SOME ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS OF
THE FOUR "C"s 
Four key components of coalition-building --conditions, commitment, contributions and competence -- must be assessed at each stage of development. First, political, economic and community conditions must be right. Second, there must be a core group of people committed to achieve the goal. Third, they must be able to contribute and/or recruit from others the necessary ideology, power, and resources to reach the goal; and fourth, have the competence to manage both the social change strategy and the coalition's internal development.
Conditions must be right in order to successfully form a coalition or collaboration. Some conditions to consider include:
· Ability of the initiating groups to muster broad support
· Community climate and receptivity
· Feasibility of winning
· External political and economic realities
· Past experiences with interorganizational relationships
· Past relationship with social change target
· The timing of coalescence and activities
· The urgency of the social change goal
· Relevance of the issue
· Type and level of resources available to the participating organizations
Once a coalition begins, other conditions become pertinent:
Is the relationship between the coalition and the social change target adversarial, neutral or advisory?
Does the goal generate momentum, support and sustained participation amidst changing conditions?
Do external or internal factors hinder or enhance participation by collaboration members?
Is the coalition leadership competent at managing the collaboration?
Coalition progress requires a core group committed to stay with the effort until the goal is achieved. Since coalitions are by nature diverse, not all member organizations have the same incentives for participation. There are usually differences in the type, source, level and intensity of commitment brought to a collaboration by different members. Recognizing and addressing these differences can be vital for coalition development.
TYPE OF COMMITMENT:
Pragmatism/ Self-interest: quest for resources and power
To obtain something for their organization or constituency
To obtain something tangible for themselves as an individual
To enhance agency or professional reputation or credibility
To gain protection in a shared stance
To obtain information or contacts
Ideology/ Altruism: value-based commitment to a cause or public interest
To do innovative or creative work
To promote a particular political or religious ideology
To do good work to benefit others
To further civic duty or pride
SOURCE OF COMMITMENT:
Commitment to the cause/goal (collaboration is a means to an end)
Commitment to the process of collaboration (collaboration is an end in itself)
LEVEL OF COMMITMENT:
High / low
Short term / long term
Initiating / sustaining
INTENSITY OF COMMITMENT: (This can change over time) Participant views the collaboration as:
a top priority
one of many activities
of limited interest
useful only for appearances
politically necessary, but uncomfortable
TO MAXIMIZE COMMITMENT TO THE COALITION:
· Structure opportunities for multiple levels of commitment.
· Clarify what kind and level of commitment is desirable and how it should be demonstrated.
· Encourage collaborators to articulate the basis and extent of their commitment.
· Provide a variety of incentives to sustain participation, addressing the actual motivation of the members.
· Plan for fluctuations in commitment over time.
· Address the need for protection of members.
What does the coalition need to succeed? The joy of collaborating is that different parties bring different kinds of contributions to the joint effort. Good planning will ensure that the collaboration contains a winning "mix" of contributions. Contributions may be categorized as resources, ideology, or power.
- access to key individuals / social change target
- access to large constituency
- contacts with additional coalition members or allies
- legitimacy, reputation
- expertise in coalition work
- expertise on the issue
- financial support or fundraising capability
- managerial skills
- media contacts and expertise
- political influence with the social change target
- space, equipment
- competent staff, volunteers
- a broad framework or vision for the collaboration
- a tone for the process of interaction and decision-making
- beliefs that fuel lasting commitment
- strong values
- credibility, moral suasion
- large organization
- important constituency
- control of punishment, rewards, symbols, information
Over time, the need for different types and levels of contributions changes. Once incorporated, these new constellations may alter coalition structure and dynamics. If contributions are insufficient, the coalition will have to:
· compromise its position, settle for less, or limit or change its goal.
· rearrange, replace, or recruit membership and/or increase or
recruit new contributions.
BALANCING DIFFERENTIAL CONTRIBUTIONS: It is unrealistic to assume that contributions will be made to the coalition without expectations about both the cost and rewards to the contributors. Decisions about the distribution of pay-offs or rewards for coalition involvement must be made.
To avoid conflict over differential contributions and rewards from members:
· Assess the amount and kinds of contributions needed at each stage of development.
· Clarify expectations about minimum contributions and ratio of contributions to rewards.
· Find ways to make different types of contributions equivalent.
· Balance contributions with rewards so that participants can each feel appreciated and share ownership of the project.
Coalitions require different types of leaders and different kinds of leadership skills. Leadership can be paid by the coalition, donated by member organizations or provided by a sponsoring agency. Leaders must approach collaborations in a nonhierarchical manner, and possess good "process" and strategic skills.
LEADERSHIP ROLES TO INCLUDE IN A COLLABORATION:
Facilitators/chairpersons - to guide meetings, clarify agendas, suggest approaches, coordinate the work to be done and keep the group moving ahead. Often it is the chairperson who serves as main point of contact for the collaboration.
Communicators -- to maintain open, multidirectional lines of communication between the coalition itself, its members and their organizations, by calling, meeting, and sending written materials, or otherwise engaging in a communication exchange.
Process (feelings) watchers -- to pay attention to the emotional climate, to maintain equality of participation among members, and to suggest changes to keep the group functioning harmoniously.
Note Takers -- to record process and outcome of coalition deliberations. Since there are diverse interpretations of reality, and many parties to share in communications; this increases the importance of good minutes and records.
Representatives from each level of the collaboration -- to integrate the work being done at each level, and to represent the ideas and issues of each dimension to the others -- e.g. to represent committee work at the steering committee or Board level.
Spokesperson -- to deal with and present the coalition’s position / image to the public, the social change target, the media and outside groups.
Visionary -- to inspire diverse groups to unite around a common issue.
Strategist -- to help establish goals, targets, tactics, drawing upon good political and negotiating skills.
EFFECTIVE COALITION LEADERS KNOW HOW TO:
· cultivate internal harmony among collaborators, as well as progress toward external goals.
· help diverse participants achieve consensus on goals, strategies, actions, and other coalition business.
· find ways to interest and sustain the participation of diverse collaboration partners.
· design effective strategies that allow differential participation among members.
· tactfully air and mediate conflicts.
· possess good negotiating skills.
· maintain and enforce a vision of the whole collaboration, while paying attention to each part
· create a sense of ownership and empowerment among coalition members.
Varied COMPETENCIES are required for different collaboration leadership functions.
SKILLS NEEDED TO GET THE JOB DONE (TASK SKILLS):
relating to and addressing the media
advocacy and lobbying
leading productive meetings
political and strategic acumen
planning and forecasting
research and needs assessment
sense of timing and strategic ability
SKILLS NEEDED TO WORK EFFECTIVELY WITH OTHERS IN THE COLLABORATION (PROCESS SKILLS):
balance different priorities.
elicit everybody's input and craft a common plan of action
perseverance and patience
sensitivity to racial, ethnic, class and gender differences
strong interpersonal abilities
vision and articulation of a larger whole in which each
participant can contribute what they do or know best
 Adapted from Mizrahi, T. and Rosenthal, B. (1986). Social change coalitions: toward a synthesis of theory and practice. Unpublished Paper.