Using Stakeholder Analysis to Boost Your Membership
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By Paul Hanscom, CAE, Director of Business Development

Does your organization have trouble identifying new sources of membership? What does your widget makers association do after you have contacted every widget maker in your area to become a member? One option is to perform a stakeholder analysis of your organization.

Stakeholder analysis is a tool used to:

  • Identify groups that have a potential interest in your organization’s activities;
  • Distinguish the particular incentives for different stakeholders in your industry;
  • Assess the strength of stakeholder support (or opposition) to your organization’s agenda; and
  • Target ways to match the needs of your stakeholders with the benefits you offer members.

The process begins by developing a list of all individuals and organizations that have a linkage to the services you offer. Using the example of a teachers association, this list would include not only the teachers themselves but also suppliers of educational products, youth program leaders, representatives from the department of education, and community education staff. Remember that stakeholders can include any entity with an interest in what your organization does and who your organization serves.

The next step is developing a list of interests for each of the stakeholders in your list. Why would this individual or organization benefit from membership? Do these stakeholders have interests that you are not meeting but that are consistent with your organization’s mission? How do the operations of your organization (events, publications, etc.) affect these stakeholders positively or negatively?

Now that you have identified the stakeholders in your industry and the reasons they have a vested interest in your organization, you are able to assess which of these stakeholders is critical to your success. Is there one stakeholder who is strongly opposed to a particular initiative your organization is taking? How significant is this stakeholder’s involvement in your industry and your organization specifically? Which stakeholders hold the greatest influence over others?

The last stage of the stakeholder analysis is to review how the services you provide to members match up to the stakeholder interests you have identified. Are there disincentives to membership that your organization can actively reduce? Are there services you offer to members that do not match stakeholder interests? What can your organization offer to this stakeholder that provides membership incentive?

What service do you perform for the industry that your stakeholders cannot go without?

A complete stakeholder analysis can provide you with both a targeted list of prospective members and a thorough understanding of the important role that your organization plays in the industry. You will be able to recruit and retain members more effectively when you know exactly whom to target and when you can clearly articulate the value that membership adds to their business or career. There are more potential members out there. Stakeholder analysis can help you find them.

For more information about how stakeholder analysis can benefit your organization, contact Paul Hanscom at


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