Regardless of structure, all coalitions share common values that highlight the importance of
- providing a statewide voice on behalf of victims,
- supporting the work of local member programs,
- holding societal systems accountable for their responses to victims,
- and working on the prevention of violence.
The scope of the work of state anti-sexual violence / anti-domestic violence coalitions is intentionally broad in order to provide leadership that integrates local, state, and national programs, laws, and policies.
Coalitions provide a critical bridge between the work of local advocates providing direct services, statewide policy makers, and federal responses to violence against women. Through statewide memberships and regular convening of meetings with member programs, coalitions are able to relay the challenges and successes of local work to the national level, and convey best practices emerging at the national level to local member programs.
Coalitions are not homogenous. There are as many types of coalitions as there are coalitions. Each state or territory has unique needs, communities, and opportunities that shape the work and structure of each coalition.
In some states, there is one coalition addressing both domestic and sexual violence and in others there are two single issue coalitions. Most coalitions do not provide direct services to victims, some provide a few services, and some are the service provider in their area. Coalitions can be in rural or urban states, with a staff of 25 or a sole staff member, with a budget in the millions or just a hundred thousand.
Coalition-specific funding is available at the federal level through both the Office on Violence Against Women (sexual assault and domestic violence coalitions) and the Department of Health and Human Services (domestic violence coalitions). In addition to these funding sources, coalitions can apply for a variety of federal grants, state funds, private foundations, and often receive membership dues and individual donations.
For the most recent summary of this data, please reference the RSP coalition surveys.
Historically, coalitions formed as grass-roots trade federations. As such, a central component of a statewide coalition is often their membership and many maintain that focus. This aspect of a coalition sets it apart from other nonprofits. Upon inception, most coalition boards were formed as all membership boards, varying in size, composition, and governance. Now, we see a variety of board compositions, which may include any of the following:
- Member program representation
- Regional representation
- Survivor representation
- Diverse representation
- Representation from the community at large
- Representation of organized task forces or caucuses
Some coalitions still maintain boards of directors with sole membership center makeup. Other coalitions have restructured the board to designate seats for a mix of both member program representatives and community members with specific skill sets or allied professionals or community-based board of directors. Board recruitment outside of the Movement to End Violence Against Women has helped some coalitions build new relationships with systems partners and alternative revenue streams, as well as bolster organizational governance.
There are benefits in each style of board makeup and coalitions chose and evolve their boards and bylaws based on the unique needs of their agency, membership, and the community.
Overall, coalitions are shaped and evolve in response to a community need and these needs are individual and specific to each state and territory.
Even with very different board, staff, and membership structures, state/territory coalitions have some common threads, including:
- Primary constituencies of private, non-profit community-based programs;
- Commitment to provide an array of services to these programs;
- Involvement of these programs in the development of coalition services and
- Accountability to these programs;
- Survivor driven.
For more reading on statewide coalitions, please see the attachments section.