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Developing Partnerships for Action and Advocacy - Best Practice Guidelines

***Build Coalitions in good times. When a critical issue arises it's much easier to mobilize supportive partners who are already in place. When developing a partnership, consider the following five points.

  1. Choose unifying issues. The most effective coalitions come together in response to common issues. Early in the process make sure the development of group goals and objectives is a joint process. Focus on a single message as much as possible.
  2. Respect and understand your partners' interests and processes. Acknowledge the diversity of each partner. Use diversity to stimulate discussion, not divide forward progress. There must be a balance between the goals and needs of the coalition and those of the individual organizations. Recognize each group’s internal processes.
  3. Formalize your partnership. Explicit agreements are important. Ensure that each party understands their responsibilities and rights to avoid conflict. Secure an adequate, consistent financial base to support your operation. Structure your decision-making carefully. Consensus decision making is important when working as a coalition. Common ground must be the goal by means of debate, discussion and effective listening.
  4. Communicate openly and freely with everyone. Open communication is essential to a successful partnership. Make sure all lines of communication are functioning well within and among the partners, with the media, and with the community. Make sure that all members of the coalition are recognized – even for the small tasks.
  5. Determine expectations. Specify your outcome measures. Figure out what data you will gather and how you will be objective. Determine your means for analysis.


  • More efficient allocation of resources
  • Less duplication of services
  • Wider geographic coverage

Possible Challenges

  • Domination by one partner
  • Losing focus
  • Leadership issues
  • Turf issues

This information is available to download in document format (DOC).

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

A Memorandum of Understanding can be a great resource for setting expectations and assuring that everyone is on the same page with your partnerships. There is a great sample MOU located here.

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