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5 Strategies for Effective Stakeholder Management

In his recent post, Bill Shore urges nonprofits to pay more attention to their stakeholders, because no nonprofit organization is capable of achieving the change it seeks all on its own. While most nonprofits understand the importance of keeping stakeholders engaged, we’ve seen many nonprofit leaders become overwhelmed with the “when, which, how often, and …

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In his recent post, Bill Shore urges nonprofits to pay more attention to their stakeholders, because no nonprofit organization is capable of achieving the change it seeks all on its own.

While most nonprofits understand the importance of keeping stakeholders engaged, we’ve seen many nonprofit leaders become overwhelmed with the “when, which, how often, and how” of stakeholder engagement.  Our clients often ask us for help in figuring out how best to manage stakeholder engagement.

In our work with nonprofits, we have identified five key strategies for effective stakeholder management:

  1. Develop a comprehensive list of people and/or organizations that have the ability to impact your organization or issue. Positively or negatively. Both are important.
  2. Segment your stakeholders based on your understanding of the degree of their ability to impact your desired outcomes (high, medium, or low).
  3. Assign “owners” from your organization to manage each high value stakeholder based on their level of potential impact. Who should manage “high impact” stakeholders? They should likely be assigned to the ED and Board members. What about “low impact” stakeholders? They could be great candidates for your e-newsletter.
  4. Determine a timeline for regular communications with your key stakeholders to make sure they are always up-to-date on what they need to know to support your organization’s goals. Work to minimize the time you spend focused on those who are not in a strong position to help you achieve your goals.
  5. Tailor your key messages to align your interests with theirs. It’s not all about you!

Nothing written above is rocket science.  And that’s the point. When managing your organization’s stakeholders, you want a clear and simple process that can help you prioritize potential actions and determine your immediate next steps.

To create the social impact you want to see, you’ll need to continually build external champions, co-conspirators and activators. Staying mindful of managing how you build this network of stakeholders will keep you focused and sane.  And, in the end, will likely leave you with a more robust and more productive network.

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