C4D: Understand and engage stakeholders

What is it?

Stakeholders are people, community groups and institutions with a stake in the C4D initiative and the associated research, monitoring, evaluation and studies. It is important to ensure their active participation before, during and after the evaluation. In cases where this is not possible, one alternative would be to involve representatives who can advocate on their behalf.

General information

The main page on Understanding and engaging with stakeholders provides a detailed description, methods and advice of a general nature. This page is a recommended background reading before considering methods to apply to C4D.

Applying the C4D principles 


This task is a foundational task when taking a participatory approach to R,M&E of C4D. A participatory approach, as advocated in the C4D Evaluation Framework, is dependent on good understanding of stakeholders and on meaningful and active engagement with them in planning, framing and implementation. This sets a foundation for a 'transformational' level of participation in R,M&E.


The stakeholders in complex social change processes may be a changing group of people. Their ideas, motivations, priorities, commitments and openness to adaptive C4D action may also change in response to the changes in the social system. Stakeholder mapping processes can help with engagement, especially where there are multiple stakeholders with different values and information needs.


To effectively implement the C4D Evaluation Framework, a receptive organizational and community context and culture is required. Staff of organizations at all levels and relevant community members need to be willing to engage in constant reflection and learning from R,M&E in order to continually develop and improve organisational systems and C4D initiatives. This is dependent upon meaningful stakeholder engagement in the beginning and continuing throughout implementation.


Ensure an equity lens when thinking about stakeholders. Make sure you are not just working with the easy-to-reach groups. Think about differences in voice and power within each stakeholder groups. While the inclusion of representatives can be a good way to ensure integration of marginalised voices it can also be problematic. Are representatives truly representative or are there differences in power and class within the group they represent? Is there a risk of wealth-bias, literacy-bias, roadside-bias and other biases identified by Robert Chambers?


As part of understanding and engaging stakeholders it can be useful think about accountability in a multi-dimensional sense, including accountability to donors (upward accountability and reporting), and accountability to colleagues, partners and collaborators and communities (horizontal accountability).

Recommended methods and adaptations for understanding stakeholders in C4D

General stakeholder mapping methods

Mindmap with sticky-notes

  • This is a more visual process for stakeholder mapping. It is useful when identifying stakeholders is more difficult, and you need to work with partners in participatory and visual ways to unpack interconnections and perspectives. It is consistent with the C4D Evaluation Framework in the following ways:

Borrowing the concept of 'Boundary Partners(/Actors)'

  • A key concept in Outcome Mapping is the 'Boundary Partners', sometimes referred to as 'Boundary Actors'. Boundary Partners(/Actors) are a subset of an initiative's stakeholders. Boundary Partners(/Actors) are the people, groups, or organisations that are directly engaged in the initiative, and who can be influenced through the initiative, and who in turn can influence outcomes that are outside the control or influence of the initiative. Focusing on Boundary Partners(/Actors) is consistent with the C4D Evaluation Framework in the following ways:


Recommended methods and adaptations for engaging with stakeholders and C4D

General stakeholder engagement methods

Understand stakeholders

Engage stakeholders

Adapting C4D approaches

  • C4D practitioners will already have many skills and techniques for facilitating communication and engagement, and these can be adapted for use with R,M&E stakeholders, including colleagues and partners. 

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