Nonprofit SWOT Analysis: Effective Decision Making [The Ultimate Guide]

Ryan Jones • Jan 30, 2021

In the nonprofit sector, there is a finite number of donors and a limited amount of money destined for organizations.

So, how can you lead the pack and attract more donors?

You work on effective branding, messaging, programs, staffing, and essential things a nonprofit organization needs to make positive change. And then you’re done, right? Not so fast. A nonprofit SWOT analysis can help you become the organization that figures out how to strategically reach and manage its donors

It’s time to take an honest look at your organization to see what’s working and what could be better. It’s time for a SWOT analysis.

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What is a SWOT Analysis?

Whether you’re an established organization or just starting out, understanding the components and benefits of a SWOT analysis can be a game-changer for your mission-driven initiatives.

So, what exactly is a SWOT analysis? SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It is a structured framework that allows nonprofits to assess their internal capabilities and external environment in order to identify strategic insights and make informed decisions.

Let’s break down the components of a SWOT analysis:


These are the internal factors that give your nonprofit an advantage over others. They represent your unique resources, expertise, and qualities that set you apart. Strengths could include a dedicated team, a strong volunteer base, established partnerships, brand reputation, or innovative programs. Identifying your organization’s strengths provides a foundation for leveraging your organization’s advantages.


These are the internal factors that put your nonprofit at a disadvantage or hinder your progress. They can be areas where you lack resources, expertise, or face challenges. Weaknesses could involve limited funding, inadequate technology infrastructure, a small team, or a lack of community awareness. Recognizing your weaknesses is crucial as it allows you to develop strategies to address them effectively.


These are external factors or situations that could positively impact your nonprofit’s growth and success. Opportunities could arise from emerging trends, community needs, policy changes, or potential collaborations. By identifying and capitalizing on opportunities, nonprofits can expand their reach, attract new supporters, or explore innovative approaches to fulfill their mission.


These are external factors or challenges that could hinder your nonprofit’s progress or pose risks to its sustainability. Threats might include changes in government regulations, economic downturns, increased competition, changes to social media platforms, or shifts in donor preferences. Recognizing and monitoring threats is essential for developing contingency plans and mitigating risks effectively.

Why Your Nonprofit Needs a SWOT Analysis

Let’s explore the benefits and advantages of conducting a SWOT analysis for nonprofit organizations.

Identifying Internal Strengths and Weaknesses:

A SWOT analysis provides a comprehensive evaluation of your nonprofit’s internal factors. It helps you identify your strengths, such as skilled staff, dedicated volunteers, a strong network of supporters, or a unique program or service. Recognizing these strengths enables you to leverage them effectively, showcasing what sets your organization apart from others.

On the other hand, a SWOT analysis also sheds light on your nonprofit’s weaknesses. It may reveal areas where you lack resources, expertise, or proper systems and processes. By acknowledging these weaknesses, you can develop strategies to overcome them and allocate resources more efficiently. Strengthening internal weaknesses ultimately leads to improved organizational performance and effectiveness.

Exploring External Opportunities:

Nonprofit organizations operate in a dynamic external environment filled with opportunities waiting to be seized. A SWOT analysis helps you identify these opportunities, such as emerging trends, potential collaborations, or funding sources. By understanding the external landscape, you can proactively position your nonprofit to capitalize on these opportunities, expanding your reach, impact, and sustainability.

Recognizing External Threats:

Alongside opportunities, nonprofits face external threats that can hinder their progress and mission. These threats can include changes in regulations, funding cuts, competition, or societal shifts. Through a SWOT analysis, you can identify these threats, allowing you to develop contingency plans, mitigate risks, and safeguard your organization’s stability and continuity.

Informing Strategic Planning, Decision-Making, and Goal Setting:

A SWOT analysis serves as a foundation for informed strategic planning, decision-making, and goal setting. By understanding your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you can align your strategies with your mission and maximize your impact. The insights gained from a nonprofit SWOT analysis help you prioritize actions, allocate resources effectively, and seize opportunities while managing risks. It empowers you to make data-driven decisions that will move your nonprofit forward, ensuring its long-term success.

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How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis

Internal Analysis:

The first step in conducting a SWOT analysis is to examine your organization’s internal factors. This involves identifying strengths and weaknesses within your nonprofit. Here are some key aspects to consider during the internal analysis:

  1. Identifying Strengths: Take a close look at your organization’s resources, capabilities, nonprofit marketing strategy, and unique qualities that set you apart from others in the nonprofit sector. Consider aspects such as dedicated staff, strong volunteer base, established partnerships, innovative programs, or exceptional fundraising strategies.
  2. Analyzing Weaknesses: Identity areas where your organization may be lacking or facing challenges. This could include limited funding, outdated technology, insufficient staff capacity, or ineffective communication channels. Recognizing weaknesses helps you focus on areas for improvement and future growth.

External Analysis:

The second part of the SWOT analysis involves assessing the external environment in which your nonprofit operates. This step helps you identify opportunities that align with your mission and potential threats or challenges you may encounter. Consider the following:

  1. Identifying Opportunities:

Look for emerging trends, partnerships, funding opportunities, or new markets that align with your nonprofit’s goals. Assessing opportunities allows you to leverage your strengths to maximize impact and sustainability.

  1. Assessing Threats:

Be aware of potential threats and challenges that may hinder your organization’s progress. This could include changes in government policies, economic downturns, increased competition, or shifting donor preferences. Understanding threats helps you develop strategies to mitigate risks and ensure long-term success.

To conduct a comprehensive SWOT analysis, nonprofits can utilize various tools and templates that simplify the process. Here are some recommendations:

  1. Traditional SWOT Analysis Templates:

Traditional templates featuring a four-quadrant layout (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) are widely used. These templates provide a clear structure for organizing your analysis and visually represent the key findings.

  1. Digital SWOT Analysis Tools:

Digital tools or software specifically designed for SWOT analysis offer several advantages. They provide a user-friendly interface, automate data entry and analysis, enable collaboration among team members, and offer real-time updates. Such tools streamline the entire process, saving time and increasing efficiency.

  1. Keela: Streamlining the SWOT Analysis Process:

Keela, a comprehensive nonprofit management software, offers built-in nonprofit SWOT analysis templates and features designed to simplify and streamline the analysis process. Here’s why Keela stands out:

  • Pre-built SWOT Analysis Templates: Keela provides pre-built SWOT analysis templates that align with the specific needs of nonprofits. These templates help you kick-start your analysis, ensuring you cover all the necessary elements.
  • Centralized Data Management: With Keela, you can gather and store data related to your SWOT analysis in one centralized location. This makes it easy to access and update your analysis whenever needed, ensuring everyone is working with the latest information.

Kick-Start Your SWOT Analysis Process with Keela

Learn how Keela’s nonprofit management software can help streamline your next SWOT analysis through templates and centralized data management.

Tips for Creating an Effective SWOT Analysis

Let’s explore eight tips that will enhance the quality and effectiveness of your SWOT analysis.

1. Focusing on specificity and clarity in identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats:

When conducting a SWOT analysis, it’s essential to be specific and clear in identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats relevant to your organization. Avoid generalizations and instead focus on concrete examples and evidence. This level of specificity will enable you to develop targeted strategies and actions.

2. Prioritizing the most critical issues and opportunities:

Not all strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are created equal. It’s crucial to prioritize and rank them based on their significance and potential impact on your organization. This step ensures that your resources and efforts are directed towards addressing the most critical issues and capitalizing on the most promising opportunities.

3. Involving key stakeholders and team members in the analysis process:

A SWOT analysis should not be a one-person endeavor. Involve key stakeholders and team members from various departments or areas of expertise. Their unique insights and perspectives will enrich the analysis and provide a more comprehensive understanding of your organization’s internal and external factors.

4. conducting a thorough analysis of competitors and similar organizations:

To gain a competitive edge, it’s vital to conduct a thorough analysis of your competitors and similar organizations. Identify their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats they face. This information will help you identify potential gaps and areas where you can differentiate yourself or learn from their successes and challenges.

5. Considering both short-term and long-term implications of the analysis:

While a SWOT analysis can provide immediate insights and actions, it’s important to consider its long-term implications. Evaluate how the identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats may evolve over time and how they align with your organization’s vision and goals. This forward-thinking approach will help you develop strategies that are sustainable and adaptable.

6. Developing actionable strategies based on the SWOT analysis findings:

A SWOT analysis is only valuable if it leads to actionable strategies. Translate the findings of your analysis into specific goals, objectives, and tactics. Each strategy should address a particular strength, weakness, opportunity, or threat and outline the steps required to achieve the desired outcomes.

7. Action Planning:

Emphasize the importance of using the SWOT analysis findings to develop an actionable plan. Encourage your team to take ownership of the strategies and actions derived from the analysis. Clearly define roles, responsibilities, and timelines to ensure accountability and progress. By involving everyone, you’ll foster a sense of collective commitment and increase the chances of successful implementation.

8. Monitoring and Evaluation:

Highlight the significance of continuously monitoring and evaluating the progress and impact of the strategies developed from the SWOT analysis. Regular check-ins and feedback loops are essential to ensure that the implemented actions are yielding the expected results. Adjustments and refinements can be made as needed to stay aligned with the evolving dynamics of your organization and its environment.

Leveraging SWOT Analysis for Fundraising and Grant Applications

Incorporating SWOT Analysis Findings into Grant Applications:

Organizational Awareness:

Grantmakers look for nonprofits that demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of their internal and external environments. By incorporating nonprofit SWOT analysis findings into grant applications, nonprofits can showcase their organizational awareness and strategic planning. Clearly articulating strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats allows grantmakers to see that the organization has thoroughly evaluated its landscape and has a well-defined roadmap for success.

Strategic Alignment:

Grantmakers are interested in funding organizations that align with their own objectives and priorities. By leveraging the insights from the SWOT analysis, nonprofits can align their grant applications with the specific interests of funders. For instance, if a grant focuses on capacity building, a nonprofit can highlight its identified strengths and strategies to build upon them, demonstrating a well-aligned approach to the grantmaker’s goals.

Keela’s Support in Fundraising Strategy Alignment:

Keela’s donor management and fundraising features can be instrumental in aligning a nonprofit’s fundraising strategies with the findings of their SWOT analysis. Here’s how:

Comprehensive Donor Management:

Keela provides nonprofits with a centralized platform to manage donor information, track donations, and analyze donor engagement. By leveraging Keela’s donor management features, organizations can identify trends, preferences, and giving patterns of their donors. This information can be used to align fundraising strategies with the identified opportunities and tailor campaigns to resonate with donor interests.

Targeted Campaigns and Communications:

With Keela, nonprofits can segment their donor base and create targeted campaigns based on the insights derived from the SWOT analysis. By tailoring their messages and appeals to specific donor groups, organizations can effectively address weaknesses and capitalize on their strengths. Keela’s communication tools enable personalized outreach, allowing nonprofits to convey their strategic planning and commitment to their donors.


It is crucial for nonprofit organizations to recognize and prioritize the regular conduct of SWOT analyses. These analyses provide valuable insights into their internal strengths, weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats. By understanding these factors, nonprofits can make informed decisions, improve their performance, and ultimately raise more funds.

By utilizing Keela’s all-in-one donor management software, nonprofits can conduct these analyses effectively and seamlessly integrate the findings into their planning processes. Embracing this approach will empower nonprofits to thrive and create positive change in their respective fields.