Broadly speaking coalitions include both formal alliances of ‘lobbying together’ as well as informal alliances whereby groups mobilize over the pursuit of some shared goal in the policymaking process. The mobilization of more groups amplifies the resources directed toward a common goal. Coalitions provide a low-cost way for groups to expand their lobbying efforts by sharing advocacy resources, both financial resources directed towards lobbying as well as non-tangible resources such as intelligence and expertise. Moreover, a greater diversity of actors involved brings a wider spectrum of resources to the lobbying table. Forming coalitions helps groups to amplify – or ‘leverage’ – their influence over the policymaking process,  open new channels of access to policymakers, and increase the credibility of their claims.

  1. Coalitions can undertake a wide range of specific advocacy and campaigning activities to achieve their goals. A key role for a coalition is to build a platform for these activities, to give advice and in some cases determine which actions will have the greatest impact at a given point in time on a given target.
  2. Coalitions can exercise influence by acting as vehicles that focus the voices and actions of their many constituents and amplifying them.
  3. Coalitions that are able to draw on and activate their individual members in many different capital cities have an advantage when it comes to lobbying a range of countries on a specific issue.
  4. Coalition unity, not just a unified message but also a common sense of belonging, is very important. Bringing people together makes them feel they are part of a collective effort.
  5. Within a coalition there will be many individuals with impressive personal credentials, experience and advocacy skills. Coalitions often work to make sure that these different individuals are used to best effect by setting up meetings that match their skills and profiles with the different individuals and organisations that the coalition is trying to influence.
  6. Coalitions bring multiple perspectives. For any complex policy solution, multiple points of view bring a better solution and give credibility to the government and the public that the solution has been well thought out. Consequently, what comes out of the internal arguments concerning all the multiple perspectives, is hopefully a consensus and a cohesive group lobby effort. Consensus and cohesion is the number one requirement for any group wanting to successfully lobby government.
  7. Resource sharing divides costs among all participants and makes expertise of all firms more broadly available. Engaging professional lobbyists, preparing communications materials and policy research studies are expensive. Sharing the cost across a wider base of participants makes economic sense. The contribution of expertise from across the membership base is also a very valuable factor to consider when forming an alliance.
  8. Coalitions can address the power differences that can exist within any industry. Those without power can magnify their influence as part of their own coalition to address the dominant group. Or through formal coalition decision making and governance structures less dominant firms can magnify their influence to more effectively deal with industry power imbalances.
  9. Coalitions offer a way of raising the public profile of an issue but not at the reputational expense of any one firm. Individual firms are often afraid to expose their brand image with government by taking leadership on an issue all on their own. A coalition gives participating firms ‘air cover’ within a broader group which gives the issue credibility and some brand protection to the individual firms who convene the coalition.
  10. Coalitions greatly magnify the ability of members to communicate and mobilize the public and industry stakeholders – customers, suppliers, and employees. It is this aspect of coalitions that really makes a difference in dealing with government.
  11. Coalitions elevate the advocacy issue beyond the level of a single firm. This gives the issue credibility without the taint of naked self interest. The more the coalition represents external interests and stakeholders, the more credibility it has. Naturally, there are limits to membership that need to be considered, but in general, engaging as many interests in the solution as practical will make the coalition  much stronger in its ability to influence government.

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