Building coalitions: A new requirement of many grant applications

First, what is a coalition, exactly?

A coalition is a group of organizations that collaborate to work on improving a larger social problem. The idea behind a coalition is that a group of organizations working together will have a larger impact on the social problem being addressed than a single organization operating on its own.

Why are grantmakers requesting coalitions?

Recently, funders have become keener on the idea that programs run best when they do not exist in a vacuum. Instead, they run better—and longer—when aligned with broader movements and coalitions—when they are a part of the fabric of a community. This is because research has shown that programs/interventions that are integrated within a coalition tend to be more sustainable.

For example, when programming is aligned with broader community movements, each component becomes more potent and therefore more effective for children and families. Additionally, when programs are supported by partner agencies in the area, they create a supportive web for families, ultimately enhancing impact and improving sustainability.

Coalitions foster open dialogue and enhance the sharing of knowledge across organizations and leaders. Each organization, with their respective strengths, brings new thoughts and key learnings to the table, supporting ongoing development and improved implementation. Ultimately, through increased dialogue, the grant project or intervention will have an increased impact on the community served.

Another idea behind the recent focus on the building of coalitions is that when a number of stakeholders are involved, there is more momentum behind a certain approach, as well as the sharing of resources and responsibilities, supporting capacity for ongoing, collaborative fundraising.

How do I begin building a coalition?

The best way to begin with building a coalition is to start approaching like-minded organizations. If you happen to live near a university or community college, it is helpful to approach well-connected academic staff that can support the evaluation of your grant project and help build momentum for the project or intervention.