In Toolkit 1 we looked at Stakeholders. These are the people who have an interest in what our youth clubs do. It’s important that we know, for ourselves, what the purpose of our youth project is, and how our activities are designed to create long and short-term benefits for young women and girls. But we all know that one woman, such as Chidi, working alone in Africa, can only achieve so much. 

We need to convince others that our projects are worth supporting. We need other people to get involved through their labour, financial contributions, young people who want to participate, parents investing their trust in us and so on. These people are often called stakeholders – they have an investment in our youth project being successful or an important role to play if we are to reach our goals. 

And all of the stakeholders need to know that your project is effective if they are going to keep supporting the project. In Toolkit 1 you already identified your stakeholders. Chidi’s stakeholders were:

  • The girls attending the cooking club, her volunteers or youth workers
  • The girl’s families and the wider community
  • The church that was offering her the space
  • Her donors and funders, locally and from farther afield 
  • The girls’ schools and teachers

After identifying these audiences, Chidi needs to think about what they want to know in order to stay enthusiastic, engaged and supportive. This means stepping into these people’s shoes and trying to see it from their perspectives so that she can build general feedback for her stakeholders.

Constructing Personas

One way Chidi could discover what her audiences want is through building personas, which are fictional versions of her youth club’s supporters. In creating the fictional versions of her audience, Chidi will be better able to tailor her feedback to them specifically. 

It would allow her to think about HOW to communicate with these audiences. Do they like information through Whatsapp or in print? Do they have data or not? Do they prefer watching videos or reading? Would they like to come to an event at the club and see it for themselves? 

And she can think about WHAT would make them see this impact. Are they interested in seeing numbers or hearing stories? What sort of stories would capture their attention and lead them to become more engaged? Would it be better for them to hear the story told by the girls themselves, or from Chidi, or an authority figure like a local teacher?

Chidi can sit down and think of a ‘persona’ for each one of the categories above. To do this, Chidi needs to ask herself:

  • Who are they – really? Seek to understand the audience on a personal level and find out what their daily lives look so you can connect with them. 
  • Why would they want to hear from you? What’s in it for them? 
  • What gets them up every morning? Find out their biggest aspirations and concerns and show your audience that you relate with them.

Taking a local mother or female guardian as an example, Chidi could describe a typical mother:

Agnes is 35 and her oldest daughter, Anne, is 17. Anne is now living with her husband, and has her own baby. Isra, her second daughter, comes to the cooking club. Now that Anne has left, Isra is responsible for cooking for the family and caring for the youngest three children, aged 3-8, when Agnes is working. Anne and Isra’s father died in an accident when they were small. Agnes remarried but her husband moved away to find work and is rarely home. He tries to send money back but in reality Agnes is financially responsible for the children. Agnes often works from 5AM-8PM in her kiosk, and usually takes the youngest child with her as the elder two are at school in the week. On Sundays she goes to church and has many household tasks. Agnes has a smartphone and free data for Whatsapp. She isn’t a confident reader and wouldn’t want to read anything long. However, she loves watching videos sent on Whatsapp by her friends. She is keen for Isra to attend the cooking club and to finish her studies. She was disappointed when Anne got pregnant and married her boyfriend without finishing school. She knows that Isra has many responsibilities at home and this affects her studies, but her dream was always that her children would have more secure futures than her own. 

Now we have this persona, typical of many mothers in Nairobi, Lagos or Johannesburg; what do we know about her? She likes watching videos but has little time. Perhaps the best way for her to see the club’s value is to send her a video, with the girls explaining how the club is helping them stay in school, as this is the ‘goal’ of our typical mothers or guardians. Another idea could also be to ask her some questions, so she can see the impact for herself, and you will also have information for your monitoring and evaluation. For example, we know that she has a kiosk and runs a family on a tight budget. Has she seen the impact of Isra’s budgeting skills? Has she been able to sell some of the snacks that Isra has learnt to cook at the club, to increase her income?

Reflection Questions

With your stakeholder list, create personas for them, using the same questions as Chidi used above.

  1. What interest (financial or emotional) do they have in the outcome of your work – is it positive or negative?
  2. What motivates them most of all?
  3. What information do they want from you, and what is the best way of communicating with them?
  4. What is their current opinion of your work; is it based on good information?
  5. If they aren’t likely to be positive, what will win them around to support your project?

You might also be interested in 

Outcome and impact training | NCVO (ncvo.org)

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