Thought needs to be given to identifying all stakeholders, in order to secure the benefits of involving anyone who can make a project happen. It is also important to plan ways in which they can be involved in the development of the project.
It is not possible to be prescriptive about how stakeholders should be defined or identified in order to involve them in developing a project; it really does depend on where the project started and what it involves.
From a practical point of view stakeholders cannot be involved in developing a project if you don't know who they are and why they should be involved. So initially you will have to define your stakeholders. This can be done in a in a number of ways:
By Type – decision makers, the public, a defined geographic area, age, gender, ethnicity, etc.
By Issue – groups and individuals already involved in the issues the project is concerned with (Saving heritage assets, generating sustainable energy, creating green space, etc).
By ‘Stake’ – groups and individuals who may be affected positively or negatively, directly or indirectly.
Once stakeholders have been identified in this way it is worth analysing where they are in relation to your project - are they actively for or against the project or uncommitted one way or another? Some key stakeholders will be more important to secure support from than others dependent on the nature of the project. This can provide a useful campaigning base for the involvement of other stakeholders.
Once you have an idea of your stakeholders, it is then possible to think about how stakeholders can be moved from a position of being against to being supportive. This may simply be a question of information about the project or may be a question of consultation on the details of the project.