Forming Coalitions

Coalition Building There is strength in numbers. Consider aligning your organization (yacht club, sailing association, fishing group, etc…) with other like-minded groups to form a coalition as lawmakers are more likely to listen to an organization representing 100 constituents with a consistent message than a single individual.

Is it solely a boating issue or is it part of a broader topic such as zoning, conservation, public access, general taxation? Bring various groups or individuals under "one umbrella." Uniting around a common, broad-based goal, (e.g., "protecting public access to Big Bay" or "continued funding for state boating programs") or engaging in joint activities (shore clean-up, marsh grass planting) are great ways to form coalitions.

Find Your Allies

Who are likely allies? Who else has a stake in your issue? (Marina operators, boat dealerships, retailers, yacht clubs, service organizations, US Power Squadrons or USCG Auxiliary, state marine trade associations, chambers of commerce)

Bring them together: Host an event to get likely allies talking with each other.

The internet has made this a lot easier (search Web sites, news articles, discussion boards, e-mail list serves); post a query on one of the message boards.

State marine trade associations, state boating agencies may know of organizations likely to join your cause.

Establish the Coalition

Pick a name that is short but descriptive of the group. Select officers, if necessary and especially a "point person" who will handle communications among coalition members, such as group e-mail.

Stay Focused

Coalition representatives should meet on some sort of regular basis (monthly, quarterly) to keep lines of communication open, should a crisis arise.

Consider periodic joint events to keep your coalition active (fund-raisers, work days, public education events, letter-writing campaigns)

Review coalition goals periodically; revise as new conditions arise (changes in state and local government, coalition member organizations added, new issues/threats develop)

Be willing to evolve; the issues that brought groups together may change or be resolved; don't worry – the next issue is probably right around the corner!