Maintaining the health of a coalition is an essential factor in its ability to be effective and efficient. This includes assessing coalition health, active committee engagement and ongoing partner communication. In addition, staying on top of data to measure productivity and impact, and using it for strategic planning, are critical aspects of successful coalition management. Finally, although it may seem obvious when to declare that a coalition’s mission has been accomplished, it is actually a complex question that depends on a variety of factors.

 Several questions addressed in this section include:

  • Is our coalition healthy?
  • Do our committee and meeting structures facilitate impact?
  • Do we communicate effectively to build coalition support?
  • Do our activities, programs, and strategies support reaching our goals?
  • How do we actually use all the data we collect?
  • Are we on course to having the impact that we desire? Should we change our activities or resources to better meet those goals?
  • How does a coalition ensure sustainability?
  • Are we going in the right direction? Does the coalition need to change its focus, hand over work to another entity, or fold?

The information in this section describes how to effectively cultivate and sustain collaboration and coalition health by continuous improvement of day-to-day processes, including managing for success, tracking productivity and impact and using data to drive decision-making and action. It also provides insight into how to know when it is time for your coalition to evolve into a new form, declare success and/or disband.


Managing for Success

Once a coalition starts to operate, it is essential to actively manage it to ensure the ongoing strategic use of resources to achieve the identified goals. To do this, coalition leadership should regularly survey the coalition to ensure that it is healthy and that coalition partners are focused, engaged and that you are all effectively meeting coalition goals. A robust committee structure should be cultivated and regularly reviewed to ensure it adequately reflects coalition strategy. Meetings should be strategic and productive. Further, it will be important for the coalition to develop new leadership and actively plan how to effectively communication to increase impact.

  • Surveying Coalition Health

    Regular review of coalition health is essential to maintaining the infrastructure, cohesion and purpose needed to drive results. Coalition health can be reviewed several different ways: a focus group of coalition partners; informal partner interviews; and online group surveys.    Read More

  • The Art and Science of Effective Committees

    Committees – the rights ones with the right partners with the right charge and good agendas – can significantly enhance coalition work by delving into a particular topic of import and moving the coalition’s goals forward in between full coalition meetings. The types of committees a coalition creates depends largely on the support it needs to operate effectively (e.g. its form, such as steering or fundraising or coalition health committees) and the work it wishes to accomplish (e.g. its function, as detailed in coalition strategy and goals), which will differ coalition to coalition.    Read More

  • Making the Most of Meetings

    Coalition meetings – whether full, steering, data or other committee meetings – are critical to facilitating action and accountability in multi-sector collaboration. Meetings are a time to connect, share information, hear diverse viewpoints, deliberate and create action plans – all important activities to maintain a productive coalition.    Read More

  • Leadership Succession Planning

    In many cases, founding coalition leaders are the individuals who initially identified the need to join forces and called the coalition together. The work does not stop there, though. For a coalition to thrive until it achieves the change it seeks, new leaders must come into the pipeline and have the chance to grow and develop.    Read More

  • Communication Strategies that Work

    Two types of communication are important to sustain a healthy coalition: internal and external. Internal communication – continuous, consistent and open communication within the coalition – is needed to build trust, assure mutually-reinforcing activities and create a common motivation. External communication – strategic and aimed at generating interest and support from donors and external stakeholders – ensures buy-in to the coalition’s mission.    Read More

Using Data to Drive Action

It is important to gather, analyze and compile the right metrics for illustrating impact and this happens simultaneously through planning and trial and error. A data committee with guidelines and a work plan can analyze coalition data at different intervals and create an annual report. The data committee should be charged with using the data to review the impact of the work done, as well as adjust the coalition’s strategic plan for the next year based on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats identified in the analysis.

  • Data-Driven Decision-Making

    Data-driven decision making is often thought of as being much more complicated than it is. However, in reality, you perform data-driven decision-making every time you go to the grocery store. When you shop you have a lot of both quantitative (number) and qualitative (story) data.    Read More

  • Using Data to Plan

    Strategic planning is a process by which a coalition can develop and then reaffirm its shared agenda, outline the goals and activities that, individually and collectively, it believes will yield the community impact it seeks and identify how best to strengthen its infrastructure to support the work of the coalition.    Read More

What’s Next for Your Coalition

One of the most important jobs of any coalition is to decide when the work is done. Making this decision takes the collective will of coalition partners to even raise the question. It also requires the commitment along the way to identify clear goals, create a strong structure to achieve them and gather the right coalition partners that can do the work needed to be successful.    Read More


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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.