Episode 8 | Strategic Planning Step Four: Assess Your Organization


On today’s show, we are talking about Step 4 of the strategic planning process, Assessing Your Organization.  This step is important because it allows us to hit the pause button and really talk about ourselves and the organization as a whole.  This allows to get all the players in the same room and discuss what they’re good at as well as areas that need improved.  It forces you to have critical conversations and determine how your organization can grow.

What is a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is a tool that anyone can apply to any part of their organization – fundraising, marketing efforts, past events, as well as programs and services.  A SWOT analysis is NOT a strategic plan.  Here are some questions to get you thinking about each area:


  • What are some advantages of your programs and services?
  • What do you do better than anyone else out there?
  • What are some unique resources you can draw upon that others can’t?
  • What does your community see as your strengths?
  • What factors mean you actually get the funding, donations, or support?
  • What is your unique selling proposition?

Weaknesses (these can be turned into opportunities)

  • What could we improve upon?
  • What should be eliminated?
  • What does your community see as your weaknesses?
  • What’s missing or not working properly?


  • What are some opportunities out there that exist for your organization?
  • What would allow you to get more funding and have a greater impact?
  • What areas of leverage could you exploit?
  • What interesting trends did you find in your environmental scan?


  • What obstacles do you face?
  • What are your competitors doing?
  • Are your quality standards changing for your programs and services?
  • What outside factors could make your organization vulnerable?
  • What risks do you need to prepare for?
  • How do you protect your data from security breaches?
  • Is there a linchpin that could potentially bring down the entire organization?

Who should be at the table when performing a SWOT analysis?

Core planning team, other stakeholders (volunteers, donors, staff members, board members)

How often should an organization do a SWOT analysis?

This is such a helpful tool that it should be used liberally throughout your organization because you can SWOT anything.

What happens after the SWOT analysis is complete?

A lot of organizations get through this exercise and then stop.  I encourage you to go back to your strengths listed and determine how you can enlist the strengths.  This is also a great opportunity to brainstorm around your weaknesses and find solutions that you may decide to incorporate into your strategic plan.  And, now that you have a list of threats, you can talk about how the organization can either deal with or overcome those threats.  This is the time to put a plan into action in order to make improvements.

We know being a nonprofit executive is a lonely job and we want you to know that you are not alone as you work toward your mission.  If you like the content of the podcast, as well as the work we do, we invite you to join the Nonprofit Executive Club.  The Executive Club is a monthly training program that gives you the ability to increase your influence through strategic planning and fundraising support.  For more information and to join the Club, go to nonprofitexecutiveclub.com.

Download the Strategic Plan Toolkit

For more information about Mary Valloni, visit maryvalloni.com and to download our free Fundraising Freedom Roadmap, go to maryvalloni.com/roadmap. Get a copy of Mary’s book, Fundraising Freedom.

Interested in learning more about Joel Kessel?  Visit kesselstrategies.com to find out how Joel helps growth-minded leaders gain clarity.

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