Literature Review: Developing a Conceptual Framework to Assess the Sustainability of Community Coalitions Post-Federal Funding. Membership

01/07/2011

Coalition membership includes a variety of organizations in the community that provide time or other resources to the coalition. Butterfoss (2007) noted that coalitions with a diverse membership of community gatekeepers, and professional and other grassroots organizations are most successful. A diverse membership brings a variety of perspectives from different sectors, backgrounds, and constituencies. Hays, Hays, Deville and Mulhall (2000) found that representation of a large number of community sectors was associated with achieving coalition outcomes. Diverse membership may create challenges for the coalition in the short-run (e.g., difficulty in obtaining consensus, divergent perspectives), but facilitates the achievement of community improvements in the long run (Easterling, 2003). 

Other factors that are associated with coalition effectiveness are the number of partners in the membership and the amount of time that member organizations can contribute to the coalition’s activities. There is an inverse relationship between the number of partners and the successful completion of activities: the more partners in the membership, the fewer activities successfully completed by the coalition (Hasnain-Wynia et al., 2003). Additionally, coalitions with a dedicated staff (those who are wholly committed to working on the activities of the coalition) demonstrate more results than coalitions that without their own staff (Wolff, 2001b). 

The expertise of the membership can also affect the success of the coalition. Coalitions benefit from having staff members with experience in community planning and organization, as they understand what is required to engage the community and conduct activities that meet the community’s needs (Butterfoss, 2007; Wolff, 2001b). 

Finally, the commitment of the membership to the coalition and its activities facilitates coalition effectiveness (Butterfoss, 2007).  Research shows member satisfaction is associated with coalition effectiveness, as satisfied members are more invested in the coalition and its activities (Kumpher, Turner, Hopkins, & Librett, 1993).

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