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Coalition building: measuring success

When is your coalition succesful?
2 min read
Last update: Jul 1, 2023

In this guide we explain what makes coalitions successful.

📚 This guide is part of a series on coalition building.

When building a networked coalition it is important to keep in mind how we might measure its success. Power in Coalition (2010) argues that any powerful coalition has two measures for success.

The first is about the social change it achieves. Does the coalition stop the mine or win the public education reform? Any social change goal has two elements to it. One is the win itself, and the second is whether (or to what degree) that win shifted the political climate. In Australia, for instance, the political win on the Carbon Tax in 2014 was good, but brief (it was abolished in 2016). In contrast, a win on stopping the Adani mine may turn around coal mining. Both may be wins, but the political climate question adds greater understanding of their success.

The second is about the social power it builds. Coalitions might win policy reforms, but they also must build the democratic engine room that fuels and sustains that social change. This is what this measure is about. Two elements are particularly important. The first is: how has the coalition improved the quality of the relationships between the member organisations? Is this network of relationships stronger having been in coalition (or conversely are they all sick of each other)? The quality of this network speaks to the capacity of the coalition to act in the future. Secondly, how has the coalition developed leadership? This could be in staff, but ideally is also in volunteer leaders distributed across the network.

Table of Coalition success

Social Change

(mobilising power)

Social Power

(organising power)


Shifting the political climate

Stronger relationships between network partners/organisations

More leaders with more skills

Adapted from Power in Coalition (2010), Tattersall.

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