In this blog, the NNSI team outlines a helpful tool for nonprofit networks to keep track of stakeholder attendance and participation in meetings. The Stakeholder Participation Tool comes from Michelle Shumate and Katherine R. Cooper’s book, Networks for Social Impact.
What is the purpose of a Stakeholder Participation Tool?
A Stakeholder Participation Tool keeps track of who attends and participates in nonprofit network meetings. Many nonprofit stakeholders are part of a network but do not actively participate. This tool can identify who is active and who is not.
Why is having a Stakeholder Participation Tool important?
Equity is a critical component of a successful nonprofit network. Too often, equity translates to tokenism: the appointment of one person to represent a large subsection of the population. True equity, however, involves consistent and equal participation by a variety of stakeholder groups. The Stakeholder Participation Tool provides a means to track the participation of all groups and correct absences to ensure true and ongoing equity.
What does the Stakeholder Participation Tool look like?
The Stakeholder Participation Tool begins with the creation of a roster to account for which organizations and individual representatives influence the network the most. The concept of measuring stakeholder influence is called centrality, and it involves quantifying participation to evaluate the stakeholders who are overrepresented and underrepresented. Once stakeholder involvement is understood, a network can group participants in a network-relevant way and evaluate what needs to change going forward.
In short, the tool involves the creation of a roster. This roster allows the network to calculate centrality, and this centrality score allows the network to compare and evaluate stakeholder involvement.
Depicted below is a step-by-step instruction manual for evaluations to conduct and utilize the Stakeholder Participation Tool.
This is what a completed roster might look like:
Adapted from Julia L. Carboni et al., “Using Network Analysis to Identify Key Actors in Collaborative Governance Processes,” Nonprofit Policy Forum; Berlin 8, no. 2 (2017): 133-45, https://doi.org/10.1515/npf-2017-0012.
In the completed roster, an X is placed next to participating organizations and citizens that substantially contributed to the discussion. The centrality score is calculated in the second to last column. The final column depicts the calculated centrality score that can provide network instigators with critical information about the frequency of various stakeholders’ participation and commitment to the network.
In sum, the Stakeholder Participation Tool provides a systematic way to quantify and understand who is and is not contributing to the network. Understanding this information can show if certain voices are overrepresented and if certain voices are underrepresented. Such knowledge can allow for intentional rectification of these disparities and a more diversified network overall.