Stakeholders and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) play crucial roles in pressuring local governments to vote or influence local decisions that align with their values and objectives. They engage in various activities such as conducting research, organizing campaigns, and raising public awareness to influence public opinion and policy-making. By leveraging their expertise, networks, and resources, they aim to shape local decisions in favor of causes they support, whether it’s environmental protection, social justice, public health, or any other area of concern. Through constructive dialogue, lobbying efforts, and public pressure, stakeholders and NGOs seek to create positive change, ensuring that local governments consider the needs and aspirations of the community while making critical choices that impact society as a whole.

What Do Stakeholders Do?

Stakeholders, also known as NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and Special Interest Groups, generally have a source or hub outside of your local community. You’ll see them locally as the varied groups which might identify as protecting or advocating for a specific feature, policy, building, group, etc.

Typically these are groups related to the environment. In your community, you likely have varied groups which represent a river, lake, stream, forest, mountain, etc. These would be community stakeholders. It’s also common to have some economic stakeholders, like business associations. It’s important to note that stakeholders are not a ‘bad’ thing. Stakeholders are simply a group representing another group, item, place, thought, etc.

The purpose of these groups is to act as a singular voice to be more efficient when trying to advocate for their cause. In most cases these groups have a newsletter and perhaps a website, Facebook group, or some way for the public to engage. When your local council needs to consult for community input, they may reach out to some of these stakeholders to gain information about that specific topic.

As example, if you have a local forest and some community members who use it, and wish to care for it, may start a local group dedicated to the forest. Over time they reach out to council for funding to upgrade paths, apply for grants to add stairs or railings, and eventually are seen as the sort of ‘keepers’ of the forest. If your local council intends on making some changes near the forest and believes the forest may be impacted, they might reach out to the group for their input. 

Why Are Stakeholders Important?

Stakeholders are a double-edged sword, for lack of a longer explanation. They are crucial to filter a lot of feedback and views to your local council. If you’re able to combine a variety of thoughts, input, skills, and public input into a singular motion, it’s very effective when working with a local council. A one-stop-shop if you will, when your local government is making changes to a particular community feature or group.

This can work against you of course, because stakeholders appear to have more power than individual voices. When someone speaks to your local council representing a group or community, it holds more weight. Stakeholders are not regulated, they aren’t official, and they have little to no accountability. Other than simply being around for a while and claiming to do things. Therefore, in assessing the trustworthiness of a group, it is crucial to consider public opinion as an essential barometer of their reputation and legitimacy in the eyes of the community they serve. Building and maintaining trust with the public is vital for any group or organization seeking long-term success and positive impact.

How To Become a Stakeholder.

If you are a member of a local group which has a similar mission statement, you may consider making it official with a newsletter, group, website, or even presenting your group to your local council. This ensures you have a voice with your local government, which may serve you better than just your thoughts or opinions to your local government.

After you have collected a few members, whether it’s in a newsletter or written on a napkin, you should launch something that combines your thoughts. A simple Facebook group, a website, anything that shows your intent and you can post a few updates related to your projects goes a long way.

When you’re ready, you can write your local council and request a deligation. Deligations are a 10-minute presentation where you can present your group and intention to your local council. This ensures they can ask you questions about the group, you can educate the council on what you intend to do for your community. It also helps to email council with your updates, bring them into your projects, and let them know what you’re working on. You may be surprised at the support and welcome you receive. People on the council (mostly) ran to represent the community. They are typically more than happy to actually see this taking place.