8 Habits of Highly Effective Coalitions

Passing (or defeating) major legislation takes strong coalitions including members of Congress, the executive, and civil society. Follow these best practices with your allies on and off the Hill.


  • No administration is monolithic. Find allies inside the executive branch and work with them.


  • Empower allies inside the administration by giving them advanced warning about questions you will be asking and actions you will be taking. They can help pave the way for an improved response from the executive branch.


  • Recognize the daily battles your executive branch allies are fighting against internal adversaries. Badgering human rights advocates within the administration will only strengthen their opponents.


  • Don’t assume that people within the administration – even in the same department or bureau – know each other or talk to each other.


  • Congressional staff can play an important role in convening civil society groups. Staffers can help different groups unite and collaborate on issues that might otherwise divide them.


  • Make civil society more effective by identifying members of Congress they can work worth with and legislative provisions they should be concerned about.


  • The media are key for building interest inhuman rights issues. Seek out and develop relationships with reporters who are interested in human rights issues or your boss’ agenda.


  • Develop relationships with other Hill offices that share your member’s interests. Work across the aisle whenever possible.