A key stakeholder is someone who can help your planning effort succeed or fail – the person who has information you need, or other important resources for solving the problem – access to money or legislative or regulatory “fixes.” Getting and keeping key stakeholders on board is one of the most important aspects of any project.
All of these stakeholders must have access to information regarding community-based planning and believe – to sustain their involvement – that the process will either benefit them individually or better the community as a whole. This, like creating an infrastructure to support the planning process, will foster long-term commitment and institutionalization of collaboration.
How Can You Identify Key Stakeholders?
It is critical to identify and define “key stakeholders” – officials and groups from all levels of community and government, including:
♦Those living the problem from the ground level – local community members and leaders.
♦Those with access to power – state and local elected officials, and funders.
♦Possessors of technical knowledge – those with justice background, planning and community mobilization skills, access to information and training about planning, promising programs, etc.
♦Local investors – other groups and individuals with access to material resources whose support is necessary to the initiative’s success and implementation, such as the business community, civic groups, and state and federal lawmakers.
Once You’ve Identified Key Stakeholders, Then What?
Do not underestimate the importance of leadership as a way to keep key stakeholders engaged in the planning process throughout the duration of the process. Some ways to demonstrate leadership include:
♦State Officials: A commitment from key state officials such as legislators, the attorney general, and the governor is key to this implementation. If legislators are on board, the legislation they craft can be implemented consistently with the longer-term goals and objectives of a community-based planning approach. The governor’s prioritization of these efforts helps state agencies work together to blend the funding streams they administer so communities are better able to plan comprehensively, across traditional categorical boundaries. The attorney general can provide the impetus for coordination and communication or for blending funding streams if part of the jurisdiction of that office.
♦Local Officials: Not only must local elected officials be on board with respect to decision-making and funding decisions and how they could shape a community-based plan, but local-level agency officials – both criminal justice agencies and allied organizations – must be committed to and strong advocates for collaborating on this issue.
♦Community Leaders: Community leaders must be willing to come together and share power and responsibility for setting community priorities on a broader, more comprehensive level. This commitment must be sustainable.