Architecture of Coalitions

Although there isn't a solution applicable to all cases, as the architecture of a coalition depends on the target area and themes being addressed, a focus on inclusivity gives coalitions greater credibility and coherence. Such inclusivity can be achieved by:

  • Involving actors who represent specific identity groups suck as women and minorities.

  • Identifying diversity-related angles to themes addressed by the coalition.

  • Communication platforms and materials are targeted at different groups based on their needs, among others.

Key findings: when assembling a coalition

  • Ensuring diversity.

  • Building credibility.

  • Maximising convening power.

  • Including people in positions of influence.


Coalitions can be led in various ways, from single organisations to individual members assuming the leadership. Clear communication is also essential for securing commitment, and can be underpinned by regular meetings and public engagement that promotes transparency. Clear leadership is fundamental especially when international development partners are involved in building coalitions, as they should avoid rigid approaches and instead foster equal partnerships.


Although there is no predetermined developmental process that coalitions should follow, leaders usually do prefer to start small and build their efforts gradually. However, other coalitions' evolution is determined by the pace and scale of the project in question. Analytical tools can also be used to ensure that the evolution can be shaped by empirical evidence, thus creating the basis for the development and initiation of core activities.

"An effective strategy should probably incorporate an incremental approach, whereby you start with quick wins, tackling issues that you know can move in the right direction in a relatively short space of time." PRIMED Workshop Participant

As coalitions move forward and make higher-level impact, they should incur in strong monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) in order to justify their decisions, adjust strategies and motivate coalition members, as well as reporting back to stakeholders.

Support from the international community

It is recommended that media development agencies initiate and nurture actions and then coalition members take ownership and set the agenda. This is because although international agencies have considerable and valuable expertise and experience, coalition members should feel empowered to define and influence the support they receive from international partners in order to fully reflect their needs. In addition to coordination, coalition members must also be ready to negotiate and demand better coordination from international partners. The most common complaint was the rigidity of international donors, which led to many donors only working with coalitions if the activities were time-bound and focused on swift results. Further, there is also a concern of coalitions becoming donor-dependent.

"The current 'programmatic' funding model by donors- where funds are earmarked for specific purposes and activities, with no room for adjustment or variation to respond to emerging challenges and realities outside the programme- is a deterrent to building coalitions and collaborations." PRIMED Workshop participant

Key findings on the value of media development agencies

  • Training and technical assistance support advocacy.

  • Knowledge-sharing facilitation.

  • Access to external experience.

  • Improving donor coordination to avoid duplication of effort and explore synergies.

Key findings on the essential attributes of successful coalitions

  • Understanding of the context.

  • Mutual trust.

  • Open engagement.

  • Local ownership.

  • Shared vision.

  • A focus on measurable results.

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