Stakeholder and Institution Mapping

  • Objective: To identify who plays a key role in implementing or influencing a project or key issue in gender equity, gather more information about those roles and understand sources and relationships of power.
  • Materials/Preparation: Markers, flipchart paper, tape.
  • Participants: CARE staff and partners familiar with the background, main activities, working areas, staff capacities, partnerships, donor funding, long-term strategies in women’s empowerment and the strengths/weaknesses in the organization. The ISOFI toolkit recommends a group of 4-25 participants. Alternatively, this exercise can be done with community members that represent diversity in gender (women and men), various socio-economic groups) as well as two or three relevant experts from other organizations/agencies.


As a team, questions can be used to organize discussions with staff and partners, or interviews with key informants to map key stakeholders and institutions within the context under study.

Key questions to help inform the mapping are often:

  • Identify actors (e.g. local and national government, CBOs, trade organizations, NGOs, research institutions, private sector, donors, the target and impact group, religious and clan leaders as well as other stakeholders) that may have influence or interests in regard to the impact group/assessment.
  • Who are the organizations/actors working with key issues and problems that the impact group face?

Understanding actors and institutions:

  • What are their interests, roles, relative power and capacity to participate?
  • What is their composition and is there gender balance in their membership and management? Do women and men have equal access to membership, management or employment across levels and sectors?
  • What do they do?
  • Where do they work?
  • How do they make decisions and how are women represented in the system?
  • What gender considerations do they take in their budgeting?

Understanding actors and institutions in context:

  • How do they interact with the target population or one another?
  • Where are the overlaps with other organizations? Where are the gaps in capacity?
  • How might some organizations impede the work of others?
  • What are their long-range plans for working in the area?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the institutions?


Variation - Venn Diagram Mapping


Flipchart paper, paper circles of various sizes and in two different colors (one for those who can gain from and support women’s empowerment, and another that represents those who may lose from and act as barriers against women’s empowerment.


To visually map stakeholders, a second type of institutional mapping carried out in the field can be done through venn diagrams. The approach was used in CARE Ecuador to map out which actors and institutions had a positive or negative impact with women recyclers, and also used in CARE Bangladesh’s study on women’s empowerment among female sex workers, who created the diagram below.

Related Tools

View more tools related to:

Chart showing "Key power relations in the lives of sex workers in Kandapara Brothel"

For this exercise, key questions may include:

  • Who are the local stakeholders? Do they include women, men or both? Do they include different socio-economic groups? Who are the external stakeholders?
  • How do program participants/target groups interact with organizations and institutions?
  • Who stands to gain from the development activity/greater gender equity? To lose?
  • How do the organizations work together?
  • Identify subsets of organizations:
  • What is the relative importance of these associations?
  • How are these associations linked?
  • What is their value and importance to the target population and their livelihoods?
  • What is the level of access?
  • What are the constraints to access and participation?
  • What can be done to lessen the negative impacts from promoting gender equity/our work?

This approach helps to determine the strength of institutional relationships based on their distance from and size in relation to the key population.

Finally, questions about key actors and institutions that have influenced the community/target population can be incorporated into other exercises such as personal/village histories or trend lines.

Variation - Stakeholder Mapping with Children

  • Initiate the activity by inviting participants to think quietly about all the people that they interact with on a regular basis. Who are the key people in your lives and how do you typically interact with them? How and where do you interact with these people?
  • In broadening the reflection to a group discussion, consider the three realms of home, school and community, and develop a list of people for each realm. Note that the individuals do not necessarily need to be specific; i.e., the Headteacher might be one, but rather than individual mothers or fathers, it may be mothers as a group and fathers as a group.
  • Draw a series of circles on chalkboard  with each wedge of the circle representing one realm: home, school and community.
A circle labeled "Girl." The circle is split into three equal parts: Community, Home, and School.
  • Consider the center of the circle to be a girl, and, beginning with the list of the key groups/individuals for the realm of home, ask participants to describe the dynamic of the relationship between a girl and the first person. Then, ask them to draw a circle within that realm, using the following criteria:
    • The distance of the circle from the center is the “closeness” of that person to the girl or the frequency of interaction; that is, if the girl interacts with that person on a daily basis, the circle will be closer to than center than one that she interacts with only weekly.
    • The size of the circle denotes the level of influence that person has on the girls’ life; that is, a larger circle says that that person has a greater influence on the girl than a smaller circle.
  • Continue this process for each individual on the list, periodically comparing the drawing with the ideas of the participants, by posing questions relating to the two criteria, such as, “I see that this circle is much smaller than this one. Why is that? Are you comfortable with their relative sizes?”
  • Once the individuals from the home list are completed, continue with those from the realm of school, using the same criteria and same process.
  • Similarly, once the individuals from the school list are completed, continue with those from the realm of the community. (The final output will appear like the diagram above, with numerous additional circles of varying sizes within the outer circle.)

Variation - Clubs and Groups Census (Girls' Leadership)

In focus group discussions with school leaders, women and other community leaders, the Power to Lead Alliance gathered information about community clubs and groups in the sites where it worked. This exercise aimed to gather information about all active groups in the community, to gain insight into adults in the community that do or can serve as informal mentors to girls.

This exercise strives to gather information about all active groups in the community and also groups that may have existed in the past but are no longer active, especially groups that would have included girls as active members.

Information about each group include:

  1. Date, Enumerator Name
  2. Name of community
  3. Name of club/group
  4. Purpose, aims or general activity of group
  5. Name and gender of leaders
  6. Number of active group members
  7. Do active group members include women? men? girls? boys?
  8. How often to meetings or activities take place (weekly, twice a month, once a month, each 6 months, annually)?
  9. When did the last meeting take place? (last week, last month, last 6 months, last year, more than a year ago)?
  10. Any additional comments about this group?

In addition to these group profile questions, the enumerator may ask:

  • Are there significant differences between the opportunities available to boys and to girls? If so, what reasons are given to explain this difference?
  • Are there informal, peer-oriented (and/or peer-led) groups that also function in the community, but do not lend themselves to the census form? If so, document as much information as possible about such groups
  • Did respondents speak of groups that are no longer functioning? What are some of the reasons that groups no longer function

To understand the perspectives of girls themselves on activity and social networking opportunities, separate focus group discussions may be held to discuss:

Current Opportunities
  • What non-school and outside of the home activities are available for girls your age?
  • Are you active in clubs or groups? How many girls are active in each group?
  • Why do girls get involved with such groups?
  • What kinds of things keep girls from being able to participate in activities outside of home and school?
Future Possibilities
  • Are there activities that are not available to you, but that you wish were so that you could take part?
  • Is there anything that you can do to try to get groups started?
  • Are there people in your community who serve as mentors to girls? What do they do that makes girls look up to and respect them?
  • In what ways do you think that you will be able to influence girls’ lives when you are a grown woman?

Variation - Mapping Stakeholders for Program Design (Ethiopia)

Step 1: Brainstorm Initial Key Stakeholders

To understand key stakeholders in terms of Program Design and Theories of Change, CARE Ethiopia began mapping questions by first asking the following key questions:

  • Who is likely to contribute (positively) to the theory of change?
  • Who is likely to be resisting or opposing to the change process as expressed in the TOC?
  • How should we collaborate with these two different groups?

To answer these questions, the team mapped out different stakeholders across various levels and categories of influence. These may include:


Ward and District





  • Administration
  • Ministries
  • Legislature
  • Judiciary and police


  • Local CBOs, CSOs
  • Unions
  • International NGOS

Financial institutions

Customary institutions

  • Cultural/Ethnic
  • Religious

Social movements

Private sector


  • Multilateral
  • UN

Political parties


Step 2: Identify development

Consider different programming considerations,

  • Phases of programming,
  • Where different stakeholders operate within the emergency/development continuum.

This could be summarized in the same table using color coding or some other symbolic classification.


Step 3: Level of engagement with Impact group for detailed analysis

Once the main stakeholders have been identified, for each, further details need to be captured. These include:

  • Degree of overlap regarding the impact group
  • Specific focus on sub-impact group
  • What kind of relationship expected with program
  • Degree of similarity of vision/mission
  • Current and potential influence/contribution to scale on Theory of Change
  • Degree of interest in partnership and the Theory of Change
  • Type of relationship expected in the context of the Theory of Change
  • Kind of financing relationship expected


Step 4: Prioritize stakeholders based on criteria


Step 5: Fit with Theory of Change for detailed analysis

For the most important stakeholders identified, teams consider the current and potential link of each stakeholder group to each pathway within the program theory of change.


Step 6: Consider threats/risks to Theory of Change in this relationship

For the most important stakeholders identified in achieving breakthrough points, identify key threats in the partnership and steps to mitigate these.



  • E Watts (2011). Practical Guide for Stakeholder Analysis. CARE Ethiopia.
  • CARE USA (2009). Power to Lead Baseline Data Collection Tools.
  • V Robinson (2009). Context and Power in Sex Work in Bangladesh: An inquiry into empowerment and HIV risk reduction among sex workers in Dhaka and Tangail. CARE Bangladesh.
  • CARE Ecuador (2007). Experiential Methodologies: a proposal for developing qualitative research. Women’s Empowerment Strategic Impact Inquiry, CARE.
  • CARE and ICRW (2006). Walking the Talk. Inner Spaces, Outer Faces Initiative: A Gender and Sexuality Initiative.
  • Patsy Collins Trust Fund Initiative (2006). Selected Participatory Techniques for Situational Analysis. LEADER Workshop, CARE International - Tanzania.
  • T Frankenberger, K Luther, J Becht and K McCasten (2002). Household Livelihoods Security Assessments: A Toolkit for Practitioners. CARE.
  • V Wilde (2001). Socio-Economic and Gender Analysis Program Field Handbook. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
  • D VanBelle-Prouty and H Sey (1998). Girls' Participatory Learning Activities in the Classroom Environment (GirlsPLACE) A View to the Experiences of Girls. Institute for International Research.