Richard Bennett is a UK-based evaluator who has been supporting coalitions and networks around the world since long before it was cool. We collaborated on an advocacy coalition project, and I learned immensely from his insight into what makes coalitions and networks work. I’m grateful that he has translated his experience to an excellent new paper, published by the King Khaled Foundation and the International NGO Training and Research Centre (INTRAC).
Bennett’s model of effective coalitions emphasizes qualities and practices connected in what he dubs “virtuous circles”. Collaborative work centers on relationships. Focusing on the connections between members, and the qualities and practices that help these thrive, can amplify and extend collective impact. The proverbial sum can be bigger than the parts. Shifting the evaluation lens from what coalitions do – the work they produce – to also looking at how they do it can help evaluators, funders and participating organizations cultivate stronger collective action.