Managing a Coalition
Advocacy requires hard work and a long-term commitment. It is easy for people’s commitment and enthusiasm to wane. The synergy that comes from people working together productively on an important issue can sustain efforts, even through difficult times.
Coalitions exist to enable their members to co-operate and work together. They take time and energy to develop and maintain because they involve building relationships of trust with other people. Many advocates find this aspect of their work to be both the most challenging and the most rewarding.
Starting a coalition is the easy part… Maintaining and developing the coalition is more difficult! The following advocacy tool provides some useful advice on managing coalitions.
Tool 28. Managing Coalitions
Coalition leadership can be shared (e.g. through a rotating co-ordination committee or steering group).
It is the role of the coalition leadership to ensure that the above suggestions are brought into action, and to:
- Promote participatory planning and decision making
- Delegate tasks
- Spread responsibilities across all members to reduce workload and avoid burnout
- Share information readily
- Foster trust, openness and honesty among members
- Motivate and empower members
- Act as role models
- Ensure that coalition members practice cooperation, not competition
The following may assist members to practice cooperation, not competition:
- Share leadership functions within the group and use all member resources
- Encourage members to take responsibility for their individual roles whilst valuing their team identity
- Take an interest in each member’s achievements as well as those of the group
- Remain committed to keep group communication on schedule, while allowing any disagreements to be solved
- Promote constructive criticism and helpful feedback
- Remain open to change, innovation, and creative problem solving
- Foster a norm that calls for members to support and respect one another and remain realistic in their expectations of one another
It is also a function of the leadership to run meetings effectively and efficiently. Coalition meetings can be time-consuming and non-productive – particularly if the coalition contains a broad base of differing organizations and individuals. General principles of running effective meetings should be applied.
Tool 29. Effective Meetings