There are four things coalitions must sustain. Coalitions are made up of members that care about the mission and agree to help conduct the coalition’s work. Volunteers and volunteer leadership are the engine that moves the coalition process and they are its most important resource. Coalitions must carefully grow and sustain strong membership.

Coalitions also must sustain a credible process the community and members can believe in.

The community problem solving routine of assessment, analysis, planning, intervention, evaluation and adjustment based on results are what members do together in a coalition. Ultimately, coalitions will not succeed in raising needed money if the process they seek to sustain is fundamentally flawed or lacks real credibility with the local community.

Coalitions also must sustain a connection to current community issues. With a good membership base engaged in a credible process, the coalition must show that this engine of change is working on issues relevant to the community. There are many legitimate issues that vie for community attention and support. Community interest in substance abuse will naturally ebb and flow. Coalitions must actively nurture the community’s interest in fighting substance abuse and show a connection between coalition goals and other important community concerns.

Finally, coalitions must sustain the resources required to do their daily work. This last element is what most people think of when they consider sustainability. “Show me the money” has become the catch phrase. If volunteers are the engine and the coalition process is the vehicle then resources are the fuel. Needed resources can include money, space, technology, tools, and the training that volunteers and staff need to do their work.

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