A Coordinating Force is Essential
One agency must come forth to function as the coordinating force for the community initiative. Available resources of staff, time, and funding are necessary to sustain the organization over time. Staff with management expertise, strong organizational skills, and a comprehensive vision are needed to represent the voice of the coalition, recruit new members, keep the coalition on task, and keep present the overall goals of creating environmental change.
Be aware that coalitions must be constructed carefully and deliberately. Invited members should share common goals, desire collaboration, possess human and financial resources to contribute, and value community ownership over individual pride. Members should represent a broad spectrum of diverse community segments. Maintaining coalition momentum requires consistent communication, as well as respect for members’ unique roles in the organization. Additionally, partners need to be held accountable to their commitments. If funding is offered to partners, an annual judicious and organized competitive process and review will be necessary.
Leverage Relationships and Talents
Assessment tools and thorough asset analyses help to identify the assets of the community in order to build on what already exists and what is working to avoid duplicating efforts. Knowing each partner’s internal structure and levels of connectedness among community organizations is crucial to maximize their collaborative potentials.
Communication is essential to making progress, meeting goals, and maintaining a meaningful relationship among members. Efficient and respectful use of members’ time and expertise is of the utmost importance. Meetings are contained within one to two hours with agendas and action items. Members need to be given a mechanism for easy communication and should be involved in creating the agenda and action items.
Leader(s) must be able to conduct productive dialogue between partners.
Community Partnerships for Older Adults
The Partnership Evolution section under the resource tab provides a well designed series of nine units on the meaning of partnerships, how to build and sustain them, and rationale and guidelines for each:
Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET)
A Collaboration Primer outlines a simple way to start building coalitions. It includes:
Measures of community readiness
Questions and checklists to review prior to collaboration
Examples of model collaborative agreements
A tool to assess partnership effectiveness
Basic recommendations for building strong and effective partnerships.
Community Toolbox: Leading a Community Dialogue (Chapter 3 Section 17)
The goal of Tools 1, 2, and 3 in this section is guiding community partners through a dialogue about building a healthy community. This resource includes:
Guidelines for facilitating dialogue
Questions to ask
Proven principles at the foundation of successful community initiatives
Coalition Facilitator Handbook
Among many useful tools on the Wisconsin Clearinghouse for Prevention Resources website, there is a good section under Prevention - Coalition Building that links to several extensive and comprehensive facilitators’ guides. The University of Florida Extension developed three particularly useful documents that contain worksheets, checklists, and practical tips:
Building Coalitions: Coalition Facilitator’s Guide