Freedom Writer - September 1995 [ref001] Activist's guide:Coalition building A coalition,
Freedom Writer - September 1995
Activist's guide:Coalition building
A coalition, or alliance, consists of individuals or organizations
working together in a common effort for a common purpose to make more
effective and efficient use of resources. (From "Building Coalitions,"
the Ohio Center for Action on Coalition Development, Ohio State University)
How to determine if a coalition is needed
Is the Radical Religious Right organized in your community? If not,
is there a foreseeable threat in the near future?
What exactly is the Religious Right doing in your community? Evangelizing?
Writing letters to the editor? Registering voters? Running school
board candidates? Strictly religious activities, such as evangelizing,
should not be seen as a threat to church/state separation.
Survey your county or city. What other community-based or activist
groups exist and what do they do? Do they work in tandem with other
groups, or independently?
Contact group leaders and discuss the possibility of forming a coalition.
Then decide if there is enough interest. Try to build bridges.
Involve all key players.
Choose a realistic strategy.
Establish a shared vision.
Agree to disagree in the process.
Make promises that can be kept.
Build ownership on all levels.
What a coalition can do
Activity depends upon need, local assets and talent. The purpose should
be to inform and mobilize voters. Education and activism are the two
key words. Some groups emphasize education over activism, or the
other way around. It depends upon how the group is set up. Many groups
don't incorporate, although incorporation should definitely be considered.
Try to get a lawyer pro bono.
Opposition research — local and national activity (equipment required:
386 or 486 computer, database program, printer, fax, phone, copier,
Start a "letters to the editor" file from local paper.
Visit Christian book stores to check bulletin boards and pick up free
Visit politically active churches.
Monitor local Christian radio.
Monitor school board meetings.
Establish a county-wide watchdog system.
Monitor the state legislature.
Action alert phone tree.
Action alert fax network.
Keep the press informed with facts, not fanaticism.
Interview school board candidates
Publish a newsletter
How to start a coalition
Form a core group of three to seven people. Remember, as few as two
or three dedicated people can keep a coalition going. Fundraising:
approach concerned individuals and business owners for contributions
to get started. You can raise quick cash this way. More serious fund-raising
can follow later. Form a fundraising committee. Approach leaders and
directors of other groups who indicate an interest in the coalition.
Discuss possible dates for first meeting. Set a date. Send out letters
announcing meeting date, time and place. Letter should briefly inform
about the purpose of the meeting. Groups MUST RSVP, indicating whom
they will send to represent their group. A registration list is prepared
from the RSVPs. No one should be admitted who is not on the list.
First meeting is informational. An hour and a half at the most. Show
"America at a Crossroads," available from IFAS. Give a brief report
of local Radical Religious Right activity. Propose a name for the
coalition. Have a representative from each group sign up as a group
liaison volunteer. This will be your contact person with an given
group. Second meeting determines officers, job assignments, projects
and time line for completing projects. Meeting schedules and frequencies
will depend upon proposed projects and local Religious Right activity.
Note: Coalitions can be formed for short-term projects or for the
long term, depending on your local situation.
Mainstream Voter's Coalition
People for a Pluralistic Democracy
Mainstream Voter's Project
Community Coalition Network
Committee for Responsible Education
Moderate Voter's Project
Coalition for the Preservation of American Values
How to manage a coalition
The core group will keep everything going. The core group meets as
often as necessary — once a week, three times a week — whatever is
required. Group liaisons are the links to all the groups in the coalition.
The coalition itself usually meets monthly, but it really depends
on the types activity in which the coalition engages. For instance,
if the core group assembles information on the radical right, and
the coalition simply operates a phone tree or fax alert, monthly meetings
may be unnecessary. Communication is the key word.. Use every means
available. both within your coalition and to the general public.
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