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Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is all about what should be done.  Your strategic plan serves as a blueprint towards defining the vision, mission, goals, objectives, and challenges of your community coalition over a specific period of time.   The process of creating a plan has many advantages such as providing a framework for the coalition to operate under; identifying key players in the community; mobilizing support; and exchanging new ideas.  

Strategic planning describes both the process and a concrete plan.  The process of developing a strategic plan also includes the development of an action plan.  Thus, you should first develop a concrete strategic plan and then develop the action plan and evaluation plans. The whole process is referred to as the strategic planning process.

Why is a strategic plan helpful?

A good strategic plan builds on the work that your coalition has done in developing its logic model. It also serves important functions by helping you create elements that are not commonly included in your logic model. Plans usually include a vision; mission; goals; and objectives.   Together, these components provide the rationale for why the coalition should address the specific need.  

The format includes:

  • Vision  – envision a future for the whole community rather than for a specific population or service recipient
  • Mission– Coalition work “behind the scenes” in effecting a change in the community.  They usually fulfill several important missions but emphasize only 1-2 items
  • Goals – Coalition goals are set at the community level and may include the neighborhood, city, county, or region
  • Objectives – Coalitions may employ a broader array of strategies to accomplish its goals rather than focusing on only one


Generally speaking, a strategic plan covers a 3-5 year period. It describes both your hopes for the future and the problems in your community that you would like to address and strategies for addressing them.  It also helps you provide more of the nuts and bolts of how you are going to implement the activities identified by the group by:

  1. Helping you focus on developing a vision statement
  2. Providing guidance on developing a mission statement
  3. Creating objectives and refining strategies that...
  4. Leading to development of an action plan

What's Needed Before Starting a Strategic Plan?

Before beginning work on your strategic plan, it is easier to begin if you and your coalition have a concrete idea for the population you hope to address and your coalition’s capacity to do so. This can be accomplished by beginning with the following products already in hand: 

  • Community Assessment
  • Logic Model
  • Vision
  • Mission
  • Objectives (Objectives should be S.M.A.R.T.and spell out the specific, measurable results the coalition intends to achieve)


Action Planning

Action plans typically contain the same core elements though they are arranged in many ways depending on the coalition’s preference.  Action plans are a key component for successful coalitions because they spell out specifically who, will do what, by when.


Actions plans detail specifically who will be responsible for each actions

Will do what?

Each step required to accomplish an overall task or effort is completely spelled out.

By when?

A specific deadline or timeframe is provided for every step or task to be completed. 

What Resources are Required?

In order to succeed, those willing to assume responsibly for a given task or action usually require some support or resources. Effective action planning insures that volunteers have the resource they need to successfully complete their responsibilities.

Who should know?

In order to ensure good coordination the planning team should ask themselves “who else should know”


The contents and process of action planning are not difficult to understand. It is the most concrete and tangible form of planning coalitions can engage in action planning is where the “rubber” of strategy meets “the road” of execution. While easy to understand action plans do take a bit of time to complete.

Taken, together strategic and action planning can productively move a coalition from community assessment and analysis to effective and focused community action

Developing a Multi-Tiered Approach 

Partnerships should seek to employ a broader array of strategies to meet each of their objectives.  Unlike a program that uses a single approach to address risk factors, strategies can simultaneously focus on various aspects and causes related to the issue.  Collectively, these strategies work on target the individual, community, and behavior.       

Each strategy employed should use measurable outcomes.  This statements of progress, measure the change you expect as a result of your efforts. These outcomes should:

  • Describe the extent of the change (the percentage of increase or decrease) you hope to achieve,
  • Identify the target population or group you want to impact,
  • Specify the behavior, condition or knowledge you hope to change
  • Include a date by which the change can be expected

Tips for Strategic Planning

  • Involve individuals in creating the plan who will be responsible for its implementation. 
  • Assess the plan periodically and update it as appropriate. Step back and ensure that the plan is realistic. 
  • Organize the overall strategic plan into smaller action plans that possibly involve sub-committees. 
  • Ensure members’ understanding of the need for follow-up, monitoring, etc. every quarter to ensure each assigned task is completed on schedule; set up tracking system. 
  • Allow for a 30-day review of the initial draft, so key participants can offer input. 
  • Encourage presentation of the plan for group presentations, town meetings, etc.


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