue?
  • Is there a person who could “champion” the project for us?

Helpful Hints for Identifying Stakeholders

  • Stakeholders may include:
    • community groups
    • industry or business associations
    • environmental groups
    • local councils
    • government departments
    • public and private schools/school systems
    • colleges, universities, and trade schools
    • youth groups
    • senior citizens’ groups
    • politicians
    • residents
  • Intermediary community groups, identified during the capacity-building segment, can help identify a broad pool of stakeholders.
  • Online resources, such as Guide Star and the National Human Service Assembly can help you identify your local nonprofit organizations.
  • Stakeholders can be identified through basic online searches or even by looking through the yellow pages.
  • Ensure that stakeholders represent your targeted groups. Targeted groups are those you identified through the key questions above.

Click here to download a form to help you through this process.

Working With Stakeholders

To successfully work with stakeholders, you will need to answer the following questions:

  • What do the stakeholders know, feel, want, believe, and value in relation to the problem or issue?
  • What are the threats, risks, costs, and benefits for the stakeholders?
  • Who are the community opinion leaders for groups within your stakeholder network?
  • What are stakeholders’ main concerns about the issues? What are the differences in the stakeholders’ concerns about issues? What are the areas of common ground and benefits for various stakeholder groups?
  • What roles do you want stakeholders to play, or what types of involvement do you want stakeholders to have in the initiative?

Involving Stakeholders

  • Stakeholders may be involved through:
    • steering or advisory committees - groups that guide the work of the initiative, usually comprised of working group chairs.
    • working groups - groups with responsibility for specific aspects of the work, e.g. assessing community needs and priorities.
    • surveys – provide an opportunity to reach very large segments of the community, while requiring limited commitment.
    • newsletters – provide a mechanism for keeping constituents informed; they should include a feedback mechanism.
    • personal meetings – may be used by project managers to engage opinion leaders or by intermediary community groups to engage citizens at the community level.
  • Identify the key players or main stakeholders to fill specific positions within the project. Designate in advance some of the potential positions you want these key players to fill.
  • Make stakeholders your allies. Set up your project as a partnership with the key stakeholders. You can do this in a variety of ways, from keeping the stakeholders involved in every step of the process as a partner to simply ensuring that they are kept informed and given the opportunity to comment.

Roles for Select Stakeholder Groups

Think creatively about the multiple roles that some stakeholder groups may play in the initiative. Some of these groups  are public agencies, nonprofits, business, and colleges/universities. Below are a few examples of the ways these groups can help.

Action
Public Agencies
Nonprofits
Businesses
Colleges/Universities
Serve on committees
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Provide access to research data
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Conduct original research
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Broker relationships with groups
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Knowledge of Community Assets
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Provide large facilities for meetings
Yes
Yes
Own Technology used for Virtual Meetings
Yes
Yes
Yes
Provide pro bono professional services
Yes
Yes
Provide project management*
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Provide access to large audiences/citizens
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Provide access to volunteers
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
* Project management – To create a service plan, you’ll need to have several project managers to coordinate the various aspects. Public agencies, nonprofits, colleges, and universities are often engaged in work to alleviate problems affecting citizens. These groups may provide project managers for areas that fit into their work. Some businesses may even lend an executive to assist with the project.

Be aware that colleges and universities can provide invaluable assistance with the needs assessment, asset mapping, and action planning processes. They typically have the following assets to offer:

  • A research department that has experience conducting original research.
  • Students to provide free or low-cost business services such as marketing and web design.
  • Service-learning programs with students eager to learn by participating in service activities.
  • Work-study students, a percentage of whom must be dedicated to community service activities.
  • Student clubs, many of which have service as part of their mission.
  • Students interested in developing career skills such as the planning, research, outreach, and marketing necessary to develop a service plan.