Coalition. We hear the word a lot. Coalition of the Willing. Christian Coalition. Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Coalition Against Gun Violence. 25 million hits for the word on Google. Why are there so many? What are the benefits? Disadvantages? How does an organization decide whether to join?
Coalitions are a group of like-minded people aligning themselves long-term to meet common goals. Nonprofits form coalitions to provide services, to educate the public, or to advocate for public policy. But before jumping into a relationship with another organization, it's important to think through all the implications to ensure you are maximizing the benefits to your stakeholders.
Even the most lackadaisical reader will have noticed the word “potential.” There is one simple reason for this - I am a big fan of coalitions, and all the following issues can be avoided with proper planning and communication.
After an organization weighs all the benefits and potential disadvantages of a coalition, it may decide that a coalition is not the best strategy and, instead, a better option would be an alliance (which is a looser association than a coalition) or a network (which is more short-term than a coalition). I am as big a fan of these types of associations as well, because any partnership will increase the number of people and ideas involved and may decrease costs for individual organizations. Therefore joining any well-managed partnership will help maximize a nonprofit's benefits for its stakeholders – which is what mission-based organizations are all about.
I love figuring out how things work. I read instruction manuals for new gadgets - paying special attention to the "troubleshooting" section so I can anticipate potential problems. I drive my chiropractor nuts asking questions about why he is adjusting "this" joint to help "that" pain. And although I suspect she is exaggerating, my mom swears that my first word was “why?”
It's this passion for understanding what makes things tick that led me to the field of organizational development. That, and working for nonprofits for most of my life. Nonprofits fulfill a vital place in our society – by providing services, educating the public, or being a voice for others. But like other types of organizations, sometimes nonprofits are inefficient, and I wanted to understand not only why this was happening, but how to change it. When nonprofits are overwhelmingly underfunded and understaffed and very mission driven, how do you convince them that spending time on self-reflection and planning now will increase efficiency in the long run? How to make them understand that good intentions do not exempt them from being a sound organization - having structures, policies, and processes?
I find its best to focus on the long-term gains of an organizational assessment and strategic planning process. What future pain will disappear by making an adjustment now? What problems reoccur that the organization should be able to anticipate? With smaller staff, polices and processes become more important because nonprofits have high turn-over rates that result in inefficiencies if the organization isn't structured to deal with this. In addition, tighter budgets mean nonprofits have less wiggle room for mistakes and a greater need to maximize limited resources. In the worst-case scenario, lack of clear policies can result in scandal. Nonprofits need to take the time to ask themselves the following types of questions:
By taking the time to think through these questions and undertake a thorough organizational assessment, a nonprofit can begin to determine where it excels in meeting its mission – and where it can improve. Yes, it takes time to time examine the “why” in the short-run in order to identify gaps and develop structures, processes, and policies and develop a strategic plan. But in the long-run, this extra time will result in increased efficiencies for the nonprofit, which translates to better services to its stakeholders. And that is the "why" we all work for nonprofits, isn't it?
I’m a “passionate geek” about advocacy. A citizen’s right to tell her elected officials what she wants is, to me, an essential part of democracy. Google any political or social issue and you will find someone who advocates for or against it. The environment. The second amendment. Education. Foreign Affairs. Public Safety. Infrastructure. Animal Rights.
Advocacy is voting intensified. It’s freedom of speech. If you're in a group, it is freedom of assembly and association. It’s how we tell the government to spend money and shape policy in order to better reflect our values.
And I love it.
The fact that Chicago’s history tells the story of important social movements only fuels my passion. From Jane Adams’ fight for women’s suffrage to the Rainbow PUSH Coalition’s work for peace and justice and many others in between, there is a rich history of advocacy in my city. Oh, and if you get into strategizing about the “how to” of an advocacy campaign – my geek takes over again. What will be the most effective message? Who will be the best spokesperson? How should a nonprofit get the attention of government officials to advocate for a policy change?
Advocacy options are never ending:
The list of tactics could go on and on – almost as long as I could wax poetic about advocacy. And all of this “geeky passion” made it very difficult to figure out where to start writing a blog about advocacy – then it hit me. It’s passion. Strategic planning is important but its passion that attracts volunteers. Passion helps create effective messages. Passion gives your team the drive to keep going after you stumble.
Passion is the key to effective advocacy.
Blogging during this period can be found on my campaign page at
Every Chicago Public School has a Local School Council (LSC) - this information was written as a handout to be given to people who live within the boundaries of Albany Park Multicultural Academy, Hibbard Elementary, and Roosevelt High School. If you aren't sure what your school boundaries are, you can enter your address here to find out:
Monday, April 7 – Albany Park Multicultural Academy, and Hibbard Elementary
Tuesday, April 8 – Roosevelt High School
Polls open 6 am – 7 pm
What is a Local School Council (LSC)? LSCs were created to give the community oversight of our schools. Every Chicago Public School has an LSC made up of parents, community members, school teachers/staff, and in high schools, students. The LSC:
1.Approves the school budget and expenses;
2.Monitors the school’s work plan; and
3.Evaluates the principal’s performance.
Who can vote? Anyone over 18 who lives in the school’s boundaries. You do not need to be a parent or citizen. Each school hosts the vote for its own LSC so you must visit each school where you want your voice heard. Be sure to bring ID!
Please Vote For:
Eric Filson – Hibbard Elementary Community Rep. Candidate – Eric would like to work to secure new revenue sources for after school programs for the students and to increase cooperation between local LSCs. Eric is a member of Albany Park Neighbors (APN) and West River Park Improvement Association.
Casey Smagala – Roosevelt HS Community Rep. Candidate – Casey is a North Park University (NPU) graduate and an Albany Park Community Center (APCC) employee. As a LSC member he will build stronger connections between RHS families and APCC services such as Workforce Development, GED classes, ESL courses, Citizenship resources, and more. Casey will support extracurricular activities as pillars of the learning environment. He is also a member of the Albany Park Neighbors, volunteer for the Albany Park Chamber of commerce, and a service learning coordinator at NPU.
Annisa Wanat – Albany Park Multicultural Academy Community Rep. Candidate – Annisa currently sits on the LSC and is running so she can continue to help ensure the students in our community have access to a quality education. She would also reach out to various groups in our diverse neighborhood with an eye to developing opportunities for the school to serve as a hub for positive social change and development in our community. Annisa is a member of APN and West River Park Improvement Association. Annisa's candidate statement can be downloaded at the bottom of the page.
¿Qué es un Consejo Escolar Local (LSC)? Los CEJ se crearon para dar la supervisión de la comunidad de nuestras escuelas. Todas las escuelas públicas de Chicago tiene un LSC formado por padres, miembros de la comunidad, maestros/personal, y en las escuelas secundarias, estudiantes.
La LSC :
1. Aprueban el presupuesto de la escuela y los gastos;
2. Monitorean planes de trabajo de la escuela; y
3. Evalúan el desempeño del director.
¿Quién puede votar? Cualquier persona mayor de 18 años que vive en los límites de la escuela. Usted no necesita ser un padre o ciudadano. Cada escuela recibe el voto de su propia LSC en la cual usted quiere que su voz sea escuchada. Asegúrese de traer identificación!
Por favor vote por:
Eric Filson – Hibbard Primaria Comunidad Rep. Candidato – Eric le gustaría trabajar para asegurar nuevas avenidas de ingresos para los programas después de clases para los estudiantes y para aumentar la cooperación entre LSCs locales. Eric es un miembro de Albany Park Neighbors (APN) y el West River Park Improvement Association.
Casey Smagala – Roosevelt SA Comunidad Rep. Candidato – Casey es un graduado de North Park University (NPU) y un empleado de Albany Park Community Center (APCC). Como miembro de LSC Casey construirá conexiones más fuertes entre las familias de RHS y servicios APCC como Desarrollo de la Fuerza Laboral , clases de GED , cursos de inglés como segundo idioma, los recursos de la ciudadanía , y más. Casey apoyará actividades extracurriculares como pilares del ambiente de aprendizaje. Él es también un miembro de Albany Park Neighbors, voluntario para el Albany Park Chamber of Commerce, y un coordinador de aprendizaje servicio en North Park University.
Annisa Wanat – Albany Park Multicultural Academy Comunidad Rep. Candidato – Annisa es miembro de la LSC y está en ejecución para que pueda seguir ayudando a asegurar que los estudiantes de nuestra comunidad tengan acceso a una educación de calidad. También le gustaria llegar a varios grupos en nuestro barrio diverso, con la vista puesta en el desarrollo de oportunidades para la escuela para servir como un centro para el cambio social positivo y desarrollo de nuestra comunidad. Annisa es un miembro de APN y el West River Park Improvement Association.