Stakeholder Impact Analysis
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. However, 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 LISTEN TO STAKEHOLDER VOICE?
The success of an impact-driven initiative is nearly always bound by the extent to which those 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 intervention, there must be a design process that 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 creating 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 a commitment to this area can also help build credibility with local communities.
- Assessing Impact: Understanding whether the impact is being created is almost impossible without considering what stakeholders are telling you. Sure, you can measure how many hours of activities you performed or how many products were delivered. Still, 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, long-term relationship-building efforts must be 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!
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 invade their life with data requests completely. Doing so can overwhelm and hurt 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 for 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 collection 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 ANALYSIS PROCESSStep by step guide
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).
Source: Impact Management Project
EFFECTIVE STAKEHOLDER SURVEY
Stakeholder Analysis is critical for understanding Impact Outcomes. Building a useful stakeholder survey is difficult and a must. What is Social Impact? As a mission-driven organization, how do I understand my Social Impact? How can I manage social Impact effectively?
To understand any impact on people or the planet, data is needed across five dimensions of Impact. The following article will discuss how you can build an impact evidence-based due diligence survey that aligns with five dimensions of Impact based on the Impact Management Project and Lean Data approach from 60 Decibel. This approach is relatively new and provides a great start if you begin to establish an impact measurement process for your projects. According to the impact management project, to effectively measure and understand the Impact, data needs to be collected across all five dimensions.
Learn Step By Step Example
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 different data types can be seen below, taken from a recent report on using self-reported data:
Source: Using Self-reported Data
When to use a quantitative vs. qualitative evaluation
A quantitative approach is best used when specific, precise, and easily obtainable information 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. Also, 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 the needs, desires, and expectations of a group and how they feel about impacts generated.
STAKEHOLDER IMPACT ANALYSIS TEMPLATE
For a useful introduction to the processes involved in raising stakeholders' voices 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.
Here are a few of the key takeaways of the report to get you started effectively incorporating stakeholder's 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 an authentic way -- in other words, build trust by actually using that feedback 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 exploring collaboration opportunities, the following organizations maintain stakeholder voice as a key principle of their work.
Essential to raising stakeholder's voices 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 that assess how organizations conduct feedback-related work. They also promote the development of tools, training, and events to further strengthen the field.
SOCIAL VALUE INTERNATIONAL
Social 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, primary stakeholders must be involved in, or at the very least informed about, what is getting measured and how.
The Keystone team are experts in everything to do with managing feedback and getting the most out of those 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.
A social enterprise created by Acumen and based on its Lean Data approach, 60 Decibels aims to improve adoption of Lean Data approaches across sectors and introduce what they hope will be the new standard for impact measurement across sectors. 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 improve outcomes through better measurement that is ultimately stakeholder-centric.
THEORY OF SCALING IMPACT BY CONTINUOUS LISTENING
Can we build a healthier, more equitable world by frequently looking back on our programs? Alternatively, we understand and improve while serving. Unless you actively learn and manage social change, it isn't easy to scale. We often focus on social return on investment to justify the program's social and financial benefit and its effectiveness. Impact justification is not the continuous learning of Real Social Impact. Big questions everyone is faced today are,
- How can I demonstrate the social impact?
- How do I know that I measure the right social impact?
- How can I scale the social impact?
Join us for the discussion of challenges and solutions to scaling impact.
STAKEHOLDER IMPACT RESOURCES
- Using self-reported data for impact measurement (report)
- Impact Management Project
- IRIS+ to Incorporate Stakeholder Voice
- The Case for Stakeholder Engagement
- Engaging All Affected Stakeholders: Guidance for investors, funders, and organizations (World Economic Forum)
- Listening to Those Who Matter Most, the Beneficiaries
- Can Stakeholder Reviews by Beneficiaries Bring New Perspectives to Philanthropy?
- The Surprising Truth Behind Beneficiary Feedback
- Systems Change Should Lift Up Beneficiary Voices
- Listening to the Voice of the Beneficiary