Search form

5. Developing Strategic and Action Plans

This toolkit aids in developing a vision, mission, objectives, strategies, and action plan for the effort.

  1. Convene a planning group made up of individuals from the community affected by the problem or issue and others who are in a position to address it. Identify additional partners and invite them into your strategic planning process.
    Related resources:

    Involving Key Influentials in the Initiative
    Involving People Most Affected by the Problem
    Defining and Analyzing the Problem
  2. Describe the vision for the community or initiative (their dreams for how things should be).
    1. In a workshop, retreat, or dialogue about the group's vision, capture:
      1. Dreams for the community or initiative (e.g., safe neighborhoods)
      2. What success would look like (e.g., healthy youth)
      3. How things ought to be (e.g., caring communities)
      4. What people and conditions would look like if things were consistent with that picture (e.g., health for all)
    2. Review the multiple vision statements.
      List all vision statements proposed.
    3. Choose one or several vision statements with particular power to communicate, and consider whether they are: 1) concise, 2) positive, 3) acceptable, 4) a clear expression of why the group has come together.
      1. Choose visions that are embraced by the group
      2. (As appropriate) Select/edit the several that are particularly effective
      3. Check to see that everyone's voice is heard in the final selections
        Top three statements, and why.
    4. Select one statement that concisely expresses why the group has come to together and is acceptable to all group members.
      What is your group's vision?
      Related resources:
      VMOSA (Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, Action Plan): An Overview
      Proclaiming Your Dream: Developing Vision and Mission Statements
      Leading a Community Dialogue on Building a Healthy Community
      Conducting a Workshop
      Organizing a Retreat
  3. State the mission (the what and why).
    1. Develop (or refine) a mission statement that includes what is to be done and why it is to be done (e.g., "Creating caring communities through education and opportunities to serve."). To do so:
      1. Describe the essential "what" of the organization or initiative by reviewing its core functions and current programs and activities (e.g., training, advocacy, support, partnerships)
      2. Explain the essential "why" of the organization or initiative by reviewing the vision statements (e.g., safe neighborhoods, healthy children)
      3. Frame the mission statement as a single sentence that captures the common purpose (essential what and why) (e.g., "Promoting health families [the why] through parent training and community support [the what]")
        What is your drafted mission statement?
    2. Review the mission statement, making sure it is:
      1. Clear regarding what is to be done and why
      2. Concise (often one sentence)
      3. Outcome oriented
      4. Robust - it leaves open a variety of possible means
      5. Inclusive - reflects the voices of all people who are involved
        What is your final mission statement?

        Related resources:
        Proclaiming Your Dream: Developing Vision and Mission Statements
  4. State the objectives (how much of what the group hopes to accomplish by when).
    1. To develop (or refine) objectives, clearly describe:
      1. Benchmarks that would help us assess where we are now (baseline or pre-intervention) and where we would be if the initiative were successful (objectives).
        What baseline markers could we access and how would we hope they would change if success were attained?
      2. Behavioral objectives: the changes in behaviors we would see if the group's efforts were successful (What would people be saying and doing differently?) (e.g., For preventing adolescent pregnancy - "By 2012, to increase by 40% the reported level of sexual abstinence among 12-15 year olds.")
      3. Population-level objectives: the changes in community-level indicators we would see if the group's objectives were met (How would changes in individual's behaviors add up to outcomes for all those in the community?) (e.g., For adolescent pregnancy - "By 2015, the estimated pregnancy rate among 12-15 year olds will be reduced by 30%")
    2. Review the objectives to determine if they are: (SMART+C)
      1. Specific
      2. Measurable (at least potentially)
      3. Achievable
      4. Relevant (to the mission)
      5. Timed (date for attainment)
      6. Challenging (requiring extraordinary effort)
    3. Be flexible with deadlines in creating objectives. Defining objectives is time consuming and may require second and third considerations for completeness.
      Related resources:
      VMOSA (Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, Action Plan): An Overview
      Creating Objectives
  5. Identify the strategies (how things will be accomplished).
    1. To develop (or refine) strategies, clearly describe how the effort will bring about the mission and objectives. Identify for each:
      1. The levels to be targeted ( i.e., individuals, families and kinship groups, organizations and sectors, and/or broader systems.)
        What different levels of your problem or goal will you target?
      2. For each strategy, consider if it will be universal (i.e., includes all of those who may be at risk or may benefit; e.g. all children and youth) or targeted (i.e., targets those who may be at greater risk for the problem; e.g., youth with a history of violence)
      3. The personal and environmental factors to be addressed by the initiative
        • Personal factors may include: knowledge, beliefs, skills, education and training, experience, cultural norms and practices, social status, cognitive or physical abilities, gender, age, genetic predisposition
        • Environmental factors may include: social support, available resources and services, barriers (including financial, physical, and communication), social approval, policies, environmental hazards, living conditions, poverty, and disparity in status
          What personal factors related to your vision and mission are common among those affected by the problem and those maintaining it?
          What environmental factors related to your vision and mission are common within your targeted community?
      4. Those who can most benefit and contribute and how they can be reached or involved in the effort
        • Targets of change: those who may at particular risk for the issue or whose actions are critical for success. For you, who would this include?
        • Agents of change: those who may be in a position to contribute to the initiative, including targets of change. Who would this include?
        • Community sectors: through which targets and agents of change can be reached or involved
      5. Behavioral strategies to be used. Approaches may include:
        • Providing information and enhancing skills (e.g., conducting a social marketing campaign to educate people about the problem or goal and how to address it)
        • Modifying barriers, access, exposures, and opportunities (e.g., increase availability of affordable childcare for those entering work force)
        • Changing the consequences (e.g., encourage housing developers to create green spaces and mixed income development)
        • Enhancing services and supports (e.g., increase the number of public health centers that provide dental care)
        • Modifying policies and broader systems (e.g., change business policies so that employees can get time off to care for their sick children)
      6. Review the strategies and comment on their appropriateness to the situation and sufficiency in addressing the mission and objectives. Review the strategies for:
  6. Develop (or refine) the action plan by stating the specific community/system changes to be sought that will result in the accomplishment of your goals and objectives
    1. For each strategy, identify specific community and system changes (i.e., new or modified programs, policies, and practices) to be sought.
    2. After compiling a list of potential changes, review each candidate community or system change and rate it on two dimensions:
      1. Importance to the mission (1=not at all, 5=very); and
      2. Feasibility (1=not at all, 5=very)
    3. Secure a formal decision from the group on what community or system changes (intervention components and elements) will be sought (or implemented), with priority given to those changes with high importance and high feasibility
      Related resources:
      Our Model of Practice: Building Capacity for Community and System Change
      Obtaining Feedback from Constituents: What Changes are Important and Feasible
      Providing Information and Enhancing Skills
      Overview of Tactics for Modifying Access, Barriers, and Opportunities
  7. Identify action steps for one key community/system change in the action plan (who is going to do what by when). Describe:
    1. What specific change (e.g., in program or policy) or aspect of the intervention that will occur?
    2. Who will carry it out?
    3. When the intervention will be completed or for how long it will be maintained?
    4. Resources (money and staff) needed/available?
    5. Communication - who should know what about this?
      Related resources:
      Developing an Action Plan
      Identifying Action Steps in Bringing About Community and System Change
      Designing Community Interventions
  8. Evaluate critically the appropriateness of the action plan (i.e., the activities or community/system changes to be implemented). Use the criteria that follow:
    1. Completeness - Are all the intended activities or community/system changes included in your plan? Are a wide variety of strategies and sectors utilized?
    2. Clarity - Is it apparent what will be done and who will do what by when, to bring about change?
    3. Sufficiency - If all that is proposed were accomplished, would it meet the group's mission and objectives? If not, what additional changes need to be planned and implemented?
    4. Resources (money/staff) needed/available?
    5. Currency - Does the action plan reflect the current work and situation?
    6. Flexibility - As the plan unfolds, is it flexible enough to respond to new opportunities, barriers, and changes in the community? Can it be modified as objectives are accomplished or goals adjusted?
      Modify your proposed community and system changes and action plans based on your answers (if necessary).
      Related resources:
      Developing an Action Plan
  9. Indicate how you will use the strategic and action plans. Consider the following potential uses:
    1. Communicate the initiative's purpose to others.
      1. Indicate who should know about the group's vision, mission, objectives, strategic and action plans.
      2. Describe how the initiative will communicate this new framing of what it does and why.
    2. Check the organization's core functions.
      1. Indicate who should know about the group's vision, mission, objectives, and the core functions of the organization represented (e.g., advocacy, training).
      2. What adjustments might be appropriate to the vision, mission, and action plan?
    3. Find common ground and anticipate potential conflict.
      1. Identify potential disagreements about ends and means that the group is facing.
      2. Indicate how you might use this new framing of the problem or goal to build consensus.
    4. Plan how to detect or discern opportunity
      1. Identify the criteria that will be used to judge an "opportunity". These might include qualities such as:
      2. Consistency with the vision
      3. Consistency with the mission
      4. Contributes to the action plan
      5. In light of the vision, mission, and action plan, pinpoint new or emerging opportunities for the community initiative or organization.
        What steps will you take to better detect or discern new or emerging opportunities?
    5. Identify potential partners
      1. Indicate who is out there who can help the group achieve its vision and mission. List organizations that share this common work.
      2. In light of the vision, mission, and action plan, identify some potential partners that the community initiative or organization should collaborate with.
        Who or what organizations in your community would be good partners, based on your vision and mission?

        Related resources:
        Developing an Action Plan
        Communicating Information About Community Health and Development Issues
        Developing a Plan for Communication
        Discovering and Creating Possibilities
        Coalition Building I: Starting a Coalition
  10. Begin implementing action planning steps. Choose the order by considering:
    1. Which changes need to be completed before others can? Some changes may require other changes and relationships to be established.
    2. Which changes are easier or quicker to bring about? Could completing them give the organization's membership a sense of success and provide the organization with much needed media exposure?
    3. Which changes are the most important or key to the initiative's objectives?
    4. Which changes would inspire and encourage participants and build credibility within the community?
      Using the list from Step 6, prioritize implementation considering the previous considerations (e.g., ease or quickness of accomplishing, importance to meeting objectives, etc.)
  11. Review the action plan at regular intervals. As your coalition grows and the objectives are accomplished or conditions change, members may revise the plan.
    Related resources:
    Developing an Action Plan

Sunflower field with the text "Featured Toolkit Example" at the top.

Roadmap to a Healthier Douglas County

Based upon the results of a comprehensive community health assessment identifying issues impacting the health of Douglas County residents, a broad array of community partners helped develop this community health plan.

Read more.


Cover of the action plan with the text "Featured Toolkit Example" at the top.

Forward through Ferguson Action Plan

Forward through Ferguson's Action Plan lays out the three Action Strategies that guide the organization’s work for the next three years as it works to achieve a racially equitable St. Louis by the year 2039, which will mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Michael Brown.

Read more.

Image of a stack of books with an apple on top of them.

Sixteen training modules
for teaching core skills.
Learn more.

Image of hands with a seedling in them and the words Donate Now below them.

The Tool Box needs your help
to remain available.

Your contribution can help change lives.
Donate now.