Political candidates succeed when they organize, energize and mobilize their coalitions. The same holds true for issue campaigns. Whether it’s the drive to pass legislation in Congress or a statehouse, or to add a ballot referendum to the next election, issue campaigns also succeed when stakeholders are organized, energized and mobilized.
This works best when like-minded interests join together to launch a coalition.
Coalitions are typically organized as non-profits and have a clearly defined mission: to advocate for policy that advances a specific interest. Many coalitions are long-standing and well known, such as the NRA or the AARP. Others are organized to support or defeat a particular policy. Once they succeed, they may fade away.
Beyond a clearly defined mission, the hallmarks of a successful coalition are:
- A broad-based membership of stakeholders who share the coalition’s objective. On a measure impacting patient access, for instance, coalition members would include not only patient organizations but also those representing health care providers, caregivers, employers, veterans, manufacturers and other stakeholders.
- A narrative that compels policymakers to take action. Through the coalition, stakeholders collectively weave a narrative about why action is necessary. Imagine, for example, if local public schools are subpar. A coalition of parents, teachers and employers might advance a narrative of how better-performing schools would create more opportunities for graduates and boost economic vitality in the community. The real-life stories of coalition members illustrate the narrative and lay out the rationale for policymakers to take action by supporting or opposing certain legislation or regulation.
- Strong management. Someone has to be in charge. The priorities of the coalition should be set by its steering committee but, at the end of the day, the coalition’s programming requires a professional management team with the tools and expertise to implement the coalition’s strategic plan. Knowing how to produce impactful events, develop educational materials, engage the media and manage successful advocacy initiatives must be core competencies of the management team.
Political campaigns are known by their candidate. Issue campaigns are defined by their coalition. Woodberry Associates specializes in building successful coalitions that can drive meaningful change for issue campaigns. Contact us today to explore your coalition management needs.