When we bring together multi-passionate people toward a common cause, there is an endless number of things that we could be doing. No matter what your area of interest and focus is, there are so many needs and opportunities that it is easy to become overwhelmed by all of the possibilities. When you try to do it all, you can easily become overwhelmed and most of the burden will likely fall on your staff. Most of my work has been in the area of cancer coalitions. While it may seem like a focused topic, there are many different aspects – from preventing or reducing risk, finding it early, treating it well and caring for those who have cancer. Each of these aspects have multiple factors to consider and partners to engage. While we would love to be able to address all aspects at the same time, there is never enough funding or capacity to do it well. Although there is no one “right answer” to figuring out what you really need to be doing as a coalition, today’s post will provide three questions to ask to figure it out for you!
What is the greatest need?
When considering your coalition’s purpose and focus, what aspect of the work has the greatest need? Look at available data sources, including community perspectives, and see what need(s) are the greatest right now. Although you may have pressure from a few passionate people who want to prioritize their issue above all the others, take time to review, listen and learn what needs are the greatest from multiple and diverse perspectives.
Where are there opportunities?
Since you are working as a coalition, you want to focus on work that can be done collectively. If the greatest need is already being addressed or led by another coalition, consider either working with that coalition or choosing another need that is not being addressed. Although your coalition may have focused on addressing a particular need for several years, if someone else is now providing leadership, this may be a great time to consider new opportunities. You also want to consider whether there are things that you know will work to address those needs. Reflect upon the types of things that your coalition could do that may have been done in another similar setting or context. If someone else has learned from an experience, consider how to apply and tailor those lessons to your situation.
What is your capacity?
Consider your sources of funding, current staffing, your coalition interests and level of engagement. One of the easiest ways to become overwhelmed is to try to take on more than you have capacity to do. Although you may want to host five workgroups that meet every month and bring together your overall coalition four to five times a year that includes an annual summit, this may not align with your current capacity. If you only have the capacity to focus on two or three areas right now, be honest about it and choose two to three areas right now. Discuss the capacity constraints with your coalition and let them be part of the decision-making process.
As you reflect on these questions, which question will you reflect upon this week for your coalition? What needs to be asked in order to get clear on what you need to be doing?
If you are ready to discuss this further, join me for my next FREE Live Masterclass, Who is working on what