Building and Sustaining Community Partnerships for Teen Pregnancy Prevention: A Working Paper. 4. Defining the Mission, Goals & Objectives

06/01/1998

There appears to be unanimity in the literature on the need to create a formal statement of the partnership's mission and its goals and objectives.(123) Butterfoss and colleagues see this as the most important element in organizing a partnership.(124) Failure to clearly define the mission, goals and objectives is among the most commonly reported obstacles to partnership development among substance abuse prevention groups.(125) These formal documents not only clarify the purpose of the partnership and provide guidelines against which to measure success, they also provide a mechanism for the individual members to come to a common mission and shared view of the group's role.(126) The importance of citizen participation in defining the problem, establishing priorities, and shaping the mission, as well as implementing activities and retaining control over what happens in the community is emphasized by many.(127)

Some studies suggest that the mission be unique to the partnership, not identical with the mission of any of the member organizations.(128) Some find that more targeted missions rather than more global ones lead to higher levels of action and change in the community.(129) Goals and objectives need to be understood by all partners;(130) they have to be realistic.(131) Several studies suggest defining some short-term goals to allow for early successes that will lend credibility to the partnership and help sustain effort.(132) Others caution against tackling goals that are too large.(133) The partnership's sense of purpose needs to be reestablished periodically to revitalize and refocus the group.(134)

In many cases, the mission, goals, and objectives are, to some extent at least, imposed on the community and the partnership from outside. In the case of the Public/Private Ventures-led Community Change for Youth Development partnerships, the evaluator felt that the "focused but flexible" framework established by the funder expedited the move toward consensus and reduced conflict; however, the effect on community ownership of the issue and its solution are not yet known.(135) In another case, in which a model developed elsewhere was replicated in new communities, the process of shaping and adapting the intervention to the needs, resources, and constraints in the local context helped establish local ownership.(136)