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Action to Impact: A Coalition-Building Roadmap

  • Welcome

    This Action to Impact:  A Coalition-Building Roadmap is designed by and for local nonprofit organizations to help you decide whether building a coalition is the right collaborative strategy for you. Whether you are a nonprofit organization seeking to better understand your capacity to collaborate, or a group of organizations investigating the potential for better results by tackling a common challenge, or an existing coalition looking for advice and guidance to build momentum, identify new strategies to improve work and assess progress, Action to Impact: A Coalition-Building Roadmap is for you!  It guides readers in implementing a specific type of collaboration – also known as the collective impact model – in which organizations, often cross-sector, come together as a coalition to more effectively solve complex community challenges.

    The Roadmap provides concrete, actionable guidance on how to create a coalition structure that is realistic and effectiveand how to act in coalition to achieve your common goals. It has information for coalitions at all stages of development – from feasibility, to launch, to community action, to impact. The Roadmap includes how to information, hand-selected articles for a deep dive into the topics presented, and the essential information you need to figure out what resources, expertise or even consultants you may need to position your coalition for success.

    This Coalition-Building Roadmap combines current research and practice tools on coalition building based on lessons learned from a multi-year pilot project with the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition (CMHWC), in Charlottesville, Virginia, as well as the authors’ experiences with coalitions over the last 20 years.  The Roadmap is tailored to local coalitions, but the key principles are readily applicable to other communities.

    Users will find this Roadmap helpful at any stage of coalition development, and are encouraged to move between the READY, SET, GO and SIDE TRIPS sections as needed to build the strongest, most effective coalition.

  • Acknowledgements

    This Roadmap is the end result of a multi-year governance and evaluation consulting pilot with the Community Mental Health and Wellness Coalition (CMHWC) in Charlottesville, VA.

    The authors wish to give special thanks to CMHWC leaders past and present: Erika Viccellio, Former Executive Vice President, United Way of Greater Charlottesville; Karen Osterhaus, Research, Evaluation, Grants Coordinator, Region Ten Community Services Board; Elizabeth Irvin, Executive Director, The Women’s Initiative; Erin Tucker, Executive Director, On Our Own; Kaki Dimock, Director of Human Services, City of Charlottesville and Mike Murphy, Former Assistant City Manager, City of Charlottesville. These leaders have not only guided the CMHWC to achieve real community impact, they have also been true partners in learning throughout the project. They have invested personal time, valuable insights and feedback into the Roadmap with the collective goal of benefiting other coalitions attempting community change in our region. This Roadmap is a true collaborative effort. Any errors contained within, however, are the sole responsibility of the authors.

    This Roadmap would not be possible without the participation and partnership of the entire CMHWC, the CMHWC Data Committee and especially the efforts of the staff at the Charlottesville Free ClinicRegion Ten Community Services BoardThe Women’s InitiativeThrive, and On Our Own, who worked with Partnerships for Strategic Impact™ to build a Strategic Impact Map™, to identify impact indicators and to collect and wrestle with the data.

    Very special thanks are extended to the City of Charlottesville and the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation (CACF) for providing partial funding for this project, as well as additional staff time contributed by the Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) and Partnerships for Strategic Impact™ (PSI) which more than doubled the amount of funding contributed. We owe a particular debt of gratitude to Christine Jacobs, CNE’s summer 2016 intern and a graduate of the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, who brought her considerable project management skills, web design creativity and sense of humor to the task of: editing, formatting, synthesizing, coordinating, designing and cajoling the authors to complete this Roadmap. We cannot recommend her enough. Special thanks also to CNE student interns and University of Virginia undergraduate students Courtney Morgan, Erin Comerford and Fiona Dale, each of whom enthusiastically gave of their time and their editing and creative talent to bring this project to life.

    This Roadmap relies on the significant expertise of practitioners, consultants, thought leaders and experts across the country who are engaged in collaborative communities of practice. We encourage anyone using specific resources included in this Roadmap to cite their work. Should you use or cite the information in this report, we ask that you use the following citation:

    Action to Impact: A Coalition-Building Roadmap, Cristine Nardi, Author; Maryfrances Porter, Author. (Charlottesville, VA, 2017)

  • The many faces of collaboration

    While not the focus of this Roadmap, information on additional types of collaboration, such as joint ventures, shared administrative services, co-location, and consolidation can be found at the following links:

    What are the Different Ways to Collaborate?, GEO

    Knowledge Base, Candid

    The Partnership Matrix, LaPiana Consulting

    Which Type of Collaboration is Right for You?, Harvard Business Review

How to Use this Roadmap

This Roadmap is divided into this ACTION TO IMPACT landing page and 4 navigable sections:  READY, SET, GO and SIDE TRIPS.  The following buttons will appear at the top of each page for ease in navigation:

Things to Look Out For

Keep an eye out for Local Spotlights which describe how local coalitions have done the work. Look out for Lessons Learned from local practitioners doing this work.  The Resources link will direct you to articles, tools and templates that you can use right now.



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 For more information, tools or resources on collaboration, to find out more about our collaboration trainings or to schedule a collaboration consult for your coalition, please contact CNE’s Senior Manager | Learning & Impact, Brian Ullman.