The Wealth (and Ways) of Coalitions

Friday, June 1, 2012 (All day)

Colleagues in the group Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) recently crowd-sourced their collective brain and came up with a list of resources dealing with management, growth and development best practices in coalitions, networks and the like.

This is an area about which Community Partners knows quite a bit. It is the subject of our book Networks that Work: A Practitioner's Guide to Managing Networked Action, 2nd Edition, available for purchase here. And the principles outlined there have been gleaned from many years of close work with a wide range of coalitions. For example, we guided planning for the Violence Prevention Coalition, facilitated retreats for the D5 Coalition (whose mission is to grow philanthropy's diversity, equity and inclusion), and have trained dozens of network managers.

Here's a great resource list, culled from a host of GEO members, for anyone navigating the complexity of managing or working as part of organizational networks.


Coalition of Community Based Youth Serving Agencies
Description: 20 Best Practices put together by a team of agencies. CCBYSA is a collective voice that strengthens and enhances the capacity of youth serving agencies in Winnipeg.

The Community Tool Box
Description: The Community Tool Box (CTB) promotes community health and development by connecting people, ideas and resources.

Nonprofit Collaboration Database
Description: 115 models of “confederations” (i.e. coalition collaborations). The database is the product of The Collaboration Prize, a national award to provide models of collaboration for the sector. Starting in 2012, collaborations can apply to the Foundation Center to input information about collaborations into the database, further expanding it.

The Power of Collaborative Solutions: Six Principles and Effective Tools for Building Healthy Communities
Tom Wolff
Jossey-Bass/John Wiley, February 2010.
Description: Offers six key principles for success in building health communities, along with easy-to-use, effective tools and inspiring stories of ways that people have rediscovered democracy and turned their communities around.

Wisconsin Clearing House for Prevention Resources
Description: Tools and resources designed to help you develop and sustain a coalition of individuals and organizations that will create change in your community by working together.

Campaigning for International Justice
Learning Lessons (1991-2011) What’s Next? (2011-2015)
Brendan Cox. May 2011.
Description: A study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to look at global campaigns, lessons learned, and future opportunities, with some relevant lessons for coalition building.
Contact: Kimberly A. Hamilton, PhD, Director, Strategy, Planning & Management
Global Policy and Advocacy, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“Collective Impact”
Stanford Social Innovation Review. John Kania & Mark Kramer. Winter 2011
Description: Large-scale social change requires cross-sector coordination, while the social sector continues to focus on contributions of individual organizations.

Connecting at the Crossroads: Alliance Building and Social Change in Tough Times
Manuel Pastor, Jennifer Ito and Rhonda Ortiz. December 2010
Description: Now more than ever, alliances of progressive grassroots organizations that are deeply rooted, broadly intersectional, and highly effective are critical for building and sustaining a movement for social equity.

The Partnerships Analysis Tool
VicHealth 2011. Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Melbourne, Australia The Retirement Research Foundation
Description: If partnerships are to be successful, they must have a clear purpose, add value to the work of the partners, and be carefully planned and monitored. This resource is for organizations entering into or working in a partnership to assess, monitor and maximize its ongoing effectiveness.

“Unstill Waters: The Fluid Role of Networks in Social Movements”
Description: Robin Katcher’s article in The Nonprofit Quarterly describes the essential roles networks play in building a strong social movement ways based on Management Assistant Group’s experience and research.

What Makes An Effective Coalition?
Description: Jared Raynor highlights the best ways for nonprofits to work collectively by sharing leadership, articulating a clear value proposition, employing transparent decision-making processes, and measuring performance.