Community Building: Introduction to Action Planning

What is an action plan?

  • An action plan outlines the steps necessary for action groups to complete in order to achieve their goals and objectives.

Why develop an action plan?

  • Action plans increase accountability and efficiency, and keep group members on task.

Who develops the action plan?

  • The action group works together to create the action plan.
  • It is important to be sure that your action group is well represented by a diverse population. The group should include people from many different sectors of the community, including: media, business community, religious groups, schools, youth organizations, social service organizations, health organizations, etc.

How to write an action plan

  • First, clarify your charge. What is your group working to accomplish? Ensure all group members are on the same page.
  • Use the action planning template to guide your planning. The action planning template can be used to help select a project by comparing and contrasting resources and support needed and available; potential barriers; and impact.
  • Once a project has been selected, name the project and determine who will be involved and what the timeline for completion is.
  • Use the action planning template to break down the steps, taking time to respond to each column: by whom, by when, resources and support available/needed, potential barriers, communication plan for implementation, and impact.
  • Review action plan carefully to check for completeness

Tips for success

  • The more detailed the action plan, the better. Take the time to plan out the steps and work through potential barriers and resources needed before starting the project.
  • Divide the project into manageable chunks. If one step seems too challenging, try to divide it into several smaller steps.
  • Follow up on the action plan regularly. Support action group members at regular meetings and keep track of accomplishments and tasks  to be completed.


Molly Donovan
Community Economic Development State Specialist
Assoc State Specialist
Phone: (603) 862-5046
Office: Cooperative Extension, Nesmith Hall Rm 204C, Durham, NH 03824