NOTE: Every community has a unique way of bringing people together to work on health issues, ranging from informal groups of leaders to voluntary coalitions to formal alliances. For the purpose of this guidance, we will refer to any such group as a “partnership.”
The County Health Rankings illustrate that everyone has a role to play in improving the health of communities. Research shows us that working together can yield better results than working alone.1, 2 Big changes in communities – the kinds of changes that make a real impact on the health of communities – come out of multi-sector collaboration rather than from the isolated interventions of individual organizations. Read more about the impact and characteristics of effective multi-sector collaborations in Collective Impact.1
As you work to improve health in your community, your partnership will be stronger if it includes people from multiple sectors AND people most affected by the problem.
The following are key steps for strategically recruiting diverse stakeholders to your partnership:
- Consider whether your partnership reflects the demographic make-up of your community and work to meaningfully engage culturally and racially diverse members.
- Leverage a diverse set of skills and expertise to help your partnership work to advance health for all in your community. A Practitioner’s Guide for Advancing Health Equity provides guidance and ideas for developing partnerships as well as questions for reflection (pp. 14-17).
- Engage new groups especially those interested in policy or systems change. Building a Contact List can help you brainstorm and recruit diverse partners.
- Recruitment is an ongoing process, so keep reaching out to organizations and community members to build additional skills, knowledge, resources, and involvement in policy and systems change. Build relationships as you go. Even if someone says they don’t wish to become involved at this time, they may be able and willing to help at some future point or to share insights about other potential partners.
- Consider the culture of your partnership. How will you welcome and mentor new members in a way that will help them become engaged and active members rather than observers? Read more about this in Build relationships and Reinforce healthy partnership practices.
- Stay open to recruiting new members. Membership may need to change over time as the focus narrows to specific policies or systems changes, requiring different expertise or influence in the group. Adapt the Coalition Core Competencies Checklist with your partnership to discuss where your strengths are and where additional skills, knowledge, and/or resources may be needed.
- If you want to recruit a new individual or organization to your coalition, Effective Recruitment of Coalition Members helps you analyze “what’s in it for them?”
1. Kania J, Kramer M. Collective Impact. Stanford Social Innovation Review 2011.
2. Ernst C, Chrobot-Mason D. Boundary Spanning Leadership. United States of America: McGraw-Hill; 2011.