Key Tips and How-Tos


Use a data-driven, big-picture approach

Assess new communities

Build upon existing connections

Know your prospects

Be Selective


Use a data-driven, big-picture approach

Start with a big picture understanding of your service area, taking advantage of state data on arthritis prevalence and impact, as well as AF and state information on existing program activity. This will help you focus your efforts. For example:


  • The California and Alabama Arthritis Programs mapped program sites using GIS data to identify underserved population areas and prioritize efforts to expand intervention programs. Similarly, the Illinois Department of Public Health used Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), census and other program data to target program efforts to those populations and areas with the greatest need.
  • The Oklahoma Department of Health charted where it has existing programs, which highlighted gaps in services and enabled them to collaboratively develop a plan to fill these gaps and leverage resources. (See figure below.)

How to Assess Community Arthritis Burden tip sheet

Examples from the Field: Mapping in Illinois




Assess new communities


  • When approaching a new area, complete a community assessment to identify key leaders and to determine which organizations can best help you reach your target population.  (AF program staff should collaborate with their chapter development staff on any community assessments that need to be done.)


  See:  Community Assessment Tool


  • Collaborate with other organizations to gather community profile and needs assessment data. For example:

    • When the Kansas Arthritis Program at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment determined that a particular county in their area was underserved, they contracted with Kansas University to lead focus groups and a needs assessment with county residents. This process provided information that was used by the AF chapter staff to guide them about which organizations to approach as partners.

  See:  Examples from the Field: Using Local Research in Kansas


    • The AF Greater Chicago chapter collaborated with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Sinai Institute for Urban Health to gather extensive demographic and community data that was used as the basis for working with two underserved communities. Copies of their comprehensive reports, which highlighted data about the target population and potential partner opportunities are available.



  See:  Examples from the Field: Outreach in Greater Chicago




Build upon existing connections

  • Research current and past individuals who have served as members of the state arthritis coalition and other key individuals involved with the AF and/or state health department who are affiliated with or could open doors to system partners. For example, the AF New York Chapter program staff collaborated with their development staff to expand a fund-raising relationship with the CEO of a health plan to include implementation of the AF Self-Help Program to the health plan’s 55,000 members with arthritis.


  See:  Examples from the Field: New York Partners with Health Plans

  • Explore the potential for expanding existing organization collaborations. For example, look into affiliations the state health department already has to do similar types of community programs or chronic disease initiatives. Look also to organizations that have sponsored AF fund-raising events or other activities.

  • Review the locations where you are currently offering programs and look upstream to see if there is a headquarters, regional office or umbrella organization with whom you could work.



    When interacting with organizations that cover multiple states and/or chapters, remembers that you cannot enter into any contractual agreement that is binding on any other entity beyond your own area. Contact the AF Chief Public Health Officer for assistance in negotiating multi-state/ regional agreements.




Know your prospects

  • After reviewing all of your information about key organizations in your area, develop a list of potential partners.
  • Do your homework in advance to understand the potential partners’ capabilities and interests.

See:  How to Research Potential Partners tip sheet

Be selective

  • The Collaboration Worksheet will help you fine tune your list of organizations with the most potential. The first part of the checklist screens which organizations meet the criteria as a system partner. The second part of this tool helps you determine an organization’s potential for collaboration, identify what roles it might be able to play and lay the groundwork for your approach.


See:  Collaboration Worksheet


 Prioritize your list

  • Prioritize the list of organizations to approach based on strategic considerations such as which prospects:

    • Have the greatest capacity to reach the most people?
    • Have the greatest geographic reach or are best positioned to introduce and expand the programs into a high-priority underserved area?
    • Are the best match in terms of your vision and goals? For example, who already has a stake in arthritis?
    • Appear to be the easiest with whom to start and maintain a long-term partnership?


See:  What are the Key Characteristics of Ideal System Partners






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