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Key Success Factors and Problems


Think carefully before making the commitment of starting or taking part in an animal protection collaboration. World Animal Net’s course on Strategic Advocacy for Animal Welfare includes some valuable advice on the advantages and disadvantages of working in collaborations.

Effective advocacy is best done in conjunction with other organizations supporting the same aim, and having the same broad values and ethics.

Key Success Factors for Collaborations

  • Common sense of ‘mission and purpose’ (in the words of John Hoyt, former HSUS and WSPA President).
  • Involvement of mission-driven and committed individuals.
  • Active and experienced steering group.
  • Participatory decision-making and democratic methods (with sensitivity to power differentials).
  • United front: Everyone involved must understand and sign up to the coalition’s mission, structure, operating procedures, and tasks – as a bare minimum.
  • Clear and achievable strategy, with clear action-orientated goals and objectives, and shared roles and responsibilities.
  • Work together on agreed priorities.
  • Skills and resources inventory: understanding each organizations’ comparative advantages - know and use available expertise, skills, contacts and resources.
  • Clear membership and selection criteria.
  • Permitting different groups to take different angles, perspectives and approaches (e.g. a NGO that works closely with government, such as a service delivery provider, can be responsible for documenting and highlighting ‘best practice’ examples; whereas a combative campaigning group can document and highlight failures – in a hard-hitting campaign).
  • Clear conflict resolution procedures (open acknowledgement and resolution of differences).
  • Foster trust, openness and honesty among members.
  • Cooperation, not competition.
  • Capacity build around actions – developing expertise.
  • Motivate and empower members.
  • Effective communication and information sharing.
  • Common/shared research and investigations.
  • Platform to take a ‘helicopter view’ of shared concerns, against the policy environment – ensuring effective strategy and clear priorities.
  • Share credit, and celebrate successes.

Biggest Problems

  • Power play and domination
  • Ego (including problems over credit/branding)
  • Funding
  • Difficulty of agreeing on clear objectives and priorities
  • Workload sharing (passive members)
  • Time-benefits - time consumed on debate, not action
  • Inclusion of potential opponents/'targets'
  • Difficulty of managing a set of relationships - with inherent conflicts
  • Lack of effective outward communication
  • Lack of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)

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