How to Start a Coalition
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but it’s probably also a close relative of coalition-building. All that’s really necessary for a coalition is a recognition that several groups working together—formally or informally—may be able to accomplish something that might be difficult if attempted alone. Reaching out to like-minded groups is probably easier than you think—simply glance at your school’s student groups pages or attend the activities fair most schools have at the beginning of semesters.
- Analyze the issue that you are trying to change. What exactly do you want to change?
- Determine and identify other groups with which you might work in coalition.
- Determine the best course of action. How can you educate others?
- Send representatives to the meetings of these other groups.
- Meet with the leadership of these other groups.
- Invite members of these other groups to make presentations to your group.
- Hold a meeting of the leadership and representatives of all groups to talk about common concerns, common goals, and/or a common action.
- Work to establish an open, diverse membership for your coalition.
- Establish a committee of some kind (planning, steering, coordinating, etc.) to continue the work of the coalition.
- Along the same vein, try to involve all of the ‘key players’ such as faculty and staff, elected officials, school board members, religious officials, etc...
Maintaining a Positive Coalition
- Be an active listener.
- When you are developing the objectives, make sure that all goals are discussed and shared by all members of the coalition.
- Keep a constant look out for new members or member groups
- Keep your promises. If you’re not sure you can do it, don’t offer to do so.
- Be persistent. You can make a difference, but it won’t happen over night.
- Evaluate what you have done: what went well and what needs to be changed.
Above all, remember that a coalition is meant to make achieving a goal easier. If being in a coalition or forming one is becoming difficult or is hampering your efforts, it might be easier to operate alone.