Development Cooperation Handbook/Designing and Executing Projects/Communication Management/Communication Planning/Identify communication stakeholders

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Stakeholders are those involved in and/or affected (negatively or positively) by the outcome and the impact of an action, project, programme.

See ⇒ definition of stakeholders and their classification.


Project team and expected beneficiaries and others directly targeted by the action intervention are key stakeholders. They are the ones who directly stand to benefit or lose from actions or who warrant redress from any negative effects of such operations.


Indirectly Affected Groups Many individuals or institutions may be indirectly involved or affected because of their technical expertise or public and private interest in actions, policies or programs, or they may be linked in some way to those who are directly affected. Such stakeholders may include different organizations, , various intermediary or representative organizations, private sector project/programme purposees, and technical and professional bodies.


We can create two main categories of stakeholders:

  • Internal Stakeholders : persons belonging to the project team. For many internal stakeholders – employees, consultants, etc. – the essential communications challenge is to generate a strong team spirit and promote improved performance. For internal stakeholders the changes for adapting to a more effective context may be felt as a threat. Therefore, the NGO leadership has to provide critical messages to these stakeholders on competitiveness, strategic intent and future opportunities in a way that is motivational, not threatening. Importantly, these communications can form the basis for front line employee education and training, while providing the cultural foundation for the kind of leadership the NGO expects from its management team.
  • External Stakeholders : project sponsors, beneficiaries, and other persons involved in and/or affected (negatively or positively) by the outcome and the impact of an action, project, programme. External stakeholders need to be addressed in thoughtful, targeted ways. Management has to develop effective communication strategies that enable the NGO to enter new markets with new strategic allies, while overcoming new competitors and gaining the favor of regulators, politicians and the media.
    External stakeholders can include:
  1. People who will be affected by an endeavour and can influence it but who are not directly involved with doing the work. In the private sector, examples include managers who are affected by a project, process owners, people who work with the process under study, internal departments that support the process, the financial department, suppliers, and even beneficiaries.
  2. People who are (or might be) affected by any action taken by an organization or group. Examples are parents, children, beneficiaries, owners, employees, associates, partners, contractors, suppliers, people that are related or located near by. Any group or individual who can affect or who is affected by achievement of a group's objectives.
  3. An individual or group with an interest in a group's or an organization's success in delivering intended results and in maintaining the viability of the group or the organization's product and/or service. Stakeholders influence programs, products, and services.
  4. Any organization, governmental entity, or individual that has a stake in or may be impacted by a given approach to environmental regulation, pollution prevention, energy conservation, etc.
  5. A participant in a community mobilization effort, representing a particular segment of society. School board members, environmental organizations, elected officials, chamber of commerce representatives, neighbourhood advisory council members, and religious leaders are all examples of local stakeholders.

According to the World Bank good way to identify appropriate stakeholders is to start by asking questions. Who are the "voiceless" for whom special efforts may have to be made? Who are the representatives of those likely to be affected? Who is responsible for what is intended? Who is likely to mobilize for or against what is intended? Who can make what is intended more effective through their participation or less effective by their nonparticipation or outright opposition? Who can contribute financial and technical resources? Whose behavior has to change for the effort to succeed? Whose behavior has to change for the effort to succeed?


Another way to get honest information is to look at what sort of information is already available on the subject. This can range from existing survey information, demographic breakdowns, or anything else that sheds light on the issue or issues we are dealing with. It can also include media reports.


Swiss sknife.png Project Stakeholder Analysis
Swiss sknife.png Stakeholder Roles and Responsibilities
Swiss sknife.png Stallholders Responsibility Matrix


During project origination we need to identify the key problems in any given situation, properly understand the nature and causes of these problems, and maximise the benefits and minimise negative impacts, we need to identify all groups likely to be affected (either positively or negatively) by an intervention. These might include:

  • Women and men living in poverty - Involving beneficiaries in every stage of the programme/project is key to ensuring we deliver programmes or projects that are relevant to their needs, effective and that result in sustainable impact. The problems that a programme or project will address should be identified and prioritised according to the views of beneficiaries, and those of their representative social organisations.
  • Programme Staff from Organization and partner organisations - Involving staff who will be working to deliver a programme of project in the Identification process will help ensure that they have a good understanding the problems facing beneficiaries and enable them to support efforts to tackle these problems more effectively.
  • Local authorities, government agencies or other stakeholders in positions of relative power - Engaging with this group of stakeholders will help build a shared understanding of the problem, and could increase their willingness to be involved and contribute.


Development organizations need to keep in consideration the fct that that there will be a number of different, sometimes conflicting, opinions and interests. In particular, it is important to be aware that beneficiaries are not a homogenous group. There are likely to be different interests and attitudes within groups, as well as inequalities and vulnerable groups (such as women, children, people living with HIV/AIDS or the disabled). You will need to think careful about how you include the voices of these groups. Failing to adequately address these inequalities can damage the effectiveness and sustainability of projects and programmes, and even exacerbate existing disparities. It is therefore vital to analyse gender differences and inequalities, and to take them into account from the very beginning of a project or programme.

Tools[edit]

Swiss sknife.png Communication Plan
Swiss sknife.png Project Stakeholder Analysis
Swiss sknife.png Stakeholder Roles and Responsibilities
Swiss sknife.png Stallholders Responsibility Matrix

Swiss sknife.png Guideline: How team members can improve overall project communication
Swiss sknife.png How team members can improve overall project communication