Stakeholder Engagement in Non-profit Work example

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Stakeholder Engagement in Non-profit Work

Does size matter? Are larger non-profit organizations (NPOs) better and more effective than smaller NPOs, or, is it the other way around?

After an objective evaluation of reports and articles written on this subject, it seems that both large and small NPOs share similar problems and challenges. They also bring their unique strengths that actually complement each other to achieve the greatest impact among its beneficiaries.

The bottom line of any NPO is to be able to have a positive impact in their respective target population, and deliver its vision, mission and the promises they have committed to their donors, beneficiaries and other partners.

In order to achieve this, NPOs need to have the “buy-in”, support and commitment of all major stakeholders.

This paper will attempt to define who are the stakeholders that NPOs commonly and should collaborate with on a regular basis. It will also explore strategies to increase participation, clarify the extent to which these partners can and should be included in decision-making to maximize impact to beneficiaries. Finally, this paper will also present lessons learned and best practices by NPOs in terms of maximizing participation.

The Importance of Stakeholder Engagement

“Stakeholders” play a determining factor in the success (or failure) of an NPO’s ability to deliver on its promises. They should be consulted with and involved from the beginning - as early as project design, from assessment to program prioritization and as late as monitoring and evaluation and re-design (Aapaoja, Haapasalo, & Söderström, 2013; OECD, 2015).

Who are the Stakeholders?

A “stakeholder” is an individual or a group that has an interest, investment, or is affected by a non-profit’s mission. NPOs generally work with the following groups of stakeholders: beneficiaries, donors and funding source, employees, community and volunteers, government organizations and other non-profits (Fritz, 2017; NPO Central).

Stakeholders can also be classified as internal or external. Internal stakeholders are those who work with the organization, like the employees, board members and the different departments that work within the same organization. External stakeholders are all the other partners that are not a part of the NPO itself.

Stakeholder Dynamics

The author believes that to optimise stakeholder participation, it is important to have a deeper appreciation of all these stakeholders, individually and collectively as a whole. This means getting to know each partner’s values, what is important to them, what their priorities are, who they can work with, their strengths and weaknesses, beliefs, fears and experiences that may either support or hinder cooperation.

NPOs usually undergo a very rigorous “stakeholder analysis” at the start of the project where they take into account all the factors that may promote or hinder participation, cooperation and commitment.

For instance, on an individual level, one major challenge of most NPOs is its ability to retain experienced and qualified staff as they leave non-profit work for better opportunities working in the public or private sectors that relatively provides better compensation (Cohen, 2010). These employees may still believe in the cause but can no longer afford to survive on …

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