Our latest State of Government Affairs survey shows that many government affairs teams feel understaffed. Additionally, 32% of respondents said it’s hard to get the attention of lawmakers and other decision-makers.
So the question is: how can understaffed government affairs teams build and maintain relationships with hard-to-reach decision-makers?
That’s where stakeholders come in.
Your stakeholders come from many walks of life — they may be an employee who drives a truck for your company or a donor to your PAC. The point is: some may have existing relationships with elected officials that you are unaware of.
With Quorum’s stakeholder engagement tools, your team can survey its stakeholders to identify existing relationships amongst your network, then use those relationships to build on your government affairs strategy.
What is a Stakeholder Survey?
A stakeholder survey is a questionnaire used by public affairs professionals to understand the interests and relationships of stakeholders. Stakeholders can be anyone impacted by your organization’s work, including employees, donors, and advocates.
A stakeholder survey gathers feedback to understand stakeholder needs, concerns, and ways they can benefit your cause. This information can be used to inform your government affairs strategy and tailor your approach to advocacy and public affairs.
Why Surveying Stakeholders is Important
Stakeholder surveys are an essential tool for public affairs organizations to make the most out of stakeholder relationships. Surveys have three main benefits:
1. Understanding Interests and Concerns
Knowing why stakeholders care about your cause can help you build stronger relationships with them, leading to higher engagement.
For example, if your organization covers multiple topics, but some stakeholders only care about one, you can segment your audiences to only send them messages they care about. This reduces engagement fatigue and motivates stakeholders to take action.
2. Gauging Level of Engagement
Some stakeholders are eager to attend hill days, gather signatures, and organize events, while others only want to stay informed on the issues. Surveying your stakeholders allows you to understand where they are on the ladder of engagement, which again helps with messaging and activation.
3. Identifying Important Relationships
Lastly, surveying stakeholders can save your organization countless hours and headaches by identifying important relationships.
With 535 members of Congress and over 7,000 state legislators, it’s likely that there are stakeholders in your network with personal or professional relationships with elected officials. By surveying stakeholders, you can uncover if they are politically or socially acquainted with a particular legislator, staffer or decision-maker.
For example, one of your super advocates might have played on the high school softball team with an elected official who sits on a committee of interest. Instead of building a relationship with that lawmaker from scratch, you can lean on your stakeholders to communicate your message.
How to Conduct a Stakeholder Survey
Stakeholder surveys can be conducted in many different ways, depending on the organization’s goals and available resources.
Online surveys are an effective and cost-efficient way to gather feedback from a large number of stakeholders. Phone interviews, on the other hand, can provide more in-depth responses and allow for follow-up questions. Focus groups can be useful, but it can often be difficult to gather groups of stakeholders in one place.
Overall, the key to a successful stakeholder survey is to choose the right method and questions to get the most valuable insights from stakeholders.
Regardless of the method you choose, the steps remain the same:
- Determine the goal of your survey. Before you start making a list of questions, make sure you identify your intended outcome(s). For example, you might want to identify relationships with elected officials. Or you might want to find a key stakeholder to lead a local volunteer group. Beginning with the end in mind will help inform the rest of the survey process.
- Create a series of questions. Based on your goals, you can then come up with a series of questions. Make sure your questions are direct and to the point. Also, remember the more questions you ask, the fewer responses you could receive. Bottom line: make it easy for stakeholders.
- Distribute your survey. Next, it’s time to get your stakeholder survey out into the world. If you use a platform like Quorum, you can quickly distribute your survey to a segmented list of stakeholders and track their responses—all in one place. If you are targeting a small group, then email is an effective channel. If your survey is more broad, you could try promoting it on social media. Quick tip: As more employees are looking for their employers to take political action, it could be beneficial to coordinate with your human resources department to distribute surveys. Involving multiple departments can increase employee and employer buy-in.
- Gather and organize survey responses. If you don’t use a tool like Quorum for data collection, you might need to input survey results into a spreadsheet manually. This can be very time-consuming if you have a large number of responses.
- Analyze the survey data and take action. With a well-organized dataset, it should be easy to identify champions and critical relationships. Now it’s time to take action.
With the right tools, like Quorum’s stakeholder engagement tool, you can efficiently conduct stakeholder surveys and use that information to shape your stakeholder engagement strategy.
Stakeholder Survey Question Examples
When conducting a stakeholder survey, it’s important to ask the right questions to elicit meaningful feedback from your stakeholders. Here are some examples of questions that public affairs teams might want to ask when surveying stakeholders:
- What issues are most important to you?
- How satisfied are you with the work of our organization?
- How can we better engage with you and meet your needs?
- What are your thoughts on our current government affairs strategy?
- Who do you believe are the most influential elected officials in your community?
- Have you ever interacted with elected officials on behalf of our organization?
- Do you have any personal or professional relationships with elected officials?
- Are you interested in participating in a fly-in to Washington, D.C. to advocate on behalf of our organization?
- Do you have any suggestions for improving our communication with you?
- Are there other groups or organizations you believe we should work with to advance our government affairs goals?
These are just a few examples of stakeholder survey questions. The key is to ask questions that will provide meaningful insights into the needs and concerns of your stakeholders, as well as their relationships with elected officials and other organizations.
Manage Your Stakeholders With Quorum
Quorum’s Stakeholder Engagement tool helps public affairs professionals manage their stakeholders by providing a centralized platform to send out stakeholder surveys, track and analyze relationships between stakeholders and elected officials, and monitor stakeholder feedback and interests.
Better understanding your stakeholders’ views and relationships can help you develop targeted engagement strategies and build stronger relationships with stakeholder groups, ultimately improving an organization’s government affairs initiatives.