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Stakeholder voice and impact management project

Impact Management

Stakeholder Impact

Step by step stakeholder survey & analysis tools.

What is Stakeholder Impact Analysis?

Stakeholder Impact Analysis is thoughts, beliefs, needs, feedback, etc. communicated by individuals defined as stakeholders for any given impact area. 

Principally, social sector stakeholders are the target beneficiaries of an intervention, although in general terms a stakeholder is any individual or entity that stands to be affected (positively or negatively) by the activities undertaken by an organization. The following content focuses on those beneficiary stakeholders who are essential to any impact-creating ambitions.

Why is it important to listen to stakeholder voice?

The success of an impact-driven initiative is nearly always bound by the extent to which those that are designing and implementing the initiative take into account the perspective of key stakeholders, especially those beneficiaries who are the reason for the initiative. Here are a few reasons why raising those voices is so important:

  • Program Design: Before execution of an intervention there must be a design process which ensures there is a need for the activity, and that it is honed to the needs, resources, schedules, etc. of beneficiaries. In short, it must pass the, “Is it feasible?” and, “Will it be effective?” tests. While success is never a certainty, involving beneficiary stakeholders in the design process can ensure a greater probability of positive outcomes. Because local knowledge will often reveal contextual nuances which will be key in the creation of a program or other intervention.
  • Managing Risk: Understanding how local beneficiaries live, the particularities of their culture, and what difficulties they encounter in their day-to-day not only serves to improve program design, but also serves to illuminate potential negative externalities an intervention could cause or exacerbate. Defining those possibilities early on and planning for any eventuality can help ensure they do not come to pass or, if they do, ensure that those effects can be mitigated. Demonstrating commitment to this area can also help build credibility with local communities.listen to stakeholders
  • Assessing Impact: Understanding whether impact is indeed being created is almost impossible without taking into account what stakeholders are telling you. Sure, you can measure how many hours of activities you performed or how many products were delivered, but without bringing beneficiaries into the impact conversation, it will be difficult to determine the extent of the impact created (positive or otherwise).
  • Relationship Building: Rarely do we create an intervention, implement it with our target community, and then leave. Because driving impact is usually a long-term endeavor, it is essential that long-term relationship-building efforts are included in the project scope. Buy-in from local leaders and communities as a whole will also increase the chance of program success, while also simply being the caring, human thing to do!

Stakeholder Impact Assessment

Natural Language Processing has come a long way in recent years and is now being applied to capture impact insights from beneficiaries.

Qualitative analysis, for example asking beneficiaries questions and recording their long-form responses for later analysis (using surveys, interviews, etc.), is time-intensive and not quite a hard science. And yet, stories can be a powerful tool to understand the depths of impacts perceived by a beneficiary group. The key is to be able to transform those narratives into quantitative impact evidence. This is where the marriage between artificial intelligence and natural language processing comes into play.


Stakeholder Scorecard


Sopact’s Impact Cloud, an end-to-end cloud-based impact data management tool, gives users the capacity to harness such technology.

Artboard – 1@2x-1

Uploading qualitative responses to the tool enables impact practitioners to easily conduct keyword sentiment and emotion analysis and transform qualitative data into quantitative. 

In this way, from impact narratives full of stakeholder sentiment practitioners can glean important impact insights.

The Benefits of Shared Insight

Shared insights are those impact learnings which are determined in collaboration with target beneficiaries. These insights go beyond traditional outputs such as number of beneficiaries affected to revealing how those beneficiaries were affected, taking into account their own perceptions of impacts generated.

Shared insight can also refer to the open-sourcing of impact data and impact learnings across impact organizations and across sectors. Taking a more collaborative approach to how we wield impact data can ultimately help impact initiatives globally, if impact players share analyses, insights, and outcomes achieved. If you are interested in such collaboration, take a look at the Fund for Shared Insight.

fund for shared insight

Tips for leveraging constituent voice and constituent feedback

As with any activity your organization performs, it should be done with a clear strategic purpose, not just because it seems like something you should do. With that strategic perspective in mind, here are a few ways to make sure you leverage those interactions with constituents.

  • Keep it periodic, but not constant. 

    For most beneficiaries, you don’t want to completely invade their life with requests for data. Doing so can lead to overwhelm and have an adverse affect on their willingness to be a part of that process. Ask yourself, given the impact outcomes we are targeting and our program design, when are key moments we should be “checking in” to get feedback from our beneficiaries? Of course, if it is unclear, ask the beneficiaries themselves!

  • Have an analysis plan in place.

    You conduct dozens of interviews and even more online surveys. Great, but what are you going to do with those data? Do you have the expertise to analyze it properly? The time? Program design shouldn’t just be about creating an effective intervention, it should also include how you will hold yourself accountable to making that intervention an effective one. Because if you are ultimately unable to utilize constituent feedback to assess and improve, you run the risk of wasting not just your time and energy, but that of your beneficiaries as well.

  • Tell stakeholders how it helped you!

    A great way to achieve buy-in from stakeholders in terms of their willingness to be a part of the data collective process is to explain clearly how such data will be used. And most importantly, follow up with those communities after analyses have been conducted to show how constituent voice contributed to understanding the impacts created and potential design improvements moving forward.

Stakeholder impact analysis

A stakeholder impact analysis can be conducted at a variety of times throughout the life of an intervention. At the outset, such an analysis serves to support the feasibility testing and initial design. During and post-intervention these analyses serve to assess impacts created and eventually how to improve the intervention design.

According to the Impact Management Project, there are five key dimensions of impact which should be taken into account in any stakeholder-centered analysis (seen below).

five dimensions of impact

Source: Impact Management Project

Qualitative vs quantitative analysis of stakeholders

It is important to distinguish between the two main types of analyses available to impact practitioners. A quantitative analysis takes raw numbers and calculates outputs, determines probabilities or percentages, and enables practitioners to make inferences based on those results. A qualitative analysis primarily takes data from subjective self-reporting of stakeholders and uses various methods to extract insights.

A breakdown of the differing data types can be seen below, taken from a recent report on using self-reported data:

social value international stakeholder report

Source: Using Self-reported Data

When to use a quantitative vs qualitative evaluation

A quantitative approach is best used when there is specific, precise, and easily obtainable information that can be collected from a stakeholder group. For analyses that seek to compare between time periods (for example, before and after), or between groups (for example, an experimental and control), quantitative approaches are often the most useful. In addition, in evaluating outputs and frequency of activities, a quantitative approach is usually the most feasible.

A qualitative evaluation assesses contextual factors, usually from the subjective view of primary stakeholders themselves. Qualitative approaches take into account how such individuals evaluate their own experiences and potential impacts perceived. This approach is best used when the objective of the evaluation is to assess needs, desires, and expectations of a group, as well as how they feel about impacts generated.

Stakeholder impact analysis template

While there is no one way to conduct a stakeholder analysis, there are, of course, best practices to be followed and common tools which can be used to get the most out of the time invested.iris+ stakeholder voice report

For a useful introduction to the processes involved in raising stakeholder voice and how to do so effectively, we recommend reviewing “Using IRIS+ to Incorporate Stakeholder Voice,” a report published by the Global Impact Investing Network (which takes the investor engagement perspective). But it will also help general impact practitioners in any role, especially those wishing to dive further into the world of standardized metrics (IRIS+), which can be essential in various types of analyses of stakeholders as well.

Here are a few of the key takeaways of the report to get you started effectively incorporating stakeholder voice:

  • Transparency: Be clear about why you are doing things the way you are doing them (or the way you intend to) and ask stakeholders for feedback in a way that is authentic -- in other words, build trust by actually using that feedback and reporting back. 
  • There is no one-size-fits-all approach: Context. Context. Context. Be aware of just how much beneficiaries are willing and able to be a part of your analyses. Take those contextual cues directly from them and plan your engagement accordingly.
  • Embrace an open-source mentality. The learnings you glean from those hard-earned moments with stakeholders, and subsequent analyses, may help other organizations make better decisions from the outset of an initiative and enable the social sector at large to operate more effectively and efficiently.

Stakeholder Voice Organizations

If you are looking to dive deeper into the topic for your own research or are looking for expert consulting or to explore collaboration opportunities, the following organizations maintain stakeholder voice as a key principle of their work.

Feedback Labs

Feedback LabsEssential to raising stakeholder voice is making sure that in addition to opening up that conversation with them, organizations also analyze those data and put insights to work to create better interventions and ultimately better outcomes. That process is exactly what the non-profit organization Feedback Labs seeks to foster across the social sector.

Founded in 2013, Feedback Labs works to create standardized metrics which assess how organizations are doing in conducting feedback-related work. They also promote the development of tools, trainings, and events to further strengthen the field.

Social Value International

seven principles of social valueSocial Value International brings together a global community (45 countries) of impact practitioners to promote better practices in social value measurement and analysis and to influence policy. Its driving goal is to improve the way we account for social value. As part of their knowledge-sharing approach, they developed seven guiding principles of social value, the first of which is defined as “Involving Stakeholders.”

This as the first principle underscores the importance of stakeholder engagement in the social value measurement process. As discussed above, it is essential that primary stakeholders are involved in, or at the very least informed about, what is getting measured and how.


keystoneThe Keystone team are experts in everything to do with managing feedback and getting the most out ofthose interactions with constituents. In addition to consulting services, they offer analyses of your existing measurement systems, diversity programs, and more. Their Constituent Voice tool can help organizations get the most out of those feedback data and the Feedback Commons provides tutorials to help practitioners improve how they manage those processes. You can find their full page of resources and guides here.

60 Decibels

acumen 60 decibelsA social enterprise created by Acumen and based in its Lean Data approach, 60 Decibels aims to both improve adoption of Lean Data approaches across sectors and also introduce what they hope will be the new standard for impact measurement across sectors as well. This standard puts stakeholder voice at the forefront of the measurement process, emphasizing the importance of a beneficiary’s “lived experience.” The enterprise seeks to solve impact measurement issues (comparability, for example) faced by the impact investing sector and to ultimately improve outcomes through better measurement that is stakeholder centric.

Stakeholder Voice Resources At Sopact

  • Impact Manager

    For impact investors, grantmakers, social accelerators/incubators, Development Finance, international development & public agencies, this powerful cloud-based tool is not just an impact data management resource. It could also be called a comprehensive stakeholder management tool because of its numerous integrations and accessible cloud-based interface which allows for seamless integrations across teams, no matter where they are or how technical (or not) their training.

Stakeholder Voice Resources on the Web

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