Approaching coalition partners is often as easy as simply asking the leader of a group to join your effort. Answers to the following questions will help the advocate leader in developing a plan:
- Who are the easiest groups to get? If the goal is to build a critical mass early, contact the most gettable groups first.
- Are there groups that will help you leverage participation by other groups? If so, consider expending some effort to get these “leading” groups. Once they have agreed to join, others will come much easier.
- Are there groups that might serve to limit participation by others? If this is the case, carefully consider whether they should be approached at all. Sometimes coalitions are not successful because the core set of groups leaves a less than stellar impression. Conversely, groups that might be considered less than ideal may need to be included for political and/or policy reasons. In these cases, it may make sense to try to get them on board later rather than sooner.
- Who is the best person to approach the potential coalition partner? A member of the organization’s advocate network who serves as a board member, donor or friend of one of the groups that the organization plans to approach may be ideally suited to make the initial contact. This practice serves two purposes: 1) it engages a member of the advocate network in the policy work of the organization; and, 2) it enhances the credibility of your message with the receiving group.
- What materials will be available to the groups being asked to join the coalition? At a minimum, a one pager outlining the mission, goals and basic strategies should be provided. The one pager should also include details on what might be expected of coalition partners.
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