Here is an outline of a training that I recently offered to a group of environmentalists and community organizers.

Building Alliances and Coalitions 

Whether you are acting as an individual, an organization, an agency, a community, whatever, below are some things to remember when reaching out to others. And remember:  Relationship is equally important as the task you need to get done. Take time to listen, understand, respect and build trust. 

  • Know their landscape
    • Physical, geographical, natural resources
    • Cultural, religious, traditional, historical
    • Economic and social
    • Power structure, how things work
    • Show that you have cared enough to learn                   
    • (“I don’t care what you know til I know that you care”) 
  • Be clear about your problem or need
    • Why this is important to you
    • Your hopes
    • Perceived obstacles 
  • Listen to their problem or need
    • Give them plenty of time, make sure you understand
    • Look for overlapping interests
    • Offer to help whether or not there are overlapping interests (there may be common causes in the future)
  • Share leadership
    • Join them, rather than ask them to join you
    • Agree how to share leadership 
  • Be focused yet flexible
    • Be willing to change direction in order to keep coalition together
    • Together, develop process for working together 
  • Be patient
    • Time is an oppressor
    • Weigh urgency against the value of partnership 
  • Take risks
    • Show vulnerability by being human
    • Stretch in their direction to show commitment

Lucy Moore, April 2017