Strength in Numbers: Coalition Building
Organizations and agencies frequently encounter the same complications when faced with implementing strategies to address complex issues that are too large to take on alone. Collaborative action, however, can be the most effective approach to achieving the goals set when identifying and grappling with these multifaceted problems. Building a coalition of stakeholders with shared interest exists to support one another in efforts to meet goals.
According to the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), a coalition is a group of organizations or individual stakeholders of diverse interest categories that unite both human and material resources in order to initiate a specific change that they are unable to deliver independently, but through collaboration, become successful.1 Most often, coalitions can advance efforts to alter and influence policy, no matter the economic sector.
For a coalition to be successful, it must demonstrate collaboration, communication, and commitment to the cause. Whatever the purpose of the coalition, when these skills are met with priorities like advancing policies and programs, advocacy, or developing programs and projects the coalition can accomplish a number of assignments. Once the coalition accumulates members, members can begin tackling urgent situations, pool together resources to meet the objective more efficiently, reallocate duties, develop connections with policy makers, and plan community initiatives. In conjunction, coalition building is essential to executing real change.
Why are Coalitions Important?
Building a coalition is critical to effective, strong contributions to the volume of advocacy and the coordination of resources between stakeholders and organizations with shared interest in the service of a common goal. There are many incomparable benefits to coalition building. Historically, coalition building not only enhances the health of the community and potential of the objective, but enhances each organization unaided as well.
Coalition building bolsters and nourishes the program, project, advocacy, or general goal in an attempt to create longevity of the success. The longer the coalition works inside of a certain space or sector, the more likely the coalition can develop, test, edit, and implement the programs and projects necessary to create change that last and makes a permanent, positive impression on the community. This can also ensure that the programs and projects, as well as approaches and resources are age, gender, and culturally sensitive for targeted audiences. This is credited to the coalition members, as they make up and represent the community, allowing constituents of the alliance to accept and oblige to the developed program and project’s goals and introducing those new connections in order to bring more commitment towards the goal.
Similarly, organizations have often experienced the possibility of any lone organization or stakeholder, or the coalition as a whole, gaining more wide spread attention as a result of coalition building. With collaboration, members bring together connections from all over. The increase in connections and greater possibility of producing real change because of the partnership directly affects the publicity and recognition of the members. With a stronger voice, the coalition becomes a guiding force in the intended space. This allows for a platform for discourse and comradery around the shared goal. Through this, support spreads through the broader communities and generates that cycle of attention.
Working in conjunction reduces the opportunity of duplicating efforts previously made and decreases the chance of resources being divided into small, unhelpful dividends.
Coalition building brings new and untapped talents and skills from members that can be used as a collective in order to execute program goals to resolve complex issues that require comprehensive solutions. When putting time and resources into complex issues that cannot be tackled independently, collaborative action, specifically establishing a coalition, is the most effective way to achieve the priority goals set by the stakeholder or organization and to bring about, nurture, and maintain meaningful change.
In my experience working in local, state, and the federal government, I know the power of organizations working on the ground with survivors and stakeholders and I know how important it is to elevate their voices. If you are interested in taking the next step and letting TWG lift up your message, please contact me at MRuffini@TWGStrategy.com.
Maggie J. Ruffini, TWG Vice President of Policy and Government Relations & Strategy Consultant