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Stakeholder engagement

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This is fourth stage in the consortium development process, and covers why you need to engage stakeholders such as commissioners and local organisations in your consortium development, and how.

One of the dangers that can befall new consortia is that they invest resources in internal development but forget to give equal priority to building relationships. There are examples of consortia failing because of lack of trust from within the voluntary sector, failure to engage some of the local key players, and/or failure to build relationships with commissioners.

Conveying the right messages to commissioners is particularly important because commissioners are likely to be unfamiliar with voluntary sector consortium models, particularly constituted consortia. In our experience one of the biggest success criteria for new consortia is where commissioners have bought in to the idea and they proceed to commission in ways that align with consortium development.

Outcomes for this stage

  • Good buy-in and awareness from the wider voluntary sector
  • Significant players engaged (sometimes the larger organisations that may otherwise be competitors)
  • Good buy-in and understanding of your consortium model by commissioners

Key activities for this stage

  1. Conduct a stakeholder mapping exercise. Who are the key people/organisations whose buy-in is likely to be critical to the success of the consortium? How influential are they? How should you prioritise your efforts?
  2. Develop a commissioner influencing plan, so that local public sector commissioners feel ‘bought in’ to the consortium. For example, commissioners often value the fact that consortium members will have been through due-diligence processes, avoiding the need for the commissioner to conduct separate Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQs) on all consortium members. Think about what will sell your consortium to commissioners and consider inviting commissioners to a meeting of your working group.
  3. Hold an event for commissioners. Although you may have engagement of some commissioners, it is important that all commissioners are aware of what you are doing. Try to use the event to identify specific contract opportunities that might be suitable for the consortium. Under procurement regulations, smaller contracts may not have to go through open tender.
  4. Share information about the consortium’s development in real time, rather than waiting till all the development work is completed – through sector bulletins for example.


  • A London-based consortium stalled after its development phase failed to win a first contract. In part this was because its steering group had not won over some of the larger organisations. When new contracts came up for renewal the larger organisations saw that consortium as a threat, and did not cooperate.
  • Greater Together (Lancashire) invested early on in its development in building relationships with commissioners. Subsequently it hosted a process of service co-design bringing together commissioners and providers of domestic violence services. The process helped to develop a specification for a new pan-Lancashire domestic violence contract, which Greater Together went on to win.

More information

Next step

Operational development and consortium documentation

Page last edited Oct 03, 2016

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