#8. Ending the Journey

Bring the journey to a close…

Coalitions shouldn’t last forever and it is important to recognize when it is time to bring the journey to an end.

Determine the life expectancy of your coalition

The goals of the coalition and the timeline it takes to complete these goals should play a big role in deciding how long a coalition should exist. It’s important to remember that members and partner organizations may be more willing to sign-on when there is a clearly defined time frame in which the coalition will be in place. Have coalition leaders meet a few times to define key objectives and end goals of the coalition and use this information to decide on an approximate timeline and end date.

ursula k leguin quote

Disbanding your Coalition

If your coalition has achieved its goals, it’s time to celebrate and end on a high note. On occasion, there is enough momentum behind a coalition that it may move on to tackle a new issue, but the perfect ending is often at the end of a project or when the goal has been carried out. End on a high note and take stock of all the connections made during the process, keeping in mind how these connections may be beneficial in the future.

Sometimes coalitions don’t live up to expectations. If your coalition isn’t meeting goals or is not effective it’s time to discuss options. If you think the conversation might be uncomfortable, here is a resource that may be helpful:

Scott, S. (2004). Fierce conversations: Achieving success at work & in life, one conversation at a time. Penguin. Remember, coalitions consist of people and it’s important to celebrate successes and be understanding and courteous when things don’t go quite as planned. Need some help deciding if it’s time to end the coalition? Here are some classic signs a coalition may no longer be effective (from coalitionswork.com).

  1. Members applaud the coalition’s past, but have little hope for it’s future.
  2. General atmosphere of conflict, discontent and/or malaise exists in the coalition.
  3. Little or no recruitment of new members.
  4. Members rarely or inconsistently attend meetings and events.
  5. Member organizations do not participate in coalition activities.
  6. Leaders and members do not follow through on or share tasks.
  7. Member organizations do not generate in-kind or financial resources for the coalition.
  8. Members do not volunteer to run for elected leadership positions.
  9. Communication among members, staff and members, or the coalition and the community is fragmented or lacking.
  10. Members cannot recall what the coalition has accomplished.
  11. Strategic and Action Plans are not reviewed or renewed.

If more than 6 of these items are true in your coalition it’s probably time to consider disbanding. There’s always the opportunity to rebuild and restart when there is a clearer purpose or opportunity for a coalition in the future.

Don’t forget to Celebrate!

Many coalitions do achieve their goals and contribute to positive changes, improvements, policies, etc. in the community. When things go as planned (and even when they don’t) – make sure to celebrate success!

“Remember, virtually every carefully crafted coalition will have an impact.”

— Mary Ellen Wurtzbach, Community Health Education and Promotion: A Guide to Program Design and Evaluation