Someone recently asked us how to effectively manage stakeholder engagement as part of the strategic planning process for a non-profit. They wanted to launch a new strategic plan and get engagement from their stakeholders so that their strategic plan would last longer than the terms of the existing board members.Stakeholder engagement is a huge topic that includes: gathering and sharing information, dealing with concerns and grievances from your stakeholders, measuring the impact and importance of different stakeholder groups, communicating back and forth through various methods, and more.
I'll just be covering the basics today, and if you want to be kept in the loop of future articles, you can subscribe for blog updates.
First, a few notes and requirements before you reach out to your stakeholders:
- If you want the stakeholder engagement piece to "stick" it needs to be a core part of your business process.
- The stakeholders need to be contributing to something greater than themselves.
- Make the engagement a key part of the project.
- The leadership needs to be driving the stakeholder engagement
- Take a long-term view. You are building relationships.
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How do you incorporate stakeholder engagement as part of your strategic planning process?
1) Identify the diverse stakeholder groups as part of your environmental scan before you begin the strategic planning process.
- Who is going to be impacted by your project? (be as diverse as possible)
- What are their interests in the project?
- Are the direct and indirect stakeholders?
- Who are the most important stakeholders?
2) Identify who the stakeholder representatives are.
- Who are the individuals that you need to talk to as part of each stakeholder group?
3) Create a system to solicit their feedback.
- Set a calendar of steps and outreach as part of your action plan. (systemize it)
- Seek multiple levels of communication from the organizations. (Staff, board, etc)
4) Incorporate their feedback into your strategic planning process
- Use their feedback and concerns to create your strategic priorities.
5) Report back
- As part of your implementation and communication plan and go back to your stakeholders and show them what you came up with.
- Look at them as strategic partners to help you achieve your goals.
- Be transparent with your information
As part of your project plan establish the frequency and amount of information different stakeholders need.
If you incorporate stakeholder engagement into business as usual and look at your stakeholders as strategic partners, you'll have a greater likelihood that the initiatives and collaboration will continue beyond the term of your current board.