Creating Partnerships and Coalitions

Creating partnerships and/or coalitions can be incredibly valuable in ensuring that your voice and priorities are shared and communicated with the press, the public, and policymakers. Often, community problems or issues are too large and complex for any one person or organization to tackle. In these circumstances, forming a partnership or a coalition can be an effective strategy for changing the programs and policies needed to solve the identified problem or achieve the sought-after goal. There can be great reward in sharing a joint and unified agenda with others in your community. In addition to working with those who share your goals, partnerships can often help achieve your desired impact. However, just like any other activity that typically involves volunteers, there can also be challenges when forming something new and untested. 

An effective partnership or coalition needs to have a defined purpose and actionable strategies if it is to be successful. 

Advantages of Partnerships/Coalitions

  • Enlarges base of support, networks, and connections
  • Provides support for members who may not be able to take action alone
  • Magnifies existing financial and human resources by pooling them together
  • Reduces duplication of effort/resources
  • Enhances the credibility and influence of an advocacy campaign
  • Helps develop new leadership skills among members
  • Assists in individual and organizational networking
  • Facilitates exchange of information, skills, experience, materials, collaboration, etc.
  • Brings together a diverse range of people and organizations Provides peer support, encouragement, motivation, and professional recognition

Disadvantages of Partnerships/Coalitions

  • Can lack clear objectives or have objectives that are difficult for all to agree with
  • Can be very time consuming and take time away from the advocacy
  • May be dominated by one person or organization
  • May require compromise on issues or tactics
  • Can slow down decision making
  • May lack sufficient resources
  • Can be difficult to monitor and evaluate

Adapted from: Community Tool Box, Section 5: Coalition Building, University of Kansas.