Evaluation of the Environment and SWOT Analysis Tool

When engaging in strategic planning, it is important to remember the process is the product in many ways. While the end goal is to walk away with a document, the most important outcomes are the decisions made with shared understanding and commitment of the internal stakeholders.
The committee is in place to analyze all inputs to make the best decision for the organization moving forward. 
  • The input of the members is invaluable both in terms of raw data as well as building support for the process and engagement in the results.
  • While engaging with stakeholders, it is essential to clarify that while their input is valued, the solicitation of is not a commitment to a specific course of action. 
The most important part of analyzing is finalizing the plan for engaging stakeholders. Remember that the Strategic Planning Committee represents one group of stakeholders, and is usually willing to give more robust input that many of the other subgroups, fully utilize your insights.  The plan you will be implementing is successful when accurate data is collected and compliled. 

Resources using with stakeholders:

SWOT Analysis
Conducting an assessment of factors is referred to as a “SWOT” analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). The SWOT analysis provides a structure for analyzing the internal strengths and weakness of the organization, along with the organization’s external opportunities and threats. The identification and analysis of these four elements is useful in illustrating an organization’s environmental conditions. A SWOT analysis provides a panoramic view of the organization and factors that affect its future.
A SWOT grid is a useful tool when decisions are to be made about changes in organization strategy or direction. A SWOT analysis can also aid discussion when developing new programs or evaluating if the current strategies of the organization are meeting the members’ needs. 
Internal Strengths
Resources or capabilities that help the organization accomplish its mission. Strengths may be competitive advantages or specific skills/expertise.
  • Available resources.
  • Leadership.
  • Financial resources.
  • Volunteer expertise.
  • Feedback from member surveys/focus groups.
Internal Weakness
Deficiencies in resources and capabilities that hinder the organization’s ability to accomplish its mission.
  • Lack of effective communication.
  • Lack of mission or direction.
  • Financial or human resources constraints.
  • Feedback from member surveys/focus groups.
External Opportunities 
Outside factors or situations that can affect the organization in a favorable way. 
  • The demand for nutrition services.
  • Future industry trends or dietetic needs.
  • Expanding and contracting customer segments.

External Threats 
Outside factors or situations that can affect the organization in a negative way.
  • Competing organizations.
  • Value members receive from other organizations.
  • Decreasing customer base.
  • Changing government healthcare regulations.
  • Billing rates.
Once the grid is complete compare the strengths and weakness to the opportunities and threats to identify the strongest connections.
  Opportunities Threats
Strengths INVEST: Clear matches of strengths and opportunities lead to competitive advantage DEFEND: Areas of threat matched by areas of strength indicate a need to mobilize resources either alone or with others
Weaknesses   DECIDE: Areas of opportunity matched by areas of weakness require a judgement call: invest or divest; collaborate DAMAGE CONTROL/DIVEST: Areas of threat matched by areas of weakness indicate need for damage control

Methods for Gathering Information
SWOT analysis information can be gathered either by an outside facilitator/consultant or internally through the strategic planning committee. 
1. Seek individual Member perspective prior to planning meeting
  • Interview via phone or electronically each of the members who will be participating in the meeting
  • Document their perspectives on the organization’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • Develop a list of the responses on a flipchart prior to the meeting
  • Using the strength/weakness/opportunity/threats format, present the information and open for group discussion, allowing difference of opinions to be expressed
  • 2. Seek individual members perspective during the planning meeting
  • At the meeting ask participants to individually document their opinion of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing an organization
  •  Collect opinions from each participant
  • List all participants’ responses on a flipchart by category and discuss the SWOT analysis as a group, refining the analysis during the group discussion Option
3. Obtain group’s perspective during the planning meeting
  • Provide an overview of what a SWOT analysis is and the type of information to be considered under each of the categories (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)
  • Initiate group discussion to review the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
  • Document the responses. Refine the analysis during the discussion
Examples of documents that will help the strategic planning committee analyze the current environment of the organization:
Program Related Documents
  • Mission, Vision, Values Statements
  • Current Strategic Plan
  • Annual Report
  • Program Descriptions
  • Needs Assessments
  • Member Satisfaction Surveys
  • Evaluations and results
 Organizational Capacity Documents
  • Organizational Chart
  • Newsletters/Eblasts/Other Communication
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Bylaws
  • Volunteer Management Plan
  • Previous Strategic Plans
Financial Related Documents
  • Fundraising Plans and Results
  • Budgets
  • Audits
  • Financial Reports
 Leadership Documents
  • Board Background
  • Succession Planning and Leadership Development
  • Board Minutes
  • Board Self-Evaluations
  • Board Orientation/Training Manual

Frequency of Review
A thorough review may be necessary only every three to five years, but current market trends and program evaluations need to be reviewed annually to verify the relevancy of the annual plan.


  • Identify which tools the component will utilize and finalize what the goals are in collecting the data
  • Create necessary surveys, questionnaires, etc. for use in data collection
  • Finalize timeline for approaching stakeholders (each method of contact may have different due date)
  • Identify who will be responsible for collecting each data point
  • Compile data into a useable format