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Rural Health Information Hub

Partnerships and Coalitions

Partnerships and coalitions are effective formats in rural communities for sharing scarce human and capital resources. Partnerships can improve and strengthen information exchanges; access to specific expertise; resource allocation; community outreach; trust among interested groups; and buy-in, commitment, and involvement.

Effective community partnerships are formed with organizations that share similar goals and are willing to designate responsibilities for achieving them. Common goals typically focus on broad environmental, policy, and social changes that affect the health and well-being of rural communities.

To identify appropriate partners, organizations should consider the following:

  • Engaging organizations with an established history. Partner organizations should have a history of involvement in similar health activities and with the intended population.
  • Involving partners from unique community sectors. Partners should represent different sectors of the community such as local businesses in the private sector, trade organizations, and social clubs. This can improve the reach of the program.
  • Identify platforms for information sharing. Information sharing maintains transparency among coalition members. Simple platforms may be most effective for sharing data and information among partners.
  • Identifying strengths and weaknesses. Identify strengths and weaknesses in the coalition and seek technical expertise as needed.
  • Remaining flexible. Remain flexible and creative when establishing meeting schedules, locations, and venues to accommodate member organizations.
  • Involving coalition partners early. Include partners in program planning so that they are involved throughout the lifespan of the program, and afterwards.

Resources to Learn More

The Community Tool Box: Chapter 5 – Section 5. Coalition Building 1: Starting a Coalition
Discusses what a community coalition is and why it is a good strategy when working toward a common goal. Offers information on when to start one, who should be included, and the process of implementation.
Organization(s): University of Kansas Work Group for Community Health and Development

Collaborative Leadership: Partnerships between Regional Development Organizations and Community Foundations
Explores the strategies and rewards realized by eight partnerships between community foundations and regional development organizations (RDOs) in Alabama, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina, Virginia, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
Organization(s): National Association of Development Organizations (NADO)
Date: 7/2012

Developing Effective Coalitions: The 8-Step Process
Includes information on prevention fundamentals for health, safety, and well-being, as well as the use of community values to create common ground for partnership and coalition development, strengthen ties, achieve group results, and keep communities engaged in health initiatives.
Organization(s): Prevention Institute

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP)
Offers a strategic planning process for community health promotion. Describes the MAPP process and provides links to additional information and resources, including a MAPP handbook.
Organization(s): National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO)

Tools & Resources
Includes a collection of coalition-related resources and tools such as a checklist for coalition core competencies, an example coalition commitment letter, coalition assessments, and tools related to coalition leadership.
Organization(s): County Health Rankings & Roadmaps