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Effective community planning is the foundation for building strong, vibrant communities. A good community plan can guide a community towards its desired future, set priorities for action, and provide a framework for decision-making. However, creating a community plan that truly reflects the community’s vision and priorities can be a complex and challenging process. In this post, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide to help communities move from vision to action in creating effective community plans.

Step 1: Set a Vision and Goals The first step in creating an effective community plan is to set a vision and goals. This involves engaging community members in a dialogue about what they want their community to look like in the future. The vision should be aspirational and inspirational, and should reflect the community’s values and aspirations. Goals should be specific, measurable, and achievable, and should provide a roadmap for achieving the vision.

Step 2: Conduct a Community Assessment After setting a vision and goals, it’s important to conduct a community assessment to understand the current state of the community. This involves gathering data on demographics, economic conditions, land use, housing, transportation, environmental conditions, and other factors that influence the community’s well-being. This information can help identify community strengths and challenges, and can inform the development of strategies and action steps.

Step 3: Develop Strategies and Action Steps Based on the vision, goals, and community assessment, the next step is to develop strategies and action steps to achieve the community’s vision. Strategies should be specific and tailored to the community’s unique needs and priorities, and should be grounded in research and best practices. Action steps should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, and should outline the specific activities and timelines for achieving each strategy.

Step 4: Engage the Community Engaging the community is critical to the success of the community planning process. Community engagement can take many forms, such as public meetings, surveys, workshops, focus groups, and online platforms. It’s important to ensure that all community members have an opportunity to participate in the planning process, and that their input is valued and reflected in the final plan.

Step 5: Implement and Monitor the Plan Once the community plan is developed, the next step is to implement it. This involves identifying resources, establishing partnerships, and putting the strategies and action steps into action. It’s important to monitor progress towards achieving the goals, and to make adjustments as needed based on changing conditions and new information.

Creating an effective community plan requires a collaborative, inclusive, and data-driven process that reflects the community’s vision, goals, and priorities. By following the steps outlined above, communities can move from vision to action, and create a plan that will guide their community towards a vibrant, sustainable, and equitable future.


  • Community planning
  • Strategic planning
  • Action planning
  • Goal setting
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation
  • Community development
  • Collaboration
  • Leadership


Creating effective community plans is important for a number of reasons:

  1. Clear direction: A well-designed community plan can provide a clear direction for the future of a community. It can help prioritize goals and objectives, identify actions to achieve those goals, and provide a roadmap for decision-making.
  2. Community engagement: Developing a community plan can involve the participation of a wide range of stakeholders, including residents, local businesses, community organizations, and government agencies. This engagement can help build support for the plan and ensure that it reflects the needs and priorities of the community.
  3. Resource allocation: A community plan can help guide the allocation of resources, such as funding and staff time, towards projects and initiatives that will have the greatest impact on the community.
  4. Accountability: An effective community plan includes a mechanism for monitoring progress and evaluating outcomes, which can help hold decision-makers accountable for following through on the plan’s goals and objectives.
  5. Collaboration: Developing a community plan often requires collaboration among diverse stakeholders, which can help build trust and foster relationships that can be leveraged to address other community challenges.


Sure, here are some general guidelines that can help in creating effective community plans:

  1. Identify the purpose and scope of the plan: Determine the specific issues and challenges that the plan will address, and define the geographic area or population that the plan will cover.
  2. Engage stakeholders: Seek input and participation from a diverse group of stakeholders, including community residents, businesses, organizations, and government agencies.
  3. Conduct a needs assessment: Collect and analyze data on the community’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Use this information to identify priorities and establish goals for the plan.
  4. Develop strategies and actions: Identify specific strategies and actions to achieve the goals outlined in the plan. Assign responsibility for each action and establish timelines and benchmarks for progress.
  5. Create an implementation plan: Outline the steps necessary to implement the strategies and actions, including resource requirements, funding sources, and potential partners.
  6. Monitor and evaluate progress: Establish a system for monitoring progress towards the plan’s goals, and regularly evaluate the effectiveness of the plan’s strategies and actions. Use this information to make adjustments and improvements as needed.
  7. Communicate the plan: Share the plan with the community and stakeholders, and use a variety of communication strategies to ensure that it is widely understood and supported.
  8. Update the plan: Regularly review and update the plan to reflect changing community needs and priorities.

Overall, a successful community planning process is inclusive, collaborative, and responsive to community needs. By following these general guidelines, communities can create effective plans that promote positive change and help achieve shared goals.


Here are some references related to “A Guide to Creating Effective Community Plans”

  1. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). (2000). From vision to action: A guide to creating effective community plans. Retrieved from https://www.huduser.gov/portal/sites/default/files/pdf/FromVisionToAction.pdf
  2. American Planning Association. (2021). Community planning toolkit. Retrieved from https://www.planning.org/community-toolkit/
  3. International City/County Management Association. (2018). Strategic planning for local government: A handbook for officials and citizens. Retrieved from https://icma.org/sites/default/files/327309_Strategic%20Planning_Web.pdf
  4. National League of Cities. (2019). The role of planning in community development. Retrieved from https://www.nlc.org/resource/the-role-of-planning-in-community-development/
  5. The Aspen Institute. (2018). Guide to community visioning: Six steps to creating a long-range plan for your community. Retrieved from https://www.aspeninstitute.org/publications/guide-to-community-visioning-six-steps-to-creating-a-long-range-plan-for-your-community/

These resources provide additional information, tools, and guidance on community planning and strategic planning processes.

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