Start a Coalition

Start a Coalition

title-buildingPartnerships

Why Form An Identity Theft Coalition?

Are you considering starting a multidisciplinary identity theft coalition?  Potential partners want to know that their time will not be wasted. What benefits might an identity theft coalition bring to a community?

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An Identity Theft Coalition Can:

  • Identify and address the needs of people who are most affected by identity theft through collaboration among people who have expertise and resources to meet these needs.
  • Organize and support professionals and trained volunteers to directly assist identity theft victims.
  • Unite individuals and programs with unique and diverse perspectives to achieve a common vision and mission.
  • Clearly identify the most important strategic issues and concerns that the Coalition can collectively address.
  • Seek and create consensus on a shared mission, goals and measurable objectives; and establish clear priorities for the Coalition (see Strategic Planning Guide).
  • Increase and promote communications among people who have a stake in identity theft prevention and response.
  • Increase the effectiveness and productivity of individuals and entities that, within a Coalition, can identify and address gaps in identity theft prevention, response, and victim assistance services.
  • Collectively define the problem of identity theft and its impact on individuals and communities; and promote community and public awareness of the problem and necessary responses.
  • Promote victim/survivor awareness of resources to assist them, and ease the process of seeking help, guidance and supportive services.
  • Expand the foundation of subject matter expertise to address the problems of identity theft.
  • Promote proactive problem solving and decision-making.
  • Foster trust among Coalition members to build strong relationships and a clearer understanding of the problems of identity theft.
  • Maximize the use of limited human and financial resources.
  • Educate key community members about the specific nature and dynamics of an issue that they may only have a superficial understanding of
  • Raise awareness of your issue or target population so that Coalition members start addressing it at their home agencies/organizations as well
  • Access manpower and resources that you may lack at your individual agency
  • Accomplish a lot with limited time and resource commitment
  • Identify gaps in community services by seeing who is not at the table
  • Gain credibility and media access for your cause through your coalition

“Part of the vision of our Coalition was to ensure that, when a victim reaches out for assistance, that members of our community have answers and resources at their fingertips for that victim.  We wanted to end run-around and circular referrals for ID theft victims in Idaho.  A second vision of the Coalition was to build capacity.  Recovering from identity theft can be extremely time consuming and paperwork intensive.  For our senior victims, this can be daunting and may stop them from achieving full recovery.  ICAIT strives to build up resources in our community so seniors can get the assistance they need to recover from ID theft and to prevent ongoing harm or re-victimization.”  – Coordinator, Idaho Coalition Against Identity Theft

Is a Coalition Appropriate for Your Project or Targeted Victim Population?

Your first step in the coalition building process is to determine if a collaborative approach will be effective for reaching the targeted population you are concerned about or for addressing the particular identity theft issue you have identified.

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If your answer is yes to any of the questions below, then a Coalition approach may be an extremely useful tool for you to use.

  • Are you having trouble gaining attention to an issue/problem/under-served group that you think is important?
  • Are you going to need expertise from several disciplines or from both public and private entities?
  • Does your organization have limited staff and budget but your project will have high manpower needs?
  • Have you identified a problem but need community information and feedback to create a solution?
  • Are there several groups already trying to serve this population or address this problem, but they are not working together?

Adapted in part from Ayers, S. (2013, May 9). Interweaving Coalition Building, Technology, and Pro Bono to Fill Gaps in Access to Justice: The Story of a Nine-State Project, 2013 Equal Justice Conference. St. Louis, MO.

Find Out What and Who Is Already Out There

What has been done on this issue before and what is (or is not) happening currently? Understanding the history and landscape of the issue in your area – before you contact potential partners – is key.

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  • Is there already a coalition working on this exact issue in your area?
  • Is there a coalition that covers a broader topic that could encompass your issue? If so, your issue could possibly be the basis of a subcommittee within that coalition.
  • Is there a specific organization devoted to your issue?
  • Have there been prior efforts to form a coalition around this issue or target population? If so, why was it unsuccessful?
  • Are there coalitions like the one you are seeking to create in other states/jurisdictions that can share resources, materials? (Hint: this is a trick question! Yes, NITVAN coalitions exist and are here to help!)

Adapted in part from Ayers, S. (2013, May 9). Interweaving Coalition Building, Technology, and Pro Bono to Fill Gaps in Access to Justice: The Story of a Nine-State Project, 2013 Equal Justice Conference. St. Louis, MO.

Who to Invite and How to Generate their Interest

The beginning months of forming an identity theft coalition include announcing the formation of the coalition, generating media attention and community interest, gathering key stakeholders on your ‘wish list,’ and inviting potential members from multidisciplinary fields.

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Stakeholder Session – Brainstorming Potential Coalition Members

First, identify five key stakeholder entities to invite to a small brainstorming session. These may be people you trust and have worked with before on other issues. Well connected colleagues will work well here! In this session, your group goal will be to identify potential members of the coalition. Below is a list of various agencies and organizations involved in the coalitions within NITVAN. With your group, carefully consider each category and identify the entity in your area within that category to invite. If possible, identify the best person within that entity to reach out to.

  • Academic Institutions
  • Attorney General Offices
  • Bar Associations
  • Better Business Bureau/Industry Regulatory Commissions
  • Business Networking Groups/Trade Associations
  • Child Service Organizations
  • Consumer Groups/Coalitions
  • Data Breach Specialists/Cyber Security Professionals/Internet Providers
  • Domestic and Sexual Violence Organizations
  • Emergency Responder Agencies
  • Faith-Based Organizations and Coalitions
  • Federal Trade Commission
  • Financial/Banking Entities
  • Government Representatives (Federal, State, and Local)
  • Identity Theft Victim Representative
  • Judicial Agencies (Federal, State, and Local)
  • Law Enforcement Agencies
  • Legal Clinics/Legal Assistance Providers/Law Firms Providing Pro Bono Assistance to Identity Theft Victims
  • Media Representatives
  • Medical & Health Care Entities
  • Motor Vehicle Administrations
  • Prosecutors (Federal, State, and Local)
  • Senior Service Organizations
  • State VOCA Administrators
  • Task Force Representatives
  • Victim Service

Review your list and ask if this list covers representatives from your target population, community leaders, and groups whose participation will be critical to the success of your Coalition. Consider additional categories that may have been missed. Research membership lists for similar coalitions: do you see members you missed in your brainstorming session?

Additionally, there may be several structures in place in your community to help you find organizations interested in collaborating:

  • The Governor’s Office in your state may have a grant coordinating office, and/or an office for crime control and victims’ issues. Each Governor’s Office may refer to these divisions by different titles, so check with the Governor’s Office in your state to find out more
  • Your locality may have a Coordinating Office for Criminal Justice. This type of entity is called by many names in different places. Do a web search with keywords to find if your area has one of these entities.
  • The National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators posts a list of state VOCA contacts, and lists these contacts by type, making it easier to find the contacts you may be looking for. www.navaa.org/link_matrix.html
  • Fifteen states have existing VOCA-supported general victim assistance coalitions: www.navaa.org/links.html#coalitions

Contact Potential Members

At the brainstorming session, ask each key stakeholder to chose 4-7 potential member agencies/organizations to reach out to in order to informally discuss the coalition’s formation.

You can follow up with the potential members with a formal invitation. Below are sample invitations used by NITVAN coalitions to announce and explain the process:

Consider a Press Release or Press Conference

Press attention can be helpful to generate local interest in membership.

Defining What Coalition ‘Partnership’ Can Entail

There are many phrases used in the victim field to describe efforts that bring people together with a common cause. Are there levels of partners or leadership in your group? Do partners sign MOU’s or simply meeting sign-in sheets? Take a moment to consider what partnership will entail.

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George Keiser of the National Institute of Corrections (1998) describes these terms and their meanings. Some recurring words are often used in a very cavalier fashion to describe types of working relationships. It is important to be clear about the depth of involvement contained in the meaning of these various words, and then to use the appropriate word for the relevant circumstances. These words include cooperation, coordination, collaboration, and partnership.

Cooperation

Cooperation does not require much depth of relationship from the parties involved. Typically, a couple of people identify how what they are doing in their organizations would benefit each other. They agree to share what they do, but are not required to do anything differently. The activities engaged in Coordination are very informal. No resources are transferred, and the life of those involved goes on much as it has. This may be the initial point of developing relationships between the involved organizations. A key element for initiating cooperation is personal trust.

Like cooperation, the depth of involvement between organizations is not required to be great. The relationship tends to be more definitive with specific protocols or conventions commonly being established. The business of the various organizations does not change significantly. The number of people involved in the process is increased, and the participants are more cognizant of how their independent activities can be integrated for common benefit or can influence the work of another organization. This level of working together requires more discipline and more formal structure in following the established protocols. The importance of integrity of the various participants and their activities becomes more apparent.

Collaboration

Collaboration introduces the concept of organizations coming together to create something new, commonly a new process. Generally, the organizations bring a business they already know well and identify how, by joint actions; they can redesign a process to their mutual benefit. There must not only be trust and integrity as a foundation, but the parties now need to understand the perspectives of the other collaborators’ self interest(s). This understanding suggests a greater depth of involvement between organizations. It is not merely exchanging information, but also developing a sense of awareness for whom the other parties are, what motivates them, and what they need out of working together. Unlike cooperation or coordination, for the first time something new is being developed through the relationship of organizations. Even with the increased intensity of involvement, the various organizations retain their independent identities.

Partnership

Partnership is the bringing together of individuals or organizations to create a new entity. This may be the extreme extension of collaboration. The depth of involvement is reflected by a commitment referred to as ownership. No longer are there independent organizations agreeing to work together on some initiative as long as it is convenient. Nor is this a group of organizations buying into someone else’s plan. With a partnership, there is an agreement to create something new which, through joint ownership, requires that the partners make it succeed. One measure of success is whether the partnership makes all the partners successful.

Coalition Kick-Off Summit – Training & Strategic Planning

Hosting an identity theft summit – which includes training and strategic planning – gives agencies and organizations in the community a chance to better understand the challenges identity theft victims face and decide whether they want to participate in a collaborative solution.

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A summit is also a great way to generate initial interest and excitement for the initiative. A full-day summit can include:

  • A baseline of training on the scope identity theft and its impact on victims. This can give potential coalition partners a grounding in why collaboration is essential to improving the experiences of victims of identity theft.
  • A teaser/preview of the various initiatives a coalition could work on – including future training opportunities, policy changes, and outreach events.
  • A strategic planning session, or the beginnings of a strategic planning session. Some NITVAN coalitions use time in the morning at such a meeting for training, with time in the afternoon for strategic planning. Others have held a strategic planning session at a separate, second meeting date. Another option is to end the summit day with a brief strategic planning preview, with the larger planning session conducted at a later date.

Below is a ready-to-use sample strategic planning session invitation:

Do not be intimidated! Coordinators of identity theft coalitions need not begin the project with the highest level of expertise in their region. Enthusiasm for improving victim service is the most important trait needed. A training and strategic planning day can be hosted by the coordinator, but feature many speakers with expertise in the subject and in facilitating planning sessions.

  • Skills required to lead the coalition include the ability to tap into local expertise and use the knowledge and assistance of others around the nation. By getting plugged into the NITVAN network, you can tap into a wealth of advice and help.
  • Consider making calls to local experts from various fields and requesting their volunteer time to speak on a specific segment of the training. This can also work to ensure their support and membership in your collaborative group.
  • Use the Training section of this toolkit to download ready-to-use materials for various audiences and time constraints.

Conducting the strategic planning without an outside facilitator? The Office for Victims of Crime has developed a comprehensive Strategic Planning Toolkit, which can help your coalition organize around a central mission, a vision, and goals:

Below is a template your coalition could use to guide its own strategic plan:

Conducting Effective Identity Theft Coalition Meetings

Participants expect that their needs will be taken care of during their time with you, and that their input and involvement will be reflected and respected. This section will help prepare you for your first regular coalition meeting.

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Victim assistance and allied professionals spend a considerable amount of time in meetings, as both sponsors and participants. Consider for a moment meetings that you look forward to attending, versus meetings that you dread attending.  The difference between the two can be summarized in “five Ps:”

  1. Planning that creates “buy-in” from participants and ensures that all advance and on-site logistics are adequately addressed.
  2. Process that addresses advance, on-site and follow-on activities, and that ensures that the meeting is conducted in a professional manner.
  3. Personality of a skilled facilitator to adhere to a clearly stated agenda, and engage all participants.
  4. Participants who can contribute to achieving the goal(s) of the meeting, and who are willing to assume responsibilities for any follow-on activities.
  5. Products that result from the meeting prepared and disseminated in a timely manner.

Key Elements

Two elements for a successful meeting are to first determine if a meeting is needed; and next to have a clear agenda to guide both participant activities and the meeting process.  Some guidelines to increase the effectiveness of your meetings include the following:

  1. Don’t call a meeting unless there is business that can’t be conducted by telephone and e-mail communications.
  2. Always have a concise meeting agenda that includes a clearly stated “meeting goal:”
  3. It is helpful to seek input in advance from meeting participants about the goals and objectives to achieve their “buy-in.”  A meeting sponsor can also develop a “draft agenda” for circulation to participants to which they can add agenda items prior to the meeting.
  4. Determine in advance the meeting participants who are responsible for facilitating or contributing to each key issue (if applicable), and work with them to prepare their presentation within the time allotted.  While you may have a “master facilitator,” it’s important to provide opportunities for participants to lead.

Key components for the written agenda include:

  • “Header” that includes meeting sponsorship, date, time and location.
  • Welcome and introductions (a participant “icebreaker” is optional).
  • Goal(s) of the meeting.
  • “Old Business” (for meetings that are regularly scheduled).
  • Key issues to address or accomplish.
  • “New Business” (if there are any “loose ends”).
  • Any “parking lot” issues (see “Meetings On-site Guidelines”)
  • Clarification of any follow-on assignments or activities with deadlines (“next steps”).
  • Adjourn.

For a two-hour meeting, limit agenda items to four key issues with specified time limitations on each issue.

Send the finalized meeting agenda that includes key topics, persons responsible for presentations and discussions, etc. with logistics (date, time {beginning and end of meeting], location and directions) at least one week in advance of the session.  It is also helpful to remind participants to bring their calendars or PDAs for scheduling purposes.

Meeting Logistics

  • If key logistics are identified and addressed, it will increase the likelihood of a meeting running smoothly. Meeting facilitators should arrive at least 90 minutes prior to the meeting to attend to logistics, and to be prepared to greet any early participants without distractions.
  • Seek to hold your meetings at a central location that is accessible by mass transit, has ample parking, and is disability accessible. It is helpful to provide the full address of the meeting venue (including zip code) so participants can easily go online to obtain directions and a map (or you can provide an online link with this information in your invitation).
  • Set up the meeting room in a manner that is conducive to group discussion, i.e., a round table or horseshoe (not theater style).
  • Provide signage in any hallways that clearly directs participants to the meeting location.
  • Provide a sign-in sheet that documents who is attending the meeting (see “sample sign-in sheet provided by this Project).

Arrange for audio/visual equipment, which may include:

  • Tear sheet pads and multiple colored felt pens.
  • Overhead projector or LCD equipment and screen and laptop computer (for any presentation of goals or information relevant to the discussion, etc.).
  • Audio or video recording equipment (including adequate number of tapes and batteries).
  • Laptop computers to record notations from the discussion.

Arrange for specific needs of participants, which may include

  • Accommodations for persons with mobility access needs.
  • Sign language interpreters for participants who are Deaf.
  • Interpreters for participants who speak a language other than English.

Arrange for on-site participant resources, which may include:

  • Any written resources or handouts relevant to the discussion.
  • Pads of paper.
  • Pens or pencils.
  • Sticky notes or index cards distributed on participant tables.
  • Name tags.
  • Name plates on card stock.
  • Boxes of tissues.
  • Refreshments (water and coffee at a minimum; if the group is conducted during lunch or dinner hours, a light buffet or boxed meal prior to the session is a good idea). Please remember that OJP funded refreshments are not allowable. However, there are many ways for a coalition to ensure snacks are included, including holding pot-luck snack meetings where members bake goods and/or donate other goodies and drinks. Also, local restaurants and fast food chains often have corporate giving policies which allow for organizations and clubs to apply for donated catered meals for events and meetings.
  • Individual work sheets (if applicable).

Meetings On-site Guidelines

  1. Never penalize the people who arrive on time to meetings.  Start promptly at the time designated on the agenda.  End promptly on time as well.
  2. Keep to the agenda in order to respect participants’ time and commitment:
  3. Include a “parking lot” for meeting participants on a piece of tear sheet posted on a wall.  Provide each participant with “sticky notes” to jot down issues they think about – which may or may not be related to the topic at hand – and post them on the “parking lot.”  Allow at least 15 minutes at the end of a meeting to address “parking lot” issues, if needed.
  4. Designate a staff member or volunteer to document the meeting through minutes. It is also helpful to have a “recorder” who documents key issues on tear sheets posted on the walls.
  5. It is a good idea to have individual work sheets for key issues so that all participants can provide their input.  This is a good process to engage participants who are less likely to participate verbally, and also to obtain additional data that can address the key issues of the meeting.  The facilitator can describe the type of information that is sought; provide a time limit for completing the work sheet; collect the work sheets; and assure participants that their input will be reflected in the meeting’s minutes.
  6. Document proceedings of meetings through minutes that are distributed to participants within one week of the meeting.  Either highlight “action items” or include a list at the end of the minutes, with assignments and deadlines for persons who are responsible for each action item and specific deadlines.

Conducting the Meeting

A well-managed meeting always has a designated facilitator or leader.  This person should be at the site at least 90 minutes in advance of the meeting to set up the room and welcome participants.  Effective meeting facilitation includes:

Welcome from the sponsor and/or facilitator, and an opportunity for participants to introduce themselves by name and agency affiliation.

“Housekeeping announcements” (such as where bathrooms are located, information about any reimbursements, etc.)

If time permits, an “icebreaker” that immediately engages participants.  For example:

  • “From the agenda we sent you in advance, I’d like each of you to identify one expectation you have of this meeting.”
  • “From the agenda we sent you in advance, I’d like each of you to identify one challenge to accomplishing our goal(s).”

Review of the agenda, with an opportunity for clarification if needed.

At the beginning of your meeting or training program, participants should be asked to contribute to “ground rules” for the session.  The facilitator should have a “Ground Rules” tear sheet prepared to record participants’ responses.  Once contributions to “ground rules” are obtained, you can reference the list below to add any that may be relevant to your program.

  • Please try and keep to the meeting/training program schedule; we will not penalize the participants who arrive on time.
  • Everything that is said here stays here (confidentiality is important to ensure participant comfort and candor).
  • Please keep cell phones off, or on “vibrate” (you can make exceptions for participants who are on “crisis” duty).
  • Participants can participate to the degree to which they want (or not).
  • While it’s important for everyone to participate, it’s also important that individuals don’t over-participate.
  • No idea is a bad idea.
  • If instructions for discussions and/or activities are not clear, participants will ask for clarification.
  • While breaks are scheduled, participants should let facilitators know if additional breaks are needed.
  • Participants will let the facilitator(s) know if the training room is too hot or too cold, or any other issues that may affect their comfort.

You may also want to consider a “ground rule” that allows the process to be “fluid and flexible.”  Although you will have an agenda, permission to adjust the agenda and its time frame – based upon participant input and needs and possible time constraints – may be a good idea.

Providing time prior to the end of the meeting for summary, clarification and thanking the participants.

Follow-on to the Meeting

It is critical to prepare written minutes as soon as possible for dissemination to participants.  Too often, a meeting ends with little or no follow-on, which makes participants wonder “what happened?”, “what are the results?” and “was this meeting worth my time?”

Meeting minutes essentially follow the “outline” of the agenda, and clearly summarize “action items” with individual responsibility and deadlines.  It is the responsibility of the meeting host or facilitator to remind volunteers of their commitment to follow-on activities.

Useful Tips for Meeting Facilitators

  • In your brief welcoming remarks, attempt to make people feel that you are glad they came, and that their contributions are important.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Maintain a positive and friendly demeanor, which is contagious!
  • Make the first introduction of yourself (in order to model the type and brevity of the introductions of other participants).
  • Provide clear time limits for each agenda item to make the best use of limited time.
  • Try to involve all participants in the discussion, and avoid letting any one participant dominate.  Comments like, “We haven’t heard from (name) yet on this topic; do you have any ideas you’d like to share?” and “thanks for that insight, why don’t we let the others respond” are helpful to accomplish this goal.
  • Briefly summarize and provide opportunities for clarification of group discussions following each agenda item.
  • Document any “action items” on tear sheets, in the meetings’ minutes, and verbally to participants to clarify individuals’ responsibilities for follow-on activities.
  • Discuss plans for any future meetings.
  • Thank people for attending, and for their contributions to the meeting’s success.  Follow-up with a brief email that offers your gratitude in writing.

Seymour, A. (2005) VOCA Administrators’ Toolkit.  Washington, DC: National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators and Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice.  Updated October 2011 for Identity Theft Victim Assistance Network Project.

Below is a sample identity theft coalition agenda:

Meeting Agenda

Circling Back: Have We Set Our Coalition Up for Success?

Use this checklist to ensure the coalition has taken the steps necessary to move ahead on its goals with confidence. Also included are an example sustainability survey and sustainability plan, which can be conducted once the coalition is firmly established.

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  1. The problem(s) or issue(s) of concern is clearly defined.
  2. All potential stakeholders and key leaders/change agents have been invited to participate in the collaborative initiative:

• People who live with the problem.
• People who have power to change the problem.
• People who have the technical expertise to address the problem.

  1. Diversity among stakeholders is sought and respected as a key tenet of collaboration.
  2. A mission or vision statement that identifies the critical problems or issues and possible collaborative solutions is developed by all key stakeholders.
  3. The problem or issue is analyzed to develop theories about why it is occurring, and what can be done to change the situation.
  4. Possible strategies or solutions are brainstormed among key stakeholders, with consensus built around the most sound approaches to problem solving or intervention.
  5. The consensus strategy is fractionated into strategic goals and measurable objectives.
  6. Goals and objectives are assigned an order of priority, with a sense of urgency given to the highest priority issues.
  7. Responsibilities for action are developed and assigned to the relevant stakeholders, with clear understanding of the interrelationships among each goal and objective.
  8. A time schedule for completion of goals and objectives is developed that includes tasks, persons responsible, deliverables, and deadlines.  This should be flexible, depending upon ongoing evaluation results (see # 14).
  9. If necessary, memoranda of understanding and/or inter-agency agreements are drafted to clarify roles, responsibilities, and interrelationships needed to accomplish the goals and objectives.
  10. A list of resources needed for success is developed, which may include (but not be limited to): research, evaluation, training, technical assistance, marketing, direct outreach to core constituents, public education, and media relations.
  11. Stakeholders involved in the collaborative effort assume responsibility (often jointly) for developing and/or providing resources that have been identified as critical to success.
  12. Significant attention is paid to evaluation measures that can delineate success or failure.  Flexible approaches are in place to allow for revision of original goals and objectives, based upon evaluation results (this is an ongoing process).
  13. Methods of ongoing communications and regular meetings for status reviews are institutionalized.
  14. A commitment to managing the change that results from the collaborative initiative is institutionalized, with consensus on how stakeholders will each educate their professional peers and volunteers about the positive aspects of the change, and help them adjust to new policies, procedures, and/or programs that result.
  15. Small successes and achievements are celebrated, and barriers to success are viewed as surmountable challenges.
  16. An assessment of the overall collaborative effort is conducted, with participation of all key stakeholders.
  17. Recommendations for revising or “fine-tuning” ongoing strategies for success, based upon the overall evaluation, are developed.
  18. Efforts are made to identify other initiatives that could benefit from the collaborative efforts of the key stakeholders involved in this initiative.

Seymour, A. (2006). “Collaboration: A Checklist for Success.”  Washington, DC: National Victim Assistance Academy, Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice. Updated October 2011 for Identity Theft Victim Assistance Network Project.

Ensuring Sustainability