Transforming our world
through nonviolent action
Strategic Planning

(From Midwest Academy Strategy Chart)

Too often activists put the cart before the horse in our campaigns, planning a demonstration or other campaign event (tactic) before deciding upon a goal and an overall plan to get there (strategy).

Think of where you are right now as point “A” and where you want to be, your goal, as point “Z.” Your strategy is the path you walk to get you from A to Z, and your tactics are the individual acts, or steps, you take along that path. Never put tactics before goals and strategy, otherwise you’ll wind up heading in a direction that doesn’t lead you towards your goal.

This simple guide will help you to think through all the pieces of a good campaign strategy, from long-term goals to short-term tactics. Use this chart whenever planning a new campaign or launching a new phase in an existing campaign.

Midwest Academy Strategy Chart

Column 1.
Goals:

  • List the long-term objectives of your campaign
  • State the intermediate goals for this issue campaign. What constitutes victory?
  • How will the campaign:
    1. Win concrete improvement in people’s lives?
    2. Give people a sense of their own power?
    3. Alter the relations of power?
  • What short-term or partial victories can you win as steps toward your long-term goal?

Column 2.
Organizational Considerations:

  • List the resources that your organization brings to the campaign. Include money, number of staff, facilities, reputation, etc.
  • What is the budget, including in-kind contributions, for this campaign?
  • List the specific ways that you want your organization to be strengthened by this campaign, ie. membership goals, fundraising, new constituencies, leadership development.
  • List internal problems that have to be considered if the campaign is to succeed.

Column 3.
Constituents, Allies and Opponents

  • Who cares about this issue enough to join in or help the organization?
    • Whose problem is it?
    • What do they gain if they win?
    • What risks are they taking?
    • What power do they have over the target?
    • Into what groups are they organized?
  • Who are your opponents?
    • What will your victory cost them?
    • What will they do/spend to oppose you?
    • How strong are they?

Column 4.
Targets:

  • Primary targets- (a target is always a person. It is never an institution or elected body.)
    • Who has the power to give you what you want?
    • What power do you have over them?
  • Secondary targets:
    • Who has the power over the people with the power to give you what you want?
    • What power do you have over them?

Column 5.
Tactics:

  • For each target, list the tactics that each constituent group can best use to make its power felt. Tactics must be: in context, flexible and creative, directed at a specific target, make sense to the membership, be backed up be a specific form of power.

    Tactics include: media events, public hearings, strikes, nonviolent civil disobedience, voter registration drives, lawsuits, accountability sessions, elections, negotiations, etc.