How to build a coalition around your resolution effort

Among the variety of ways that passing a Medicare for All resolution builds pressure and momentum for Medicare for All, perhaps the most important is that it is an opportunity to bring together an enduring coalition of local activists and organizations to support Medicare for All. These local coalitions will help build a foundation for the long-term social movement infrastructure that we’ll need to win this legislation at a national level.

Here are some tips to design and implement a successful outreach plan to build your local coalition:

  • Make an outreach plan.
    • Organize a brainstorm meeting with other activists in your area to come up with an outreach plan for progressive organizations in the area.
    • It may be helpful to come up with a shortlist in advance of your meeting. Sign-on letters to your senator or Representative in Congress on health issues often include great leads. Try a google search like “letter to Wyden healthcare Oregon”. With the right combination of keywords, you might find what you’re looking for. You can also contact us for help in identifying lists of progressive organizations in your state if you are finding this difficult.
    • Share information among your small group about any contacts you may already have with people who are involved in these groups.
    • Take assignments to research the contact information for the groups that you already have contacts.
    • Set a next meeting date as a deadline for everyone to reach out to the groups on their lists. these individuals with a copy of the resolution to request an organizational endorsement. Expect to reach out a second time a week after the first attempt if it goes unanswered.
  • Ideas for outreach in your community
    • Unions –  the best introduction is through someone you know. If you don’t already have these connections, remember that new coalition members might. Ask them if they can introduce you or arrange a meeting. If you are a union member or have good union connections, another option is to organize with your local to pass its own resolution endorsing Medicare for All. The Labor Campaign for Single Payer has a guide to passing union resolutions and is very helpful in providing advice about the process. Remember: union organizers have a tough workload – you may need to reach out more than once to get an answer!
    • Faith groups – Are there progressive places of worship or a progressive interfaith network in your town? Consider reaching out to clergy or social justice committees of churches, synagogues or mosques.
    • Physicians – PNHP (Physicians for a National Health Program) has a campaign to pass local medical society resolutions. You can reach out to them to see if any doctors have been organizing on Medicare for All in your community.
    • Nurses and other healthcare workers – Are there any unionized hospitals in your community? National Nurses United and many other nursing unions support Medicare for All – be sure to reach out to them for an endorsement.
    • Small business owners – check out Business Leaders for Healthcare Transformation for resources.
    • Racial justice organizations – Given the massive racial health disparities that exist in our current for-profit healthcare system, many local racial justice organizations are fighting for health justice.
    • Refer to this list of national organizations that have endorsed Medicare for All and consider if there are local chapters in your community. Some examples from successful local coalitions include local chapters of these national organizations: NAACP, League of Women Voters, Sunrise Movement, Indivisible, DSA, Our Revolution, Poor People’s Campaign, People’s Action, Center for Popular Democracy, and more.
  • Outreach tips
    • Remember that your goal is to build an enduring coalition that will continue to work together after you win your Medicare for All resolution. Showing up for each other’s struggles – including fights outside of Medicare for All – is key to expanding your group. It helps to find out what an organization’s main priorities are, how you can support their goals, and how Medicare for All connects to their priorities.
    • Be persistent and creative in identifying the best way to contact new groups. You may need to use Facebook messenger, twitter, or the phone number or general email on their website to figure out how to contact them. Expect to try a second time about a week later if you don’t hear an answer.
    • When reaching out, share a draft of your resolution (if you’ve written it already) or a copy of a resolution passed by a similar city. Invite your potential coalition partners to provide suggestions for clauses to add to your resolution that relate more directly to their work, such as maternal mortality statistics, disability rights issues, transportation poverty, or racial justice – to name a few.
    • Consider whether it might make sense to give a presentation about your Medicare for All resolution effort at an upcoming meeting of a target organization. You can find out through your contact or outreach email if a meeting is coming up and ask if you can make a brief presentation about the resolution to encourage the organization’s endorsement.
    • Be clear about what you’re asking for. Some supportive organizations can offer more assistance than others. Let the organization’s representative know that you will be delighted if they are interested in any of the following: an endorsement, attending one of your organizing meetings, having one of their members join you for a meeting with a local legislator, or offering advice or introductions on how to work with the council.
    • Offer to have a quick phone call to answer any questions they might have about the resolution – or set a date in advance for a group meeting for anyone who would like to attend.

Case study: building a local coalition

How to keep your coalition going after passing your resolution

  • Look into the possibility of passing resolutions in other nearby towns and counties. While it helps to live in the municipality where you’re trying to pass a resolution, it’s not essential. We can help you figure out ways to find like-minded people in the nearby towns to join the team.
  • Discuss how to escalate pressure on your Member of Congress.
  • Show up for the struggles of the other organizations represented in the coalition.
  • Is there already a statewide coalition for Medicare for All supporters in your state? If not, we can help connect you with other activists who passed resolutions in other parts of your state and think about ways that you can work together to build one.

This set of instructions is based on the experience of local organizing efforts that relied on the coalitions they built in order to pass their resolution. We will continue to add new tips and ideas as we learn from the amazing work led by resolutions activists around the country.