Who really cares? Find out by mapping your stakeholders

The most important piece of advice in Jason Saul’s The End of Fundraising is that we must raise money from people who truly value what we have to offer. As a result, we must all go through the important exercise of identifying the stakeholders who will realistically be interested.
The author defines stakeholder as “any person or entity who has a bona fide expectation of results from your work. By bona fide, I mean legitimate: based on either a contractual, an ethical or a fiduciary obligation.”
Begin by mapping your stakeholders you have identified through these questions: Who cares most if we succeed or fail? Who has a vested interest in our success? Who influences our strategy or agenda? To whom must we report our results?
Next, conduct one-on-one interviews and sometimes focus groups to help identify what stakeholders’ expected outcomes are. These questions will help tease out what they value:

What outcomes do you value most about our work?

How would you define success for the work we do?

Do you think we were successful last year? If so, why? If not, why not?

What’s the ultimate impact you value from our work?

What do you think the project needs to accomplish in one to three years to achieve this longer-term impact?

What data or evidence would you need to see that would convince you our work has been successful?

What type of information do you need from us to demonstrate the value of our relationship?

Is there anything we haven’t discussed that you would like to add?

Now you can define your outcomes, which will be the foundation for value in the social capital market. Again, be careful not to define your activities. Instead, prioritize outcomes from your various stakeholder interviews, focus on those within your grasp and draft each one using active verbs to convey change over time (e.g., grow, improve, reduce, etc.).
Next, you can develop measures that demonstrate your organization’s contribution to these outcomes or ask how much of this outcome you can deliver. Effective measurement in the social capital market involves knowing the difference between:

Activities versus outcomes: Activities describe your program efforts while outcomes are the changes that result from those activities—awareness, behavior, condition or status.

Evaluation versus measurement: Although most evaluations are meant to answer, “Does the program work?” on an absolute basis, performance measurement is designed to ask “How well is it working?” In short, measure relative contribution to an outcome.

Good measures and bad measures: Good measures are credible (believable and accurate), practical (reasonably available, not abstract) and relevant (pass the “so what?” test and are useful in explaining outcomes).

Do you know who your stakeholders are? If not, try Jason Saul’s exercise and find out. For more information about selling your impact, purchase this book at JosseyBass.com, visit Jason Saul’s website at www.MissionMeasurement.com or visit our Page to Practice library for a complete summary including our interview with the author.

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