Coalition Building & Strategic Partnerships

Strength in Numbers…

Leveraging Strategic Partnerships and Coalitions

Presenting a successful library budget can be greatly enhanced by demonstrating that your library has partners who work together to deliver programs and services to the community.  Working with strategic partners, or in coalition, indicates that your library is finding creative ways of sharing resources and delivering added value by collaborating with other organizations.

  • If your library works with schools, arts groups, history centers, museums or other community-based organizations, show how these partnerships allow the library to “deliver more with less” and enhances the services of your partner organizations.
  • Demonstrate that your library shares goals with community agencies.  Does your library work with a community organization, such as a workforce development program?  Show the number of individuals who receive help with resume writing, learning job skills, using the Internet for finding jobs…and then describe how your library works with the community agency to achieve shared goals.
  • Tell the story of how partnering with small business owners has an economic impact on the community.  Share anecdotes and quotes as part of a handout, or your budget presentation.
  • Libraries often share programming with community arts organizations.  In your budget presentation, share information on how such a coalition appeals to private funders, lifting some of the financial burden from the public sector.
  • Media partners are visible, powerful allies.  If your library offers sponsored programming or events with local radio or TV stations, or newspapers, illustrate the power of these partnerships by highlighting attendance, sharing audience quotes and demonstrating that your library understands the value and impact of sharing the stage with a media partner.
  • Schools and school media centers are under terrific pressure to provide needed resources for students, with shrinking budgets.   Partner with area schools through homework centers or providing books and other resources that will be used in classes or programs.  When you present your budget, show how this collaboration allows schools to expand their resources and your library to work with targeted groups of key customers.
  • Defending a budget is as much about impact as it is about the bottom line.  Look for and nurture partnerships that will allow your library to offer new, exciting programs and services and repeat (over and over) the success stories about how creative partnerships have a strong economic and “quality of life”  impact on the community.
  • “Back-scratching “can be a rich feature of a partnership or coalition.  Share the success and spread the word about community partnerships.  Speak or write in support of your strategic partners and ask them to do the same for your library.  Having members of an arts organization, or a history center at budget hearings sends the message that the library is a strong community player.
  • Other community organizations face the same challenges as the library.  Reach out to your counterparts in other organizations and learn from them, as they learn from you.  There are always strategies and tips to share and support to be enlisted. 
  • Remember that strategic partners and coalitions are the way of the future.  Continually create and use these collaboratives in ways that will enhance your library and the community.

2. Preparing a Budget Presentation

Budget Presentations Homepage