Determine Priorities and Writing Goals and Objectives – Chapter Overview

After generating a list of health concerns based on your community assessment, the next step is to focus your teams efforts. This chapter helps you determine priorities and write goals and objectives related to the priorities. Creating a logic model is another tool to help you develop programs and services and is sometimes reviewed along with objectives. In Moving to the Future: Nutrition and Physical Activity Program Planning, logic models are covered in the evaluation chapter.


Prioritize Health Concerns After conducting a community assessment you may have a list of health issues or concerns that your community could address. Moving to the Future advises you to prioritize by choosing one or two health issues to focus on. The materials in this section include criteria to consider when determining priorities and techniques to facilitate a committee decision. The purpose of the materials in this section is to provide guidance. Use what is helpful and modify materials to meet your communitys needs. Post a question or comment on the Moving to the Future website Forum to get additional help. After going through the community assessment process, your coalition may have already decided to focus on child and adolescent healthy weight, or food security, or heart disease prevention, for example, or some other healthy priority. If so, this step of prioritizing is not necessary for you now. However, you may need help prioritizing intervention ideas and these materials will be helpful in that process.


Set Health Goals Once the health priority is set, you can write goals and objectives. The materials in this section can help your team write a health goal. There is no single, standard definition of health goal, so agencies and organizations define it differently. The definition for health goal in these materials is broad and suggests that few details be written in the goal. If your organization uses a different definition or committee members prefer a tighter definition, then adapt these tools accordingly. Use what is helpful in these materials and modify them to meet your needs.


Develop Objectives Once your team has finalized its health goal, you can start writing objectives. Objectives are the pathways to achieving a goal. Moving to the Future describes and defines two different objectives–outcome objectives and process objectives. As always, use what is helpful and modify the materials to meet your needs.


Important Points of This Chapter


  1. Coalition members should not get discouraged by different terms and definitions.
  2. Coalition members should agree on and understand the definitions and distinctions that the coalition decides to use. If your agency or funding source has specific definitions for goals and objectives, use those definitions.
  3. Commit your coalition to improving its objective-writing every year–there is always room for improvement and with experience you will get better.

  Priority, Goal, and Objectives Summary Sheet : Use this sheet to record your top priority, health goal, outcome objectives, and process objectives.

 How to Involve Partners–tip sheet : This is a list of ways that partners can help conduct a community assessment




People work together in a number of ways, in coalitions, partnerships, committees, teams, task forces, and so on. The tools in Moving to the Future will help you no matter how your group is structured. To make Moving to the Future friendly to people working together in different ways, we use these group terms interchangeably. So, if you are working in a formal committee and Moving to the Future uses the word team, the information applies to you as well.


In Moving to the Future, the word program is defined broadly and could encompass any group of activities including projects, services, programs, and policy or environmental changes.

Nutrition and Physical Activity

In Moving to the Future, we often pair the wordnutrition with the phrase physical activity, as for example in “address the nutrition and physical activity needs” or “develop a nutrition and physical activity plan.” This does not suggest that these materials are only useful to people working on community-based nutrition AND physical activity programs. You can use the Moving to the Future resources to develop a plan focused only on nutrition or a plan focused only on physical activity. Moving to the Future provides guidance on a process–not on content. In fact, these materials could be adapted and used to develop a teen pregnancy prevention plan, for example, or a plan for any other community health priority.

Be Flexible & Realistic

Moving to the Future principles Flexible and Realistic are the bywords of this approach. The intent of Moving to the Future is to provide guidance. Use what is helpful and modify materials to meet your needs. Planning and implementing community-based programs is not work that can be done perfectly. Do the best you can, given your real-world limitations, and commit to making improvements every year.