How to Perform a Nonprofit SWOT Analysis (Downloadable Template)

A SWOT analysis examines external opportunities and threats along with internal factors, like your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. This convergence of elements gives your board and staff an unbiased view of what you can accomplish. This article shares how to do a nonprofit SWOT analysis, a detailed example, and how the takeaways can be worked upon.

8 minutes read
How to Perform a Nonprofit SWOT Analysis (Downloadable Template)

As your nonprofit grows, you sometimes lose sight of how you have excelled or fallen short in certain areas, and why donors should choose your nonprofit over other organizations. A SWOT analysis helps you examine your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and gives your board and staff an unbiased view of what can be accomplished.

This article shares how to perform a SWOT analysis – and what to do with that information once you have it.

What is a Nonprofit SWOT Analysis?

A SWOT analysis helps nonprofits by providing a clear view of the issues your organization is dealing with and some insight into how your current strategies are working. You’ll determine your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Nonprofits may decide to perform a SWOT analysis to help with marketing, strategic planning, fundraising, or program development.

SWOT analysis can help your organization in the following ways:

  • Make major internal changes to improve operations
  • Prepare for a new program or a capital campaign
  • Identify potential areas of growth within the organization
  • Evaluate the success of a fundraising event
  • Create a business plan
  • Conduct feasibility studies
  • Analyze the success or failure of a previous fundraising or marketing campaign

…the possibilities are endless!

How to Do a SWOT Analysis for a Nonprofit

SWOT analysis includes several steps. As you work through this process, do your best to be specific and limit biases that could affect the results.

1. Decide what to analyze

Is one of your programs not working out as you hoped? Do you wish a fundraising campaign would bring in more money? Are you planning on forming a separate business to attract funds? These are excellent opportunities for you to perform a SWOT analysis.

You may be tempted to start a SWOT analysis on your entire organization, but it’s best to start small initially. The more specific you get, the deeper you’ll be able to go. After you analyze a program or campaign, you’ll have a better idea of if you’re on the right track.

2. Ask questions

Performing a SWOT analysis will feel different from anything you’ve done, so you may feel confused about how to start. The best way to begin your SWOT analysis is by asking yourself questions and being entirely honest about the answers. Below are a set of questions you can ask to get started:

2.1 Questions to determine strengths

When deciding on your project or organization’s strengths, there are a few questions you can ask:

  • What are you best at?
  • What programs and activities do people like about your nonprofit?
  • How does your organization stand out?
  • What do your donors (recurring donors, members, major donors, sponsors) love about your nonprofit?
  • Which assets do you own (equipment, property, cash, investments, workforce)?
  • What drove your success in getting a major donation in the past?
  • What motivates your passionate volunteer base?

2.2 Questions to determine weaknesses

Weaknesses are not permanent; these are areas where your organization can make changes. Here are a few questions you should begin with:

  • What are the obvious areas of concern?
  • What have beneficiaries and donors mentioned as a problem?
  • Where does your competition excel?
  • Where do your knowledge and resources lack?
  • Did you fail to meet the fundraising goals of your last few online campaigns?
  • Do you think you’re reaching enough people and finding new donors?
  • Are your donors often complaining about no or insufficient updates?
  • Have you ever found success with peer-to-peer fundraising initiatives?

2.3 Questions to determine opportunities

In an ever-changing world of technology and trends, nonprofits have a lot more opportunities to explore than they can imagine. Here are a few questions to get you started –

  • Are there any trends your nonprofit can piggyback on?
  • How can you use your strengths to stand out with potential donors and partners?
  • Are there any other business opportunities you could take advantage of?
  • Are there any new opportunities in your community? Is there an option to move?
  • How can you share your nonprofit’s story with the world?
  • How can you increase your revenue from fundraising events? What add-ons will work the best?
  • In what way can you boost donations to your online fundraising campaigns?
  • Can prospect research significantly improve your donor acquisition efforts?

2.4 Questions to determine threats

You cannot and should not avoid the external elements that often pose a threat to your organization, its fundraising success, outreach, and growth. Check these questions out to start identifying some of these threats –

  • How do other nonprofits address a problem?
  • What makes your organization vulnerable?
  • What trends do you not have the resources to address?
  • How could politics or the economy affect your growth?
  • What do the LYBUNT and SYBUNT reports say about lapsed donors?
  • Why did you lose a key staff member or passionate volunteer to another organization?
  • Why isn’t your nonprofit ready for a capital campaign, despite the need for it?

3. List everything

As you answer these questions, you must list everything that could make a difference. This is where getting more people involved can really help. Take time to interview staff, board members, volunteers, donors, and beneficiaries.

Hiring a consultant can also be helpful. Usually, consultants are unbiased and would do a better job at interviewing donors and stakeholders and identifying major strengths or issues.

Ask the same questions to different groups of people. That will give you a broader view of how the community, your employees, volunteers, and board members see your organization.

4. Create an action plan

The analysis is only part of the process. As you determine your nonprofit’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you must include how you’ll address each issue.

Your action plan should involve how areas could impact each other, who is best to oversee and lead activities, what new resources you’ll need or trends you’ll be adopting, and how long you expect it to take.

Nonprofit SWOT Analysis Sample

nonprofit swot analysis examples

With a SWOT analysis, each organization’s results and the final product will differ. It is your job to find the best way to analyze and work on your collected information. Your nonprofit must split the analysis by external and internal factors. Internal factors include your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Outside factors are potential opportunities and threats. Your SWOT analysis must also include an action plan to help your organization address each issue.

The following SWOT analysis sample is created for an international organization’s event programs.

1. Strengths

(Internal factors)

  • Large donor base located across the country.
  • Passionate volunteers.
  • Connections with potential major donors and sponsors.
  • Decent success with past events.

2. Weaknesses

(Internal factors)

  • Difficult mission to explain and connect with events.
  • Difficulty receiving beneficiary stories.
  • The board of directors is uninterested in donor outreach.
  • Never explored a multi-tiered ticket strategy for event ticketing.

3. Opportunities

(External factors)

  • Volunteers have the potential to throw third-party events to help raise more funds.
  • New major donors may be interested in sponsoring events.
  • Recent technological advancements can help volunteers raise funds online and boost outreach.

4. Threats

(External factors)

  • Competition has a clearer mission and objectives, connected well with their events and campaigns.
  • The recent loss of key staff.
  • Most event attendees don’t feel connected with the nonprofit’s mission.

5. Action plan

Based on the above SWOT analysis, the below action plan can be implemented by the nonprofit for its event programs and overall improvement –

  • Create a simpler mission statement that is easy for all to understand and remember. Train nonprofit staff, volunteers, and the board to simply explain the mission during events with the help of impact stories.
  • Create volunteer networks to hold third-party events and share the organization’s mission with a new audience.
  • Recruit volunteers who have a knack for working on the ground with beneficiaries and can fetch their stories to be used in marketing campaigns and event promotions.
  • Connect with potential major donors and sponsors and ask them to sponsor fundraising events. Discuss possible expectations from their end.
  • Use visual tools, infographics, and gifs to share the organization’s mission on social media. Use paid social media ads to boost outreach of upcoming events.
  • Create a training manual for board members and volunteers on how to connect with donors. Recruit new volunteers and staff with good connections and social media following.
  • Choose an online fundraising tool to encourage volunteers and board members to raise funds with peer-to-peer and crowdfunding campaigns. Train staff, board members, and volunteers on the tool. Encourage them to explore and leverage new fundraising trends.
  • Use an event ticketing tool that helps improve the ticket pricing strategy and management of tickets and purchasers’ information.
  • Look at the nonprofit organizational chart for potential new staff hires.

Downloadable Nonprofit SWOT Analysis Template

Now that you know how to go about a SWOT analysis for your nonprofit, let the below free template get you started right away. Click here to download.

3 Tips to Effectively Use Nonprofit SWOT Analysis Takeaways

1. Tap into your strengths

Finding strengths doesn’t mean you have nothing to work on. In fact, they open new pathways for you to scale your nonprofit growth.

For example, if you have a large donor base that is passionate about your cause, look for ways to boost donations, engage them, and ensure the maximum donor retention rate.

To do that, you’ll need an efficient donor management system that will take care of a lot of tasks. You should be able to segment your donor records by specific filters and create lists by their wealth, campaign preference, giving frequency, giving amounts, and more. With this information, you can then personalize your approach and ensure your ask to a specific group of donors suits their ability and interest. You can also find out potential major donors within your donor base.

With Donorbox’s Donor Management tools, your donor records are securely stored. You can segment them (shown below), add communication notes, and receive alerts for important donor moments such as changes in their recurring plans, first giving anniversary, and first time giving, etc.), integrate with Salesforce, HubSpot, Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT, Little Green Light, and more apps to effectively manage your donor data.

Screenshot of the many filters you can use to sort your donor data on Donorbox.

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2. Adopt new trends in fundraising and nonprofit management

More often than not nonprofits find themselves lagging because of the lack of new tools and adaptability. They worry about how affordable these tools will be or how tough the new trends will be to adapt to. For that same reason, you need to look for a tool that’s a one-stop shop as well as affordable for your nonprofit.

Donorbox provides a plethora of simple-to-use online fundraising features including crowdfunding, peer-to-peer fundraising, text-to-give, QuickDonate™, recurring donations, customizable donation pages, and more. You can also easily create event pages and event ticketing forms with Donorbox Events. The Memberships feature lets you create and run an effective membership program for your organization. Above all, Donorbox is free to start and has no monthly contracts.

Without newer trends like crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising, these days you cannot expect to boost your donations and reach new donors. For example, Maya’s Hope has a crowdfunding page on Donorbox to raise money for the Ukraine Emergency Fund. They have turned this into a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign to encourage their supporters to fundraise for them. If you go to the page and scroll down to the top fundraisers section, you’ll see each one of them has helped raise over $1,500, the highest being over $6,000.

Screenshot of the Maya's Hope Donorbox crowdfunding campaign.

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Fundraising is an essential part of your nonprofit but you will also need other tools such as those for prospect research, social media marketing, accounting, project management, and more.

3. Find help to tackle weaknesses and threats

You have many volunteers, but how often do you look for those with specific skills and experience? Once you learn about your weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, it’s time to leverage your community’s support for your nonprofit. Recruit volunteers who have faced similar situations while working for other nonprofits in the past. Create a team specifically to address these issues or threats.

If your budget permits, you can also recruit staff who will come with expertise and experience in these areas. Your board members should also be able to help.

Don’t hesitate to turn to consulting services for expert inputs in specific areas. There are many affordable services out there. Donorbox Premium offers help through an expert fundraising coach, a dedicated account manager, high-performance tools, and a team of tech wizards. They will help you realize your full donation potential and ensure you meet your fundraising goals with personalized pricing.

Final thoughts

A SWOT analysis is vital to gain a clear focus and strategic plan, but it is only the first step. As you fill out your analysis, include steps your organization can take and assign them to specific staff members. While working on your strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats, you will need several tools to grow your nonprofit and break through the challenges. Donorbox has helped 80,000+ organizations raise money online and acquire and retain more donors through its state-of-the-art features. Learn about our powerful and simple-to-use features here.

We have hundreds of insightful articles on nonprofit tips, donor management, and fundraising on the Donorbox Nonprofit Blog. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a list of our best resources including articles, guides, podcast episodes, webinars, product updates, etc. in your inbox every month.

If you want to learn more about how to use Donorbox donor management and fundraising features to find success with your SWOT analysis, check out the Donorbox YouTube Channel. It’s full of insightful videos, webinars, and demos to help you grow your nonprofit.

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Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.

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