7 Ways to build Effective Coalitions

In my years of nonprofit and faith based leadership, I have had the opportunity to join and also build coalitions of like minded people and organizations, to move towards a shared goal and achieve positive community impacts. Building strong coalitions is key to making progress on a number of human social need and community development issues. 

In one county in rural Virginia, I led a coalition of faith-based organizations to advocate for policy change around rural homelessness. By leading over two dozen organizations to partner in raising awareness, we were able to get county and town zoning ordinances changed to allow for the building of a permanent homeless shelter. The shelter was in proximity to other services that our neighbors experiencing homelessness might benefit from, including the local hospital, a Legal Aid office, and a public transit route.

Building coalitions involves forming alliances or partnerships between individuals or groups to achieve a common goal or objective. Here are some general steps that can be taken to build effective coalitions:

  1. Identify the issue: The first step is to identify the issue or goal that the coalition will work towards. This could be a shared concern or a common objective that the coalition members want to achieve.
  2. Identify potential partners: Identify individuals or groups that have a stake in the issue and are willing to work towards the common goal. This could involve reaching out to stakeholders such as community leaders, advocacy groups, and other interested parties.
  3. Establish shared goals: Once the coalition partners have been identified, establish shared goals that everyone can agree on. This can help ensure that everyone is working towards the same objective and can help build trust between coalition members.
  4. Develop a strategy: After establishing shared goals, the coalition should develop a strategy for achieving those goals. This could involve identifying specific actions that need to be taken, outlining timelines, and delegating responsibilities among coalition members.
  5. Build relationships: Building relationships among coalition partners is crucial for a successful coalition. This could involve holding regular meetings, providing opportunities for networking, and working collaboratively to achieve common goals.
  6. Communicate effectively: Effective communication is key to building a strong coalition. This involves ensuring that all members of the coalition are informed about the progress being made towards achieving shared goals, as well as any challenges or setbacks that may arise.
  7. Evaluate progress: Regularly evaluating progress is important for ensuring that the coalition is on track to achieving its goals. This could involve setting benchmarks or metrics for success, and regularly reviewing progress towards those metrics.

Overall, building a coalition requires a commitment to shared goals, effective communication, and building strong relationships among coalition partners. By following these steps, individuals or groups can work together to achieve shared goals and make progress towards important issues.

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