How to perform a SWOT analysis

Doing a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis for a charity or non-profit is an essential first step to effective strategic planning and fundraising. It gives a quick scan of the environment.

Here’s a quick summary of the steps and also a downloadable form that you can share with your board of directors.

STEP 1: Get input from multiple perspectives including multiple levels of the organization and even clients and users of your services.

STEP 2: Consider these external factors that will affect your organization:

  • Social trends – such as the birth rate or numbers of older people in the population.
  • Technology – what implications do new technologies have for your organisation and your area of work?
  • Economic trends – what are the local, regional, national and even international trends and situations that can affect your organization? For example, interest rate changes may affect your organisation’s investment income.
  • Political and legal matters  – politics, both local and national, influence the environment in which charities and voluntary organisations of all sizes operate.
  • People’s views – what do the users of your services and products think of your organization?

STEP 3: List all your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

STEP 4: Review the opportunities and threats and rank them and rank them to determine greatest impact. The highest priority opportunities would be those that advance your mission and goals. Those could be growth, profit, sustainability, reputation, awareness or countless other metrics. Threats should be prioritized in terms of the size of the threat and the likelihood of the threat becoming a reality.

STEP 5: Identify strengths that can be leverages to create opportunities and/or combat threats, and weaknesses that must be addressed to avoid disaster.

Take into account your organization’s:

  • Services/activities
  • Buildings
  • Clients/users
  • Staff and volunteers
  • Management (board, CEO etc)
  • Organization and structure
  • Communications
  • Revenue
  • Costs

Here’s a downloadable SWOT analysis process and form that you can use for your organization’s SWOT analysis.