How to Create an Action Plan

An Action Plan is a step-by-step map that charts your course toward successful advocacy work. Take some time to write and talk with others about each of these questions:

The concern:

  • What is the big picture problem?

The issue:

  • How does that big picture problem relate to your own situation→ naming a specific issue
  • How is the issue situated in your own context?
  • What about the issue is within your power to change?

The frames:

  • How is this issue framed in the current public consciousness?
  • What kind of frame would better communicate your issue?

The audience:

  • Who are the decision makers about your issue?
  • Are those decision makers the main audience?
  • Is there a secondary audience that would be important to reach?
  • What do you know about the frames they hold about the issue?
  • Who are your allies in this work?  Who are the opponents?  The undecideds?

The message:

  • How can you translate your issue into a statement that will move your audience to action?
  • How can you shape your message to reach the people you need to reach?
  • What is the context for your issue/message?

The results:

  • What change are you seeking?
  • What are the long-term, intermediate, and short-term goals that you need to consider along the way?
  • How does your context figure in?
  • How will you know you’re successful?
  • What is your timeline?


  • What actions will you take to create change surrounding your issue?
  • What tactics make most sense in the short-term, intermediate, and long-term?
  • What tactics fit for particular audiences?  Are you seeking to inform, change minds, inspire someone to take action, or something else?

After naming these, fill out an Action Planning Sheet (Download a word version of this sheet here.

One note: Creating a plan is an important place to start but it’s equally important to be flexible enough to work beyond the plan.  Many teachers find that their plan sets them on the journey but the path can take unexpected twists and turns.

Looking for inspiration? Check out this example of a full-fledged action plan from Alaine Feliks who is working to build a vibrant reading community at her school.