Nonprofits occasionally find it effective or expedient to form coalitions to bring about some kind of change. Although forming coalitions can bring strength through numbers, the results may not always be the optimum results expected by each member.
In The Nonprofit Lobbying Guide, Bob Smucker offers several considerations for any organizations thinking of joining forces with others for a certain objective such as legislative issue.
- To determine if there is sufficient interest one organization should describe in a page or two the problem. Once that is done, potential members can be invited to a meeting.
- To avoid later misunderstandings, everyone should seek clear agreement at the outset on the goals of the coalition, how it will target its efforts and how the undertaking will be financed.
- A small “secretiat” will be formed, usually of coalition leaders. It should build a sense of trust and openness, with honesty and no surprises. It should also be allowed to make on-the-spot compromises.
- One organization must serve as the clearinghouse. This starts at the initial meeting and continues with that organization receiving information from the others and passing it along without delay.
- It is wise to assess in advance the commitment of the organizations being asked to join.
- It is good to remember that the coalition issue is not a priority for every member.