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Partnership Pitfall #1: Unclear Purpose

As a coalition or partnership, you likely have a mission statement, perhaps a vision and values, but do you have a clear purpose statement? As a coalition leader, you likely want to do a lot of different things and address many different needs related to your topic area or cause. This can be really exciting but it can also become very overwhelming. This also makes it difficult for your coalition members to understand the role of the coalition overall as well as their role as a coalition member.  When we are overwhelmed and confused about roles and responsibilities, it can be really difficult to figure out how to work together better to accomplish collective goals. If you are struggling with clarifying your purpose as a coalition or partnership, I encourage you to ask the following five overarching questions that can help you become more clear about your purpose. When you are more clear about your purpose, this can help you better recruit and engage your members.

  1. Why do you exist? What is your topic area or cause? What happened to prompt the development of your coalition? What needs are you meeting as a coalition?
  2. What do you do? Be as specific as possible about what your coalition does that relates to your topic area or cause. Are you a convener? Do you implement a specific plan? Do you create networking opportunities or do you provide information about a specific topic?
  3. Who do you do it with? Who are your coalition members? Who works with you as part of your coalition? Who do they represent?
  4. What is your overall goal? Building upon the first three questions, be specific about the direction that you want to go as a coalition. What is your overall goal? What do you want to accomplish?
  5. How do you accomplish your goal? Be specific about how you work toward your goal. This will build upon what you do (see #2). If you are a convener, then describe how you bring the members together and how you work together. If you implement a plan, describe how you implement the plan. 

Here is one example that incorporates these five questions: We are the Northwest Colorectal Cancer Coalition. Our purpose is to increase colorectal cancer screening in our region. We have members that represent non-profit organizations, businesses, government, academia, elected officials, health care systems, survivors and caregivers. Our goal is to convene these groups in order to work together to find collective solutions to the complex challenges that prevent our community members who are not up-to-date with screening from accessing and utilizing colorectal cancer screening.

So what about you? What do you need to do next to become more clear about your purpose?

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Photo by Laurenz Blickwedel on Unsplash

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