goal setting

The Most Useful Tool for Prioritizing Your Goals

Today’s inspiration comes from one of our newest interns here at Signify, Kirsten King. When she approached me about writing a blog post on this topic, I thought it was a terrific idea. I’m a big fan of not only setting goals, but regularly evaluating them.

And one of the biggest hurdles in goal-setting isn’t identifying them, but prioritizing them. After all, you only have so much time, energy, and resources at your disposal. So, you definitely want to ensure that your nonprofit or social enterprise is focused on the right targets.

The exercise Kirsten outlines below is an oldie, but a goodie. It’s also relatively simple. But the beauty is that it will give you a big picture look at your organization, and help you decide which direction to run in. Give it a try, and see your goals come to life.

The Most Useful Tool for Prioritizing Your Goals

Happy (belated) New Year!

So, you’ve established some business goals for this year, and you’re all set to tackle them. You will complete your 2019 To Do List, but it may seem a bit overwhelming right now. Often, you may be wondering where to start, how to prioritize, or where you fit in amongst your competitors and even your donors or customers. If this sounds familiar, then you may need to create or restructure your SWOT analysis.

Creating a current SWOT analysis can help pinpoint what your organization lacks, as well as what it offers. Without this assessment, you may quickly fall behind or feel left out. This could happen if you don’t know what trends are up-and-coming, what other organizations in your field are doing, the growth opportunities that are available, or you may be unable to predict what challenges are yet to come. However, knowing each of these items can give you a distinctive edge, and guide you toward both short- and long-term success.

SWOT Analysis… What’s that?

Now, if you’re wondering, “What’s a SWOT analysis?!”, don’t worry, we’ll jump right into that.  

First, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This is a genius marketing strategy—even if you’re new to marketing—because it identifies a nonprofit or social enterprises’s internal strengths and weaknesses, while also looking into the opportunities and threats that are occurring outside of the organization. (These factors you have no control over, but you may be able to use them to your advantage 😉. )

Why is a SWOT Analysis Important?

Performing a SWOT analysis can help you determine what new strategies should be implemented and what problems need to be resolved. You don’t want to waste time developing and planning a new strategy, if it doesn’t fit with the current or upcoming trends.

Having this information gives you a better understanding of what needs to be prioritized and where you stand when compared to others like you. Here’s a great video, using Starbucks as an example, if you would like to see a SWOT analysis in action.

Since business, trends, marketing, technology, and even the way you interact with your donors or customers are constantly changing, a SWOT analysis should be performed at least once or twice a year to ensure you are on the right track, or outline any changes that should be made. These can be performed solo, or with a team, board members, or key stakeholders.

Completing Your SWOT Analysis

Okay, let’s build your SWOT analysis! We’ve even created a free template to help you out.

One thing you’ll notice immediately is the simplicity of the layout. Once you dig into the items below, you may be tempted to include a lot of details and notes. But, at its heart, a SWOT analysis is just meant to give you a quick overview. Think of it as your organization at a glance, and use it to help guide you in the right direction.

Strengths are determined by the positive assets that your social impact organization owns. They may be tangible or intangible resources. Since you have control over these assets, strengths can help your organization stand out.

Strengths include:

  • Unique mission or model

  • Land

  • Location

  • Equipment

  • Copyrights/trademarks

  • Employees/volunteers

  • Funding

  • Marketing

  • Customer service

  • Relationships

Weaknesses can be defined as the characteristics of your organization that are unfavorable or may hurt you in some way. These downfalls could potentially hinder your success in both the short- and long-term. Weaknesses may be easily improved with a little more time, effort, and sometimes money.

Weaknesses include:

  • Outdated technology

  • Slow or poor communication (internal and/or external)

  • Poor signage

  • Little to no online presence

  • Unreliable cash flow

  • Lack of systems and processes

  • Cost

  • Low reputation

  • Small team with big workload

  • Low innovation

Opportunities are the external factors that can help your nonprofit or social enterprise thrive. Options here may be one-time or ongoing opportunities, so it’s especially important to note anything with fixed deadlines or limited availability that need to stay top of mind.

Opportunities include:

  • Partnerships and sponsorships

  • Participating in a current or upcoming trend (or event)

  • Government programs

  • Niche target market

  • Increased interest in your cause

  • New technologies

  • Growing population

  • Few competitors

  • New systems or processes

  • High demand

Threats are external factors that you cannot control. These negatives require quick thinking to develop new strategies.

Threats include:

  • Changes in government policies or funding

  • Uncertain economic factors

  • Aggressive competition

  • Unexpected weather

  • Rising costs

  • Increase in competition

  • Change in population

  • Negative media coverage

  • Loss of large donor, partner, or sponsor

  • Taxation

Time to Strategize!

You can start your SWOT analysis by focusing on internal strengths and weaknesses. This should be easier since you know the ins and outs of your organization.

Afterward, you can focus on external factors like your opportunities and threats. This may call for a bit of research and contemplation. But once your SWOT analysis is complete, you should have a better idea on what strategies to prioritize, implement, or refresh.

If done correctly, you’ll be able to use this analysis to create fresh, new ideas for your nonprofit or social enterprise. And remember, the assessment can always be adjusted to meet the current trends and challenges you may face.

Now, with all of this new information, how will you structure your business goals for the year ahead? Have you determined your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats yet? If not, it’s time to brainstorm new strategies that will help you develop or maintain that sustainable advantage!

Kirsten M King Marketing

Hi! I’m Kirsten M. King, and I absolutely love anything dealing with marketing, from advertising to data and everything in-between. I also love to learn and expand my knowledge on current trends and issues.

I’m currently a senior Marketing Major at Georgia State University. And I hope to take my skills and use them towards a career in project management.




Having this information gives you a better understanding of what needs to be prioritized and where you stand when compared to others like you.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.

Ask the Experts: Resolutions and Goal Setting

Each month, I invite guest contributors to speak about timely, relevant, and sought-after topics that are important for cause-focused organizations like yours to be aware of as you grow. For January, I've invited Robert Carnes to talk about resolutions and goal setting. There's no better time for a fresh start than the New Year!

Ask the Experts: Resolutions and Goal-Setting

People have been setting New Year’s resolutions probably as long as there have been new years. Nearly as frequent as the resolutions is giving up on said resolutions. There’s something intoxicating about a fresh start that makes people unrealistic about their own expectations, but even with the best of intentions, they typically don’t last.

Most people just give up making resolutions altogether—and frankly, that’s better than kidding yourself every 365 days. However, there are better ways to launch yourself into the New Year and actually accomplish something in 2018.

Let's talk about how you can realistically set and accomplish your goals this year.


Q. What are the latest trends in annual goal setting?

A. The most popular New Year’s Resolutions in 2017 were essentially the same as they’ve always been—eat healthier, exercise more, get organized, spend less, and travel. Basically, people are always going to seek the same things to improve their lives.

One trend I’ve heard about recently is setting smaller, shorter-term goals. Rather than trying to set a resolution for the entire year, make one for each quarter that stands alone, or adds up to a larger goal. Three months is a more manageable scale for most people compared to 12 months.

This also allows you to reevaluate your goals every quarter, rather than annually. Continually monitoring your progress helps you to be more flexible and accountable. Start small and win big.

Q. What is the biggest mistake you see people making with New Year’s resolutions?

A. Unrealistic expectations. New Year’s couldn’t come at a worse time. Every year, it’s scheduled right after New Year’s Eve—a night everyone intentionally stays up late and indulges. No one wants to get up early and work hard on January 1—so you’re already off to a bad start.

Instead of a sweeping gesture to make ourselves feel better in the moment, it’s much better to set goals we can actually follow through on. So, set a less ambitious goal that you can expand on later. These are practices you can turn into habits, rather than burning out by February.

In his book Finish, Jon Acuff recommends cutting your goal in half. So, if you want to write 30 blog posts this year, set your expectation at writing 15 posts. Because writing 18 posts by the end of the year is better than getting overwhelmed, giving up early, and not writing any at all.


Q. What is your best piece of advice?

A. Make your goal something you actually want to accomplish. Are you setting goals out of guilt or peer-pressure? If so, odds are that you won’t actually achieve them. Internal, positive motivation is much more powerful than guilt.

But even goals you enjoy can lose their flavor over time. So inject some fun into the mix to prevent burnout. Celebrate small victories. Reward yourself for hitting benchmarks. Involve other people to keep you accountable and motivated.

Remind yourself why you’re pursuing this goal in the first place. If it’s something you enjoy and truly desire, that should help keep your attention focused all year long.

Q. What is one thing readers can do this week to improve?

A. Pick one small thing to accomplish towards your goal. Instead of trying to run a marathon, start with the first mile. Instead of writing a book, write a blog post. Often, people fail to meet their goals because they get overwhelmed and can’t see any progress.

Giving yourself smaller, attainable steps builds momentum towards a larger achievement. It’s also much easier to know what you’ll be able to finish this week, rather than by the end of the year. Don’t worry about staying perfect—focus on finishing what you can do today.


Q. Anything else we should keep in mind?

A. The most important thing is consistency. A small habit maintained over time can lead to big things. Goals come and go, but habits stick around.

The key to making a difference in your life is creating sustainable practices that have a positive cumulative effect. Do good work that will allow you to do even more good work in the long term.

And one of the best ways to keep a good thing going is not quitting when it’s no longer perfect. If you miss writing a blog post or scheduling your social media next week, don’t give up entirely. Give yourself a pass and prepare to get back on track. You’re never going to be perfect—focus instead on being better.


6. Do you have any resources that would be helpful so people can learn more?

  • Jon Acuff has become an expert on achieving goals. His 30 Days of Hustle online course was one of the reasons I was able to publish my first book last year.

  • Another great resource from Jon Acuff is his new book I mentioned earlier, Finish. It’s all about ignoring perfectionism and getting real work done.

  • Jeff Goins has also got a lot of practical advice and encouragement, especially for writers. His new book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, is all about making a living from work you actually enjoy.

  • If you want an example of the extreme, check out Month to Master—one man’s journey to master one new thing every month for a year. Not recommended for everyone, but definitely entertaining.

And here are a few more resources from KP:

Wishing you a joyous and prosperous New Year!

Robert Carnes

Robert Carnes is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. Carnes also works as a managing editor at Orange in Atlanta.


Let's talk about how you can realistically set and accomplish your goals this year.

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.

The Impact of Planning a Personal Retreat

Continuing along last week's self-care theme of work/life balance being a myth, I wanted to point you to a guest post I wrote recently for the Yellow Conference on "The Impact of Planning a Personal Retreat." Now that we're entering the second quarter of 2017, I know I find myself needing to reevaluate my goals for the year, as well as the work I've done so far.

I thought, a retreat wasn’t something "regular" people didbut there I found myself.

Depending on the seasons in which your organization operates, you may even already be approaching burnout. Don't let it happen! Please take an opportunity to get away and reflect on the first quarter's progress, your role, and your plans for the next eight months.

Retreats differ from vacations because they have a purpose other than "relaxing." When I plan a retreat, I usually have a couple of large goals in mind that need to be accomplished outside of my normal environment.

And retreats, whether taken by yourself or as a team, can be invaluable for gaining clarity and perspective. 

I believe those who lead cause-focused organizations can easily reach burnout or become bogged down by the mission because of the nature of the work. True, this can happen to anyone, anywhere, but when your nonprofit or business exists to solve a social problem, the work feels more urgent. And often, you know the faces of those in need. Therefore, it's difficult to take a step back, no matter how necessary it may seem.

However, it's often when you bravely set aside the time for yourself, you can actually recharge and come back to the immediate pressures more equipped and able to tackle the tasks at hand. That is something you won't regret.

Learn more about my experience with a personal retreat, as well as a few tips for planning your own:


And, funny enough, I wrote along the same theme for a different color. Here are some more tips on how to make retreats a priority as well as how to actually fit them into your schedule in this guest post for Orange Leaders.


Or, if you prefer to watch a video with tips and advice, check out this Facebook Live from me:



I thought, a retreat wasn’t something "regular" people did—but there I found myself.

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.