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Collaborations and Coalitions

Working with like-minded people

Many advocates find that combining voices is more effective - not only because you are more likely to be heard, but more efficient as well. Learning from others with more experience will save a lot of time - they know what has and hasn't worked in the past and which policymakers are sympathetic to the issue. They likely have updates that are very informative. Some groups provide advocacy training and support. Sharing resources - time, money, the services of a lobbyist - is more efficient. And more collaborators mean more opportunities to reach different policymakers.

Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.

-- Verna M. Kelly

Finding a like-minded group is not usually hard. Search the internet. Check on college campuses. Go to a few public hearings or conferences on your issue and see who testifies or speaks.

Once you find a group, go to a few meetings and read their materials. You will quickly decide if the group is a good fit for you. Consider:

  • the mission and the goals - do they include your issue, obviously you want to work toward your goal while supporting others' as well 
  • what you will be expected to contribute - some will ask for nothing, but some may have a membership fee, some may ask for access to your network (if you have one), or for a significant commitment of time 
  • the history of the group - see if they have a history of advocacy success 
  • their reputation - check around, especially ask policymakers which groups they respect 
  • who else belongs - be sure you are comfortable with the partners, but do not rule out groups with unlikely members, this is a significant strength 
  • is one group or person driving the agenda? 
  • politics -- some are aligned with one party or even one wing of a party, that is not necessarily bad - it can be extremely effective, but be sure you are comfortable with the bias

While coalitions can be extremely effective, and are often the only way to move an issue, they are human institutions. Power struggles, turf battles and strong personalities are not uncommon. There are often differences in culture, ways of working, resources, and levels of commitment to the cause. Recognize and respect the differences.

RELATED ARTICLES

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How to work with a lobbyist

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Sample Letter Raising a Concern

Sample Letter Opposing a Proposal

Sample Letter Supporting a Proposal

Sample Fact Sheet 1

Sample Fact Sheet 2

The Proper Care and Feeding of a Champion

Tips No Advocate should forget

Advocacy Explained

How to work with campaigns

Changing Public Opinion

How to Create Fact Sheets and Action Alerts

Coalitions and Advocacy Presentation

LINKS

Guidelines to Organizing by Family Voices

Caring Families Coalition - a truly consumer-driven health coalition in CT with over a thousand members

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