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Grant Management: Building Stakeholder Engagement

Updated: Sep 24, 2020

Inclusion is a hot topic and buzzword in business and business relationships, and that includes the philanthropic sector. For grantors, and grant management, bringing in a wide range of stakeholders is not only key to the project’s success but is often a requirement of the grant itself.

“Funders are increasingly realizing that much of the knowledge and experience we need to solve problems resides in the communities we serve,” writes GEO, a nonprofit of grant makers for effective organization.

In other words, having buy-in from the local community for a grant project means bringing in individuals and organizations to engage in the project’s goals.

For grant project managers, this means:

  • Identifying all stakeholder people, groups and organizations.

  • Analyzing their stakeholder expectations.

  • Effectively engage them in project decisions.

Who exactly is a stakeholder?

The simple definition of a stakeholder is someone who has an interest in your project. For grant management, a stakeholder is a person involved in the grant project, and also a person who will be affected by that action. These may include:

  • Internal stakeholders

  • Grantees

  • Grantmaker peers

  • Local community members

  • Local community organizations and community groups

  • Thought leaders and experts

That covers a fair amount of ground so, working with your project management team to determine who the stakeholders are for a particular grant is the first step in building stakeholder engagement.

Identify your stakeholders.

Ask yourself: Who will be positively or negatively affected by the project? Who is likely to express concerns? Who has been involved in the past when addressing similar concerns as the project? Who can help the project address specific impacts of the project goals? And, finally, who can affect the ability of the project meeting its goals?

Next, identify key stakeholders—those individuals and organizations that can determine the success or failure of the project. Key stakeholders may control or influence the project budget, give permission to move forward with the project, are directly impacted by the project and help remove roadblocks to the success of the project. Everyone else on the list is considered a secondary stakeholder.

Create a Stakeholder Register and Assessment.

Now you are ready to create a living document that lists all stakeholders, and their organization, position and role in the project. In a best case scenario, each stakeholder should also have an assessment that includes the individual stakeholder’s expectations, potential influence and where in the project phase their interest lies. Use this to identify stakeholders for each phase of the project and to track their “output” or effect on the project.

Benefits of engaging stakeholders.

Creating a stakeholder register and assessment, and then involving stakeholders in each phase of your grant project, is a big investment in time and resources. However, the pay-off can be substantial.

At Boost Midwest, we find that the right stakeholders being involved helps give a deeper understanding of the problems and possible solutions the project is meant to address. They can help provide an accurate sense of the needs and challenges facing the grantee. The more diverse your team’s list of stakeholders can be, then the easier the buy-in for the project and it’s goals will become and the more successful the implementation will be long term.

Finally, when it comes to transparency and accountability, having a core group of stakeholders helps bring key decisions from behind closed doors into the open. If decisions aren’t communicated effectively, how can outsiders judge whether the project management is being done effectively?

Our team at Boost Midwest, will share tips and tricks on communication with your project team in the coming weeks, so be sure to stay tuned.


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