What Is a Social Development Plan?

A social development plan is a comprehensive plan that centers on the progress, growth and development of individuals within the context of a community or collective society. The plan can cover a broad range of development, most notably economic and social development. 

According to data published by the Center for Sustainable Systems of the University of Michigan, there are various social development indicators being used today. Among them are the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Gross National Income (GNI) and the Human Development Index (HDI). The same article also states that the United Nations came up with a list of seventeen Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs back in 2015. Among these goals include addressing inequality, hunger and environmental sustainability.   

Key Concepts In Social Development

Social development is a key factor in maintaining functional societies and civilizations. It can encompass a broad range of concepts and subtopics, the following are just some of the major concepts that are intrinsically linked to social development.    

Economic Growth. In today’s language, social development cannot be tackled without discussing the economy. Socio-economic ties are inextricably linked. Both have a profound impact on the other. For example, social development is highly concerned with quality of life. Economic opportunity is one factor that can contribute to increased quality of life. It is the reason why all politicians and state authorities stress the importance of jobs and economic stimulation. The idea is that if countries or nations would have enough job opportunities for their citizens, it would help drive social development and national growth. Of course, a lack of economic stimulation and development would mean people could find themselves stuck, unsatisfied, stagnant or worse, plunged into poverty. Social Security. One characteristic of a developed nation is the presence of a reliable social security and safety net. This means that basic services such as health and education are cascaded to all citizens of a country regardless of social status or economic background. An overwhelming sense of security among citizens is a key indicator that governments are doing their job and that there is dynamic development in other areas. Citizens feel that they are cared for and looked after by a reliable and dependable state. And a social safety net is in place that assures citizens they are not abandoned by their government. Whether it is public programs, welfare initiatives or even legislation, all are aimed to push the agenda of social development. Public-private Partnership. Social development is not exclusive to one sector or institution of society. It is a collaborative effort that involves all stakeholders. Government’s primary task is to deliver social progress and development, but that does not mean the responsibility only falls on the public sector. The private sector must also play its part. In most nations, public-private partnerships are the norm. From infrastructure projects to livelihood programs, there is a long history of governments working side-by-side with private companies and organizations. When social development is the primary task, all stakeholders must contribute to the attainment of the goal. Private entities such as corporations, civic groups, non-government organizations and even private citizens should all make social development a part of their realm of concern. Nation Building. Countries that place a high premium on social development know full well that it is a key ingredient in nation building. When people speak of nation building, it is essentially building the capacity for the country to succeed in its goals and to prosper in a progressive way. This cannot be attained if individual citizens are not empowered or are disenfranchised from their governments. From the very word itself, social development entails progress as a society and as a nation. Regardless if it is a rich and advanced country or a developing nation, the only way to achieve real and sustainable social progress is by building and uplifting the citizens who make up a nation. In summary, the key to nation building is pushing for sustainable socio-economic development. One cannot be without the other.

Requirements for Social Development 

Social development does not happen overnight. It is a long and tedious work-in-progress. In order for social development to succeed, there are certain conditions that make it ideal for it to flourish. The following examples describe some of the basic requirements or conditions needed for sustaining social development.    

Strong Education System. Social development needs a strong foundation in order to branch out to other areas of concern. One of the most basic foundations is the education sector. Young people are the future of a nation, after all; and if there is no concerted effort to build their capacities and abilities, then it is the country’s future that will bear the consequences. Without a robust education system, social development cannot take root. Thus, it is important for countries to enhance academic institutions and invest heavily on youth development. The latter does not only pertain to academic development, but refers to a more holistic kind of development (e.g., emotional, social, physical, etc.) Stable Political Climate. The ideal condition for the expansion of social development goals is a society that supports it. The link between the economic and social aspects was established earlier. But bring in another aspect like the political into the arena, and things can get a little complicated. Governments and states directly affect the delivery of basic services to citizens. And if a country is experiencing civil and political unrest, these services are profoundly disrupted and even threatened. Not only do unstable political circumstances affect market behavior, they threaten to upend any social progress or economic gains. Therefore, the political climate of a country should be conducive enough for a social development agenda to be implemented.Good Governance. In relation to having a stable political climate, good governance and effective leadership contribute greatly to a country’s political landscape. Social development cannot be fully realized without the support and endorsement of key government authorities and agencies. How a government is run profoundly affects the success or failure of development goals. To illustrate, a corrupt or weak government presents a great challenge for social services and progress to trickle down to the lowest levels. Only an honest, resilient and dependable leadership can ensure that social development reaches all corners of a nation. When all is said and done, the question of good governance or strong leadership can be the only thing to make or break a socio-economic development plan. Reliable Healthcare. Just like education, health is one of the most basic necessities in any social development plan. The issue of public health cannot be left out of a discussion on social and economic progress. People often use the phrase “health is wealth”. This cannot be more true for a social development agenda. Not only is a healthy and conducive environment necessary for socio-economic progress, a healthy citizenry is required as well. When malnutrition and food insecurity are a problem, social progress or development cannot be fully realized. In order to advance a holistic and sustainable development agenda, a healthy population is critical.

How to Create a Social Development Plan

To create a social development plan, a holistic approach is necessary. As much as possible, you want a multi-dimensional plan that touches on all important aspects. But if you are looking for faster and more convenient ways to craft a comprehensive plan, using a sample template as a reference can save you a lot of time. Select a free template from the collection above and follow the steps provided below. 

Step 1: Establish the Objectives

Before brainstorming any social development projects or programs, you need to first establish clear and direct objectives. This will set the stage for any plans that will ensue. It is crucial to know what is the driving force behind any action and response in a social development agenda. There must be a clear purpose that will justify any social amelioration program or development project. This section is dedicated to providing just that. Try to keep the objectives as direct and brief as possible. Ensure that they are descriptive and targeted. Having too many objectives could result in a social development plan that lacks focus.   

Step 2: Create Metrics

The next step is setting up a system of measurement that will gauge the success of a social development plan. It is not enough to simply come up with action steps. There must be an objective and rational process behind it. Whether it is a scale or a set of success indicators, criteria must be in place to help calculate the improvement or deficiency of a social development program. This cannot be stressed enough, especially when it comes to improvements and continuous learning. Without a necessary rubric in place, a sustainable social development plan cannot be realized.    

Step 3: Outline the Strategies and Programs

The most important part of a social development agenda will obviously be the plans and action items that will address social development needs. The strategies and programs should directly address the objectives in the previous section. Of course, the content of the plan would vary greatly depending on the kind of social development plan being created. For instance, if your plan is to alleviate poverty in a low-income locality, then the content of your action plans must be directly linked to improving and mitigating the poverty that exists in that particular neighborhood. Lastly, it is important to use action-based words and descriptive language in this section.   

Step 4: Set a Timeline

The final step is to set a timeline for your social development plan. With all the widespread social, economic and political problems happening around the world, solutions and actions must be treated with a keen sense of urgency. For every action plan or strategy, there must be a corresponding timeline that details the fulfillment of the plan. It can be a simple calendar, a Gantt chart or any project management tool that you are comfortable using. The key is plotting a specific timeframe that will help push the development plan forward.      


What is an example of social development?

One example of social development within the context of society is the advancement of poverty alleviation programs or the improvement of public health efforts.

What are the aspects of social development?

Social development can cover several different aspects including the cultural, physical, environmental, political, and socio-economic.

What does social development provide?

For development workers, government employees and even private citizens, social development provides a framework for them to solve social problems and promote a higher quality of life within their communities, localities, and countries.

Social development is a key ingredient for any community or country to move forward and progress as a society. A comprehensive and sound social development plan is what you need! Browse the collection of sample templates above and start customizing your own plan now!