Last fall, we promised to give some thought to a question about finding a permanent “home” for a community coalition that is dedicated to promoting public engagement—and how doing that might help sustain and support the coalition.
Because circumstances vary so much from one community to another, there are no easy answers. You and your coalition must decide for yourselves whether and when it’s time to form an alliance with an established organization—or to set up your own nonprofit. And it’s up to you to decide whether doing this will help breathe new life into the coalition.
As you proceed, remember that you have worked very hard to earn the trust of the people in your community. If you decide to affiliate with another organization, you need to know how people from different parts of the community feel about it. Always be mindful of the issue or issues you have chosen to focus on.
One of the ways to approach this decision is to meet with your coalition members to talk about things like this:
• What are our long-term goals?
• What are the advantages of joining forces with another organization or a public institution? The disadvantages?
• How would this help us sustain our coalition?
• How would our finances and expenses be affected?
• How would this affect the way we work? What impact would it have on staffing?
• What value would be added?
• Why now? Is the timing right? Why, or why not?
We hope that a discussion sparked by these questions will lead to a decision that enables your project to keep on going and growing.
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