SWOT-Internal Analysis

In Board Development, Evaluations, Strategic Planning by Geoff Burns

Ah yes, the SWOT analysis. IF you don’t already know what that is, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This analysis breaks down in to two different components, the internal (strengths and weaknesses), and the external (opportunities and threats). For the purposes of this post, we will focus on the internal environment.

Before we begin to analyze the internal environment, we should first understand why this is important. “Know Thyself” is a phrase that you may recall from your high school literature class or college philosophy course. It was a guiding doctrine of the Philosopher Socrates. It was inscribed at the temple of Apollo at Delphi. The Holy scriptures even state that we are to love our neighbor as our self. In order to do that, we must know ourselves. Why am I going on this tangent? Well, non-profit organizations must know themselves if they are to make effectively use resources and make necessary changes within the organization. The internal analysis is all about knowing thyself.

What is the internal analysis for? Ultimately, it helps identify the performance of all of the internal operations of the organization. Areas for consideration include strategic planning, financial management, marketing (both inbound and outbound), fundraising, organizational leadership and staffing, operational structure, evaluations, etc. Anything that can be controlled is included in the internal analysis. Lets take a look at the internal components of the SWOT analysis.

First we must identify the organizational strengths. Essentially, we are asking ourselves, “what do we do well?” This question is meant to look at positive internal assets, factors, or situations which are at this very point in time favorable for the organization. Examples could include demand for the services of the organization, or they could be sound financial management. Other common examples could be the depth of skilled volunteers, staff experience, or public support. These are just some crude examples, but each organization should identify its unique strengths.

Likewise, weaknesses need to be addressed.To better address these issues, we can ask, “where can we improve?” For the purposes of identification, we can use the same examples as before but in reverse, ie. lack of demand for services, poor financial management, lack of skilled volunteers, little experience, or less than desirable public support.

Compile the lists and look for ways to improve what you can using the strengths that you have. Use the external analysis which we will look at in April to compile a list of strategic issues and utilize the data to assist in the formulation of a strategic plan of simply design and implement an action plan for your staff.