Components of an Effective Coalition

Clear Organizational Structure

  • To be effective, coalitions require:
    • A strong and stable organizational structure that clarifies roles and procedures, and adequately addresses task and maintenance function
    • A formalized set of structures and practices, such as written roles and procedures (such as bylaws)
    • Management strategies that include effective communication, conflict resolution, perception of fairness, and shared decision-making
  • Organizational effectiveness is related to positive work climate, higher member satisfaction, better communication among committee members, stronger linkages with community organizations, and less conflict.
  • Effective leadership, opportunities for leadership development, and staff support are frequently identified as the most essential elements of an effective coalition.
  • Effective leaders are open, task-oriented, and supportive of the group.

Membership Capacity to do the Work

  • Key coalition members must have a clear understanding of the coalition development process and a basic knowledge of prevention planning and concepts.
  • The community must have an appropriate level of readiness to ensure ownership and commitment to act on substance misuse issues. Learn more about assessing community resources and readiness.
  • Adequate time and staff support are necessary for effective coalition development, planning, and activities.
  • Coalitions require a common vision, high quality communication, strong relationships both internally and externally, targeted outcomes, and human and financial resources to be effective.


To be sustained over time, coalitions must:

  • Develop and employ a process for leader succession and recruitment of new members
  • Provide recognition and renewal to coalition members to increase energy and reduce burnout
  • Continuously integrate the coalition’s goals and strategies into the missions of their own organizations
  • Develop diversified funding streams to ensure balance and commitment to coalition activities and actions


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Center for Prevention Research and Development. (2006) Evidence-Based Practices for Effective Community Coalitions. Champaign, IL: Center for Prevention Research and Development, Institute of Government and Public Affairs, University of Illinois.

Florin, P., Mitchell, R., Stevenson, J., & Klein, I. (2000). Predicting intermediate outcomes for prevention coalitions: A developmental perspective. Evaluation and Program Planning, 23, 341–346.

Foster-Fishman, P. G., Berkowitz, S. L., Lounsbury, D. W., Jacobson, S., & Allen, N. A. (2001). Building collaborative capacity in community coalitions: A review and integrative framework. American Journal of Community Psychology, 29 (2), 241–261.

Kegler, M. C., Twiss, J. M., & Look, V. (2000). Assessing community change at multiple levels: The genesis of an evaluation framework for the California Healthy Cities Project. Health, Education & Behavior, 27, 760-779.

Kegler, M. C., Steckler, A., McLeroy, K., & Malek, S. H. (1998). Factors that contribute to effective community health promotion coalitions: A study of 10 Project ASSIST coalitions in North Carolina. Health Education and Behavior, 25 (3), 338–353.

Merzel, C., & D’Afflitti, J (2003). Reconsidering community-based health promotion: Promise, performance and potential. American Journal of Public Health, 93, 557-574.

Prestby, J.E., Wandersman, A., Florin, P., Rich, R., & Chavis, D. (1990). Benefits, costs, incentive management and participation in voluntary organizations: A means to understanding and promoting empowerment. American Journal of Community Psychology, 18, 117–149.

Last Updated: 09/24/2015