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Section 23. Developing and Using Criteria and Processes to Set Priorities

What do we mean by developing and using criteria and processes to set priorities?

__ Criteria are standards for making a judgment.

­­__ Priority is the order of importance in which one thing falls in relation to another.

__ Criteria are needed both to choose the issues that are most important to work on, and to decide on the best approach to use with each issue.

__ Inclusive and participatory processes involving all stakeholder groups are needed for choosing both types of criteria in order to ensure community support and buy-in.

Why develop and use criteria and processes to set priorities?

__ It creates a structure that makes setting priorities both more rational and more likely to reflect the realities of the community.

__ It ensures that you address the most important issues for your community.

__ It gives you a chance to involve the community in the effort and to get community buy-in.      

__ An inclusive criteria-setting process makes sure you don’t miss anything that only stakeholders know.

__ Establishing criteria in a structured and inclusive way ensures that the process is fair and that everyone’s concerns are aired.

__ The process of selecting criteria allows an opportunity to educate stakeholders who may not have had this kind of experience before about how to make informed, fair, and reasoned decisions.

Who should be involved in developing and using criteria and processes to set priorities?

__ Those most affected by community issues and/or inequities.

__ Organizations and institutions that serve or otherwise deal with those groups.

__ Those charged with carrying out or otherwise implementing proposed interventions, changes in policies or regulation, or preventative measures.

__ Those whose jobs or lives will be affected by interventions, policy changes, or preventive measures.

__ Citizens concerned with the issue(s) at hand.

__ Local and other funders.

When should you develop and use criteria and processes to set priorities?

__ At the very beginning of the effort, before you start the assessment if possible.

How do you develop and use criteria and processes to set priorities?

__ Assemble a participatory group representative of all stakeholders.

__ Train and support people who might not have the experience or self-confidence to contribute what they have to offer.

__ Identify the interests of various stakeholder groups in relation to the process of setting priorities

__ Establish clear criteria for setting priorities for community issues to be addressed.

__ Establish a process for engaging stakeholders and the broader community in setting priorities for issues to address.

__ Establish criteria for selecting an approach to address each of your priority issues.

__ Establish a participatory process for selecting approaches.

__ Finalize your choices

__ Look for ways in which your issue and approach might mesh with other community efforts.

__ Be prepared to monitor your effort and change priorities as conditions change.

Phil Rabinowitz