NAHC Coalitions Work Together for the Good

Many years ago, associations engaged with the federal government as independent entities. However, today if an association wants to be successful with Congress and the government, it needs to work collaboratively with other like-minded organizations to form coalitions.

A coalition is a group of interdependent people focused on advancing or opposing a particular issue. A coalition’s power lies in its ability to present a united front. NAHC participates in several coalitions.

One of the most valuable and effective coalitions NAHC collaborates with is the Multifamily Housing Group (a/k/a as the Donut Group because donuts are served at their monthly meetings). This group has excellent contacts in Congress and the government, and their members share insights on pending legislation as well as regulations. They also meet quarterly with officials of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. When appropriate, they draft letters to weigh in with legislators and regulators on pending issues. These meetings and letters are particularly significant because there are usually 30 or more housing organizations that weigh in with giving NAHC strength in numbers.

Members of this group come from many housing-related organizations, for example the:

  • National Realtors Association;
  • Leading Age (representing seniors);
  • Council for Affordable and Rural Housing;
  • National Affordable Housing Management Association;
  • National Apartment Association;
  • Mortgage Bankers Association;
  • National Association of Affordable Housing;
  • National Home Builders;
  • Manufactured Housing Institute; and the
  • National Multifamily Housing Council.

NAHC also belongs to cooperative coalitions whose members include the:

  • National Rural Electric Cooperative;
  • National Cooperative Bank;
  • National Cooperative Business Association;
  • National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions; and the
  • Credit Union National Association.

Cooperative coalitions keep members abreast of pending cooperative issues, particularly regarding tax

A coalition is effective only when its issues have merit, and the coalition members are organized, informed and dedicated to communicating the importance of the effort. Coalition building calls for establishing and developing contacts that work well together. The multifamily housing and the cooperative coalitions are just two examples of coalitions NAHC works with to protect members’ interests.

Working with coalitions has the following advantages:

  • Enlarges NAHC’s base of support, networks and connections; gives strength in numbers: achieving more together than done alone;
  • Provides safety for advocacy efforts and protection for members who may not be able to take action alone;
  • Magnifies existing financial and human resources by pooling them together and by delegating work to others in the coalition;
  • Reduces duplication of effort and resources;
  • Enhances the credibility and influence of an advocacy campaign, as well as that of individual coalition members;
  • Assists in individual and organizational networking;
  • Facilitates exchange of information, skills, experience, materials and opportunities for collaboration;
  • Brings together a diverse range of people and organizations. Diversity can strengthen a campaign by broadening perspective and understanding of the issue. It can also assist outreach by appealing to a wider population base with differing priorities and interests;
  • Provides peer support, encouragement, motivation and professional recognition; and
  • By combining forces coalitions allow organizations or parties to gain something that they could not gain on their own.

Often, one of the most powerful ways for nonprofits to engage in the public policy process is by working in a coalition with other nonprofits. Effective coalitions can amplify nonprofit voices to legislators and the public, as well as allow coalition members to share the costs of their advocacy efforts. NAHC increases the perception of its credibility by associating with recognized leaders on a particular issue and by simply being a part of a group – the power of numbers.

Judy Sullivan is NAHC’s government relations representative. She is also the recipient of NAHC’s Jerry Voorhis and the Roger J. Willcox President’s awards.

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