Staying Power: How to Keep Your Community Coalition Healthy and Strong

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“People overestimate what they can achieve in a year, but underestimate what they can achieve in 10 years” (attributed to Bill Gates and Matthew Kelly). For a coalition, it is no different.

Starting a community coalition can seem daunting at first and even once you get it going achieving your goals to reduce substance abuse or fight student homelessness can seem like an impossible task. You want immediate results, but the truth is longevity is the secret to success. [1]

For community coalitions, longevity is dependent on the ability of the coalition’s sustainability and to maintain all the essential components it established during start-up.[2] Here are some ways that you can remind yourself of the long term goals and not get bogged down In the nitty-gritty day to day operations of the coalition.

Create a Maintenance Plan for Your Community Coalition

A coalition can be quite complex, with many different people and policies to navigate through. Therefore, plenty of oversight and guidance is necessary to accomplish its tasks.      One of the hardest parts of maintaining community coalitions is recognizing the need for maintenance and deciding to proactively implement a plan. A maintenance plan is a plan where a coalition can break your strategy into smaller pieces and then set a schedule to review each piece to make sure that your goals stay on track and that the pieces of the coalition are all working like they are supposed to toward the overarching goals.

Design a Community Coalition Maintenance Plan

Working with various stakeholders is a key component of any coalition and building a maintenance plan is no different. Members must come together and work through the strategy of creating a plan. The overarching objective of the maintenance plan is to keep the core components of your community coalition fresh in order to constantly evaluate the goals shared by coalition members and to help keep members engaged in the process.[3]

Plan on regularly refreshing the following components of your coalition, which were established during start-up:

  • Mission – why are you a coalition?
  • Members – how are you engaging with your community?
  • Marketing – how are you reaching out to increase visibility?
  • Data – How are you tracking improvement?


These components, at a minimum, make up the foundation of your community coalition. Making sure that all of these parts are contained in a living document is important to your organization. Changes should be made as needed as your stakeholders come up with new ideas and processes that help in your overall mission.

Implement Your Community Coalition Maintenance Plan

Additionally, your plan should specify how you plan to enforce your maintenance standards. Document the following:

  • Who is responsible for each aspect of maintenance?
  • How often do you plan to refresh each component?
  • What processes must take place?

One common process to implement your maintenance plan is to conduct formal and/or informal reviews. Reviews are an excellent way to enforce your plan because they can be tailored to address the individual needs of your coalition and baked into the culture of your institution. You can perform reviews as often as you need to. You may find that as time goes on you move from a quarterly to a bi-annual or even annual review. Just make sure that they are often enough to keep your stakeholders engaged.

Secure Funding for Your Coalition

An essential component of any maintenance plan is to ensure that funding is available. Formalized procedures that protect the integrity of your community coalition should include plans to continuously secure funding. The most reliable and ubiquitous sources of funding are federal grants.

Federal Grant Funding for Coalitions

Depending on the scope and nature of your coalition, there are two ways to secure federal government grants. One of them is, the general federal website for securing grants for all types of organizations, including coalitions. The other is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website. It regularly updates a list of funding opportunities for recognized coalitions.

In order to be eligible for these federal grants, there are several specific requirements. To apply through the SAMHSA website for funding, your coalition needs to be registered with a Dun and Bradstreet Number, the System for Award Management,, and eRA Commons. Once these steps are complete, you can apply for any grants that are applicable to your coalition.

Most federal grants are for terms of five years with terms to extend the grant up to ten years. The expectation of the DFC grant specifically is geared as a sort of start-up funding and once it expires they expect your coalition to be able to run on its own. One of the most common reasons that a coalition fails is that they run out of funding because they were not focused on creating the types of funding they would need while they were taking federal money. Fundraising should be a focus from day one.

Private Funding for Coalitions

In addition to federal grants, there are many private funding opportunities available. There are many organizations that work hard to connect coalitions to appropriate funding. Some examples include Public Health Funding, Community Grants Coalition, and more depending on the specifics of your coalition’s objectives.

Beyond grants, many coalitions partner with private companies and other NGOs that can provide funding in specific areas. It’s a new coalitions job to seek out these sorts of partnerships with companies that have philanthropic budgets that they can use. Grocery store chains, chambers of commerce, and others are good places to start when looking to secure funding for your community coalition.

Keep Your Community Coalition Going with Data

Every coalition needs data to fuel its work. May times data can be a good way to show a need for a coalition in the first place and can help you secure a grant. Think of it as a down payment or an investment on your coalition. If your coalition can prove through data collection that there is a problem to solve, you are halfway there.      This is where Pride Surveys can help your coalition grow stronger.

Check out Pride Surveys today to create your own survey to obtain data for your coalition. Our surveys allow coalitions to directly tap into the source for vital information, which helps drive the decision-making process for coalitions. If you’re in need of first-hand information, contact Pride Surveys today!




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