Community-level stakeholders are individuals with an interest in a project, or individuals who will be affected by a project. This level of stakeholder is usually linked to a community by living or working within a certain area.
Some examples of community-level stakeholders include: household heads, parents, business owners, community workers and representatives from Indigenous groups. Community stakeholders will be able to provide first-hand knowledge on how an issue affects members of the local population on a daily basis. This information can be used to strengthen project proposals and funding requests. Personal stories from this level of stakeholder provide a ‘human voice’ to an issue which can help with lobbying and advocacy in later project stages. Community stakeholders may choose to act as champions for the project through sharing their personal experiences with a wider audience made accessible through a project. Further, community stakeholders can give feedback on the acceptability and feasibility of project plans in relation to their local community, potentially providing suggestions which can inform project development and implementation. The inclusion of community stakeholder impact from the early stages of a project helps to ensure that stakeholder needs and opinions are reflected in the project. This enhances the likelihood of success by ensuring that the project is considered suitable by those it impacts upon.
Community-level stakeholders may be hard to identify as they may not have a public profile or any online presence. If your project is in another state or country, you may have to organise site visits in order to identify and engage with them.
Some methods to identify community-level stakeholders include canvassing community groups, local health care facilities and businesses, accessing online groups (Facebook, blogs, online forums), approaching local government and unofficial representatives.
- Community-level stakeholders have a good understanding of the local environment and context, and have knowledge of available local resources.
- They can provide guidance on what they think will be acceptable to other community members.
- The insider knowledge they have helps with planning project details such as timing, participant recruitment methods and project location.
- Community-level stakeholders who feel engaged may work harder to garner support for your study and ensure it is implemented thoroughly.
- Community members may assist with recruitment, volunteer their time and donate resources if they see the value in the project.
- Community level stakeholders can be hard to identify and engage with.
- They may be resistant to your study or project and try to hinder implementation if it conflicts with their values.
- They may not have access to online communication methods so in-person site visits may need to be made.
- Time constraints and commitments to their community or personal life may prevent or deter them from engaging with the project.
- Their level of influence will usually not extend beyond the local community.
- Community-level stakeholders can differ greatly according to location; there may not be a one size-fits-all process for identifying them.
Community level stakeholder identification should be completed for every project. It is most appropriate to complete this on-site, within the target community, in partnership with local community services and organisations.
Guide to maximising community-level stakeholder engagement (Webinar - requires flash player)