Skip to content

Top Five Reasons Coalitions Work

Whether we are discussing your chamber or a coalition your chamber has joined, here are five reasons a coalition is stronger than the sum of its parts. Use these when selling your chamber membership or trying to convince others to join a coalition.

  1. Strength in Numbers: Collaborating with others allows you to leverage the collective strength, knowledge, and resources of multiple organizations, making your advocacy voice more powerful.

  2. Increased Credibility: When multiple reputable organizations or businesses support an advocacy initiatives, it enhances each coalition member’s credibility and legitimacy in the eyes of policymakers and the community.

  3. Broader Network: Building coalitions provides access to a broader network of contacts and connections, facilitating more productive advocacy efforts. You can strategically align with organizations that have expertise in specific policy areas, ensuring well-informed advocacy efforts and leverage the individual relationships of coalition members.

  4. Shared Resources: When advocating for a position, there is some work that does not need to be duplicated. For instance, your chamber can follow what policy makers are doing and share important updates with your members, providing value to them. Similarly, in a coalition of organizations, the subject matter expert can create talking points that every coalition member can use.

  5. Extra eyes and ears: Often when advocating, it is very helpful to know what elected officials are thinking about a proposal. When you have a broad coalition talking to policy makers and following meetings, you will often pick up more actionable intelligence than working alone.

How does this work in the real world?  Check out our case study:

PPP Deductibility

During the pandemic, many businesses were relying on Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) loans to stay in business.  As you know, these loans from the federal government were forgiven, so long as the business met certain requirements related to retaining staff.  When the law was first passed, the Internal Revenue Service determined that under federal law a forgiven loan counted as taxable income.  Recognizing that this policy worked against the objective of helping struggling small businesses, Congress quickly passed additional legislation clarifying that forgiven loans were not taxable.

However, in the state of North Carolina, policy makers initially balked at conforming to this new federal law.  For business in North Carolina, forgiven PPP loans would be taxable under the state income tax, even while tax exempt at the federal level.

Recognizing the impact on their members, a group of approximately 10 local chambers began discussing the issue. One local chamber took the lead, drafting a letter to legislators expressing the coalition’s desire to see legislation passed which would exempt the forgiven loans from state taxes.  They utilized a Google Doc to allow the group to make edits and suggestions to the letter.

Once the core group found consensus on the letter text, they began circulating it to other Chambers within their network.  Each participant identified other chambers in their region and other execs in their network to forward the letter to.  A simple Google form was created that gave new coalition members the opportunity to join as a signatory by providing their chamber name, executive’s name, email address and logo.  (Check out what the Google form looked like) They were also asked how many members they had, so that the final letter came “on behalf of more than 50 chambers representing more than 10,000 businesses.”

Once the letter was finalized, each signatory forwarded a copy to their legislative members, maximizing the local connections that they have.

Ultimately, the General Assembly passed legislation making forgiven PPP loans tax exempt, and saving North Carolina businesses more than $600 million.

What issues can you form coalitions around? What challenges do you face when trying to build coalitions? Have you ever had a coalition fail?