Why a Community Needs an “Influence and Access Report”

by | Dec 17, 2018 | Community Engagement | 0 comments

Knowing who drives a community agenda forward may seem simple. Is it the local elected leaders? The most successful businesses and business leaders? The long-time residents?

You can guess and make a list, but nothing serves you better than real, verifiable community intelligence. One such source is a Stratiscope Community Leadership Analysis, and the Influence and Access Report is one of the most effective in providing better information for decision-making for both businesses and civic leaders alike.

We use a number of methods to collect community intelligence and a Community Leadership Analysis provides the data points to objectively tell the story of a community’s power structure – be it official and overt or unofficial and somewhat opaque (it’s usually the latter!).

In Burbank, CA, where Stratiscope is based, we took one small segment of community leadership that has far-reaching implications: self-selected volunteer leaders driving the organizations that make up and preserve the fabric of the local community. In order to understand this influential group, you need to know 1) how many active organizations exist in the community and 2) who serves on their board. For Burbank, this meant starting from scratch, as no such list existed. And you can’t rely on just an internet search — we found over 700 organizations listed and when our work was done, just under 100 were verified through our methodology as active, local, and serving the community at large.

We also were able to track board members’ employers to see which businesses and institutions were most prevalent, which also reveals influence on key issues and generally. Comparing publicly available employer data for the top 50 companies showed that just a few companies are leveraging these local leadership opportunities to advance their community presence and commitment. Of the 10 Burbank-based businesses and/or institutions with the highest number of representatives serving on local boards, only 4 were businesses: Cusumano Real Estate Group, Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers, and Walt Disney. The remaining six are important civic institutions like the city, school district, and hospital. The study further revealed that of the top 50 private employers in Burbank, only six had staff actively serving on local nonprofit boards. What an elite group they’re in to influence community outcomes, and what an opportunity for the other nearly 90% of the top employers to jump in.

Burbank nonprofits have an opportunity to to reach and activate over 100 additional board members, as national statistics show that approximately 20% of non-profit board seats remain unfilled. Whether local nonprofit organizations turn to local community or outside of Burbank to fill these seats will be show in 2019 and beyond.

This first-of-its-kind local analysis for Burbank was designed to develop a deeper understanding of the community’s key players and to identify trends across these organizations that reveals which individuals and organizations are driving the local community agenda. The report can be found at https://stratiscope.com/burbank-report.

And what’s the point of a report without a robust discussion about it. Stratiscope will be hosting a panel discussion on January 31, 2019 at 9am to delve into the issues revealed and hear from local and regional leadership experts about how to engage leaders and build diverse, powerful non-profit boards.