Do you ever go through a period where you find yourself using the same words or phrases repeatedly? I’m having one of those weeks. The specific word that keeps making its way into my vocabulary is “stakeholder.” In the last few days, I have worked with clients to identify stakeholder groups, designed stakeholder surveys, analyzed stakeholder input, and shared stakeholder feedback.
As someone who has had a lifelong fascination with language, I decided to look up this word that has become such a part of my lexicon. I found variations of the following:
A stakeholder is a person, group, or organization that has an interest or concern in something.
Overall, stakeholders are vitally important to all the work we do at Armstrong McGuire. We solicit stakeholder input to inform assessments and guide plans. We use stakeholder feedback to create position profiles and evaluate leadership candidates. We even evaluate ourselves using data collected from our own stakeholders.
The most effective organizations request feedback from their stakeholders to help determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. They use stakeholder perceptions to drive messaging and stakeholder needs to define direction.
Connecting with your stakeholders is not only about gathering information; it’s a way to deepen existing relationships and build new ones. Listening to stakeholders is an opportunity to show them that what they think matters. And reacting to stakeholder feedback can keep an organization relevant.
Depending on the organization and its function, stakeholder groups vary. However, the list below is a good starting point to determine your stakeholders.
- Governing bodies – boards of directors, advisory boards, and local councils – who are responsible for oversight and strategy
- The organization’s staff and contractors
- Service recipients and program participants
- Funders, including grantmakers, government agencies, and fee-for-service reimbursers
- Donors, especially those who have made significant gifts or given consistently over time
- Partner organizations
- Members, if you are an association, church, or other member-driven organization
- Vendors and service providers
- Event participants
- Associations or groups your organization is a member of
- Groups or individuals you are not currently serving, but who would qualify for your services
- The community at large
Listen to your stakeholders. You’ll be glad you did!
(By the way, the word stakeholder was used 23 times in this post.)