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Action Planning for coalitions

Coalitions are integral players in this community-based work. They can bring people together from diverse organizations to collaborate and achieve common goals. A coalition’s vision, mission and goals provide guidance, but more specific actions are required to really create change. 

Once you have established your coalition’s goals, you’ll need to think about the objectives and activities needed to accomplish these goals. First, ask yourself these questions:

  • WHAT are we going to do?
  • WHY is it important for us to accomplish this activity?
  • WHO is going to be responsible for the activities?
  • WHEN do we want this to be completed?
  • HOW are we going to do these activities?


Developing an Action Plan

Armed with answers—you’re ready to create an action plan that lists measurable objectives, concrete activities, timelines and responsible parties that will help achieve coalition goals.

Your action plan is the starting point for your coalition and can be updated and revised over time. A solid action plan has four key components:


Objectives are the targets that measure the accomplishment of each goal. Objectives break the goal down into smaller parts that you can measure, which makes it easier to track progress.


Evidence-Based Activities

The South Dakota Tobacco Control Program has outlined and identified evidence-based activities known to engage groups and communities and help promote prevention and cessation efforts. Visit the Toolkit section for ideas and examples. 


The key to setting realistic timelines is to be clear about methods of communication. In-person meetings are always preferred but may be limited due to geography or funding constraints. Consider alternate methods (i.e., web or teleconference) and be clear about participation expectations. For more on building a successful Community of Practice (CoP), visit CDC.

Responsible Parties Action is best achieved when you connect with a wide range of responsible parties. Since membership and leadership is often voluntary, divide responsibilities to reduce the workload of any one individual. Bring your team together to share best practices, discuss common problems and collaboratively create solutions. For more on how to select members to fill team roles, visit CDC’s Responsibilities within CoPs.


Use S.M.A.R.T. Objectives to drive the work of the coalition and provide specific direction for coalition members and the community.
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound


  • What exactly are we going to do in this CoP?
  • What strategies will we use?
  • Is the objective clear?
  • Is the objective described with strong action verbs such as conduct, develop, build, plan or execute?
  • Who will be involved?
  • Is the outcome specified?
  • Will this objective lead to the desired results?


  • How will we know that change has occurred?
  • Are we able to gather these measurements?


  • Can it be done in the proposed timeframe?
  • Are the limitations and constraints understood?
  • Can we do this objective with the resources available to us currently?


  • Do we have the resources available to achieve this objective?
  • Is it possible to achieve this objective?


  • When will this objective be accomplished?
  • What is the stated deadline?
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Explore more about Action Planning for coalitions with details on Recruitment and MembershipEvaluation and Sustainability Planning!