Do you have the right balance between coalition and member voices?
One of the most powerful aspects of a coalition is the capacity to project a strong unified voice across a wide number of countries. The membership gives a coalition its reach and the coordination gives a coalition its unified voice. Most often it will be the members that actually do most of the coalition’s work at the national level.
“Having a single message from a large coalition of NGOs can be very powerful if expressed by all of the members all of the time and towards lots of different targets. But this is probably only going to be the very top line advocacy message. Among coalition members there will be different specialisms on different specific issues. It’s important to give people the freedom to do the talking on these specific issues while being part of the coalition.”
Richard Bennett, Effective Collectives
Some coalitions undertake collectively organised events such as global days of action where members around the world take similar, concerted, action on or around the same day or week (IANSA, CMC, ICAN). At the same time, members will often develop their national strategies and adapt them to their own context.
There is great power in having NGOs giving the same message to different governments all around the world, though sometimes the messages and approaches will need to be tailored for particular countries. Sometimes the coalition voice will have much more influence on the target audience than an individual member’s voice, sometimes it will be the other way around.
While coalitions may be able to rally all of their members around one common call, individual members will have their own way of expressing this call and may have particular issues that they wish to raise in relation to it. It is important to have the flexibility that enables members to do this and for them to be able to define their own approach and freedom to express their views in a manner that is appropriate for their individual context.