Starting a new coalition or picking up where someone left off is always uncharted territory. The ins and outs of a coalition can become complex and convoluted. What you know is that you’ve agreed to facilitate this group of people to address a common goal. Now what?
Here are four easy tips for effective coalition facilitation to get you started:
1. Understand your Role
A coalition facilitator is responsible for running the coalition’s meetings. This person should be very knowledgeable about the group members, their dynamics, and the goals of the coalition. A facilitator hosts discussions foster group interactions and provide conflict resolution support when needed. Facilitators keep track of agendas, notes, and background materials. They oversee the distribution of follow-up messages and communicate the next steps. The facilitator role can rotate among members or agencies. Although, depending on the coalition, it will sometimes be the same person.
2. Define the Purpose
You need to identify the purpose of each meeting. The meetings need to be centered around ensuring the mission of the coalition. But what does that entail? Each meeting will typically have the following elements:
Announcement of the mission statement or current goals
You should consistently refer to supporting documents to ground the purpose of your meeting. For example, the Community Needs Assessment is a foundational document directing the efforts of your community. You can also think of the SMART goals outlined to attain your goals. Consider: What are the steps the coalition needs to take to reach these goals?
You can also consider the coalition’s annual events, community events, and local organizations’ programming events to define the purpose of the meeting. For example, Girls on The Run ends with the children running a 5k. What can your coalition do to be involved with these activities? Ensure these events are central to the mission of the coalition.
3. Delegate Roles & Responsibilities
Each coalition member will come with their own skillsets, knowledge, and experience. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of each member will be critical to the functioning of the coalition. As the facilitator, you can establish the roles and responsibilities of members during the meetings. For example, one member might be taking notes, one member monitoring the chat, while another member is providing technical assistance. Each person can have a role, but it is up to you to delegate that task.
4. Provide Access to Materials
As a facilitator, you are often in charge of gathering agenda items and developing other materials for the meeting. Coalitions often forget to share the meeting materials and supporting documents with their members, which may lead to disengagement due to uninformed members. Sharing documents ensures agreement amongst the team, transparency of efforts, quality record keeping, and more. Materials can be stored in a place that is easy for everyone to access, such as Google Drive or Dropbox. This is a central part of maintaining a coalition.
These four simple tips will assist you in kick-starting your coalition facilitation. Remember, you can do this! Many others have come before you and led coalitions with great success. With a little help & support, you will too! If you are looking for some support facilitating your coalition, look no further. Strategic Prevention Solutions has years of experience with coalition leadership, meeting facilitation, evaluation, and coalition development. Work with us to fulfill your coalition needs.
For more information on developing coalitions, check out Developing Effective Coalitions: An Eight-Step Guide by The Prevention Institute. If you have more advice to add on effective coalition facilitation or if you have a question, be sure to comment below!