Every self-respecting workshop has its share of hacks. Today’s post is about the NEO Shop Talk’s SWOT hack.
Most of our readers have heard of SWOT analysis, because of its widespread use in strategic planning. NEO developed its own special version of SWOT analysis to help our readers and training participants with preparation of funding proposals. Our version of SWOT analysis is one of a number of methods on the NEO’s new resource page for proposal planning featured in last week’s post.
“SWOT” stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Businesses use SWOT analysis to examine their organizations’ internal strengths and weaknesses, and to identify external opportunities and threats that may impact future success. Strategic plans are then designed to exploit the positive factors and manage the negative factors identified in the analysis.
SWOT analysis can be a great proposal-planning tool. After all, funding proposal are essentially strategic plans. The analysis will prepare you to write a plan that describes the following:
Funding proposal do differ in one key way from organizational strategic plans: they are persuasive in nature. Your proposal must argue convincingly that an initiative is needed. It must also demonstrate your organization’s readiness to address that need. To make your arguments credible, you will need data, and you get that data from a community assessment. (I use the word “community” for any group that you want to serve through your project.) The NEO has tweaked the SWOT analysis process so that it can serve as the first step in the community assessment process.
Every SWOT analysis uses a chart. We altered the traditional SWOT chart a bit, adding a third column. In that column, you can record questions that arise during your SWOT discussion to be explored in your community assessment. Our chart looks like this:
Here are the basic steps we suggest for facilitating a SWOT discussion:
Once you have collected your data, your core project team can revisit the SWOT chart. Your community assessment findings should fit neatly into the four SWOT squares and, hopefully, you will have far fewer “unknowns.” Some of your community assessment findings will help you build your rationale for your project. Other information will help you refine your project strategies, which you will work out using another great planning tool from our proposal-planning page: the logic model. For a group project-planning process, check out the NEO post on tearless logic models.