Group discussion with two leaders in a gym filled with kids.
Credit: WHO/ Y. Shimizu

Why Plan?

Collaborative planning provides a blueprint for working together and engages communities and other stakeholders in the process of developing a shared mission, objectives, and action plan to address priority issues and goals.


Key Questions to Consider

  • What is the issue and priority goal(s) identified through engagement and assessment?
  • What will success look like, and how will we get there?
  • What is the shared mission and objectives?
  • What conditions need to be changed to achieve the mission and objectives (e.g. practices, programs, policies)? What will it take to get there?
  • How will we address factors that contribute to the issue or goal in the community? How can we reach those most affected?
  • What is our framework for action (or logic model) showing how strategies or interventions will produce the intended objectives?
  • What promising practices (or evidence-based interventions) will be implemented to improve conditions and desired outcomes?
  • How will we deliver the intervention so that is culturally-appropriate and relevant to our community context, reaches those who are most affected, and achieves intended results?
  • Who is best positioned to implement strategies or interventions to achieve results and to reach those most affected? In what time frame?
  • What resources and assets will support implementation?
  • How will we support or create mechanisms to enable people, including those most affected and those who can address the issue, to be involved in planning?


Some Recommended Actions

  1. __ State the mission (what and why) and the measurable objectives (how much of what you hope to accomplish by when) for the community engagement effort.
  2. __ Identity and assess promising practices to address the issue and achieve the objectives.
      • Review and assess evidence-based and practice-based interventions to address the issue
      • Consider specific changes in communities and systems to be implemented (e.g. changing policies; strengthening services and supports; modifying access, barriers and opportunities)
  3. __ Choose strategies or interventions to achieve the objectives based on an assessment of promising practices. Specify the core components and specific elements of the strategies or interventions. This may include:
      • Providing information and enhancing skills (e.g. public announcements, skill training)
      • Modifying access, barriers and opportunities (e.g. improved access to health services)
      • Enhancing services and supports (e.g. peer support groups)
      • Changing the consequences (e.g. increasing incentives for desired behavior)
      • Modifying policies and broader systems (e.g. business and public policies)
  4. __ Develop the framework for action or logic model to describe what success looks like and the pathway by which our actions will lead to intended outcomes. This is important to guide evaluation later in the community engagement effort (see Evaluate section). The framework should include information about:
      • Mission and objectives (i.e. the issue or goal that the effort is addressing)
      • Context or conditions (i.e. the situation in which the effort will take place and the factors that may affect outcomes)
      • Inputs (i.e. the resources necessary to implement the action)
      • Strategies or interventions (i.e. what the initiative will do to effect change and improvement)
      • Outputs (i.e. direct evidence of having performed the activities)
      • Intended effects or outcomes (i.e. the changes to be made in the short, medium, and long term)
  5. __ Target the strategies or interventions to be appropriate and accessible to the community context and specific groups you want to assure are reached and engaged.
      • Account for relevant social determinants affecting the issue or goal (e.g. education and training, social status, support networks, financial or other barriers, cultural norms and practices, discrimination)
      • Adapt the strategy or intervention to fit the needs and context of the community (e.g. differences in resources, values, interests, experiences, competence, language, power)
  6. __ Identify those who can best implement the action, and how they can be engaged in the effort.
      • Targets of change: those from groups most affected by health inequities (e.g. low-income families) and those whose actions are critical for success (e.g. community health workers)
      • Agents of change: those who may be in a position to change factors and determinants that affect the issue or goal, including those with power and influence (e.g. agency administrators, elected or appointed officials)
      • Sectors: those channels or settings through which targets and agents of change can be reached and engaged (e.g. health, education, food, housing, transport)
  7. __ Identify resources and assets to be used in the action (e.g. people, financial resources, knowledge and skills, technologies).
  8. __ Develop an action plan that is based on evidence to move the work forward. This should include:
      • Strategies or interventions to be implemented, including the core components and elements (e.g. providing information, modifying access and barriers, changing policies)
      • Considerations of the implications for communities, especially vulnerable groups
      • Action steps that define roles and responsibilities (e.g. who will do what by when)
      • Organizational structures needed to support ongoing implementation and monitoring and evaluation
      • Resources and supports needed for ongoing implementation and monitoring and evaluation
      • Anticipated barriers and/or resistance and planned counteraction
      • Communication and stakeholders that need to be informed


Examples of Planning

Empowering communities through microplanning in the Federated States of Micronesia


Resources to Help You Plan

Resources from the Community Tool Box


Developing a Framework or Model of Change

Developing Strategic and Action Plans

Developing an Intervention


Troubleshooting Guides for Solving Common Problems

We don’t know what to do to solve the problem


Additional Resources (reading, tools, examples, and PowerPoints)

Chapter 2: Models of Promoting Community Health and Development

Chapter 5: Choosing Strategies to Promote Community Health and Development

Chapter 8: Developing a Strategic Plan

Chapter 17: Analyzing Community Problems and Solutions

Chapter 18: Deciding Where to Start

Chapter 19: Choosing and Adapting Community Interventions


Resources from WHO

Role of community engagement in situations of extensive community transmission of COVID-19 (WHO-WPRO)

Actions for consideration in the care and protection of vulnerable population groups for COVID-19 (WHO-WPRO)

WHO Western Pacific regional action plan for the response to large-scale community outbreaks of COVID-19 (WHO-WPRO)

Risk communication and community engagement action plan guidance COVID-19: Preparedness and response (WHO, UNICEF, IFRC)

COVID-19 Planning guide for adapting risk communications and community engagement as public health and social measures shift (GOARN RCCE Working Group)

Finding community-led solutions to COVID-19 (GOARN RCCE Working Group)

Risk communication and community engagement readiness and response to COVID-19 (WHO)

Community engagement and social mobilization (WHO)

Models and Tools for Health Workforce Planning and Projections (WHO)


Resources from Other Sources

The engagement planning workbook (Book 2) (State Government of Victoria, Australia)

The engagement toolkit (Book 3) (State Government of Victoria, Australia)

Community planning toolkit (Community Places, United Kingdom)

The community development facilitator’s guide (Human Resources Development Canada)

Community engagement planning tool (Tamarack Institute, Canada)

Index of community engagement techniques (Tamarack Institute, Canada)