Topic 1 Recognise key factors and people in delivering social projects

What is stakeholder mapping?

Stakeholder mapping is a process undertaken to understand the landscape that will inform the development of projects to address social issues. To deliver meaningful projects that are commercially viable and of social value, it is critical we gain an understanding of what issues people face within their community in order to design and deliver appropriate actions. When mapping stakeholders, the following four categories can be used to encompass the wider spectrum as detailed below:

Government (Local/regional/National & International) holding a range of budgets to provide support and services to society, it is important to engage with elected members and officers if social enterprises are to act as delivery agents and be commissioned to do so.

Non-governmental organisations (NGO, Charities and Social Enterprises). Often partners and supporters of social Enterprises that deliver projects and programmes of social benefit, especially if it connected to the NGO’s own aims and objectives.

Business sector – increasingly, businesses are becoming more aware of the need to play its part in address social issues, many businesses give to social projects through trusts.

Citizens (residents, workers, service users, participants, volunteers etc.) it is critically important that any social actions projects are co-designed and engage at a grassroots level, this in fact should be the starting point to any meaningful project.

Example of a Social Enterprise group of Stakeholders

Freeman, R.E (1984)

Who are Stakeholders?

Each social enterprise has a unique set of stakeholders – those who have a direct or indirect interest in the work of the organisation. Stakeholders may include employees, customers, beneficiaries, local leaders, funders and supporters, and many others. Stakeholders are those individuals or groups who depend on an organisation to fulfil their own goals and on whom, in turn, the organisation depends. There are many such stakeholders in a large organisation as outlined in the above diagram, and it is essential that social entrepreneurs know key stakeholders so that they can network with and communicate with them effectively:

In order to determine how to approach and manage these diverse groups, which sometimes have different and conflicting interests, a systematic mapping method may be useful. Stakeholder mapping identifies stakeholder expectations and power and helps in understanding priority groups. The power/interest matrix below suggests a model whereby social entrepreneurs can consider those stakeholders who have an interest in their enterprise and whether they have the power to influence the enterprise (positively or negatively).

One way to conduct stakeholder mapping is to use the grid pictured above. The axes of this grid are interest and power. Stakeholders with high interest would include those who are particularly active in their support. Those with high power are those who have profound influence over the work of the social enterprise.

The combination of interest and power determines the best approach toward these diverse groups:

  1. Low power, low interest: Monitor with minimum effort
  2. Low power, high interest: Keep informed of your work
  3. High power, low interest: Keep satisfied to ensure continued support
  4. High power, high interest: Manage closely to maintain a strong relationship

Stakeholder mapping should also involve conducting secondary research through outlets like trade magazines, industry studies, LinkedIn profiles, job descriptions and other social profiles. This research helps to build a profile of a social enterprise’s key stakeholders and should detail the ‘backstory’ of each detailing name, occupation, what your enterprise can offer them and obstacles you may face. Putting your key stakeholder insights into practice ensures your key stakeholder profiles become central to your overall marketing strategy. Getting to know your stakeholders will allow you to walk in their shoes and truly understand what drives them to make the decision to buy from or work with your social enterprise.

You should use them every time you prepare any kind of stakeholder communications, written, spoken or otherwise, and use them to inform every aspect of your marketing. Your key stakeholder profiles should be central to your overall marketing strategy and you should aim to identify four or five strengths and put together unique key messages that are likely to resonate with each stakeholder. This helps you build targeted marketing messages and, ultimately, boost your enterprise’s impact.