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 Two Most Significant Investments I Made This Year

The last couple of weeks we've been talking about end-of-year budgeting, looking ahead to 2018, and some wise places to consider spending some of that hard-earned cash. Those decisions aren't easy, but sometimes they totally pay off.

First, we compared social media scheduling tools. It's only been a couple of weeks, but I'm already seeing a good ROI from Smarterqueue! Then, last week, we talked about the pros and cons of co-working spaces for those of us in nontraditional office environments. It's a hot topic in my corner of the world, and may be in yours as well.

This week, as we wrap up this series, and November, I wanted to discuss the two most significant investments I've made in my business this year. They may just surprise you, especially considering one of them is free!

Here are the two most significant investments I've made in my business this year. They may just surprise you, especially considering one of them is free!

Getting Accountability

If asked in a job interview—yes, I would describe myself as a self-starter. I've always been a pretty determined person, full of hopes, goals, and dreams, and the initiative to pursue them. So, working from home as a solopreneur was not a problem. I've had friends who said they'd get distracted easily or never get anything done, and yes, that does occasionally happen. But, for the most part, I'm good at checking things off my list. (And I love checking things off my list!)

However, I think there are times when a little accountability can benefit us all. It's certainly worked for successful programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Weight Watchers, and many others. Even the most motivated of us need a little extra skin in the game from time-to-time.

So, this summer, the opportunity to have an "accountabilabuddy" presented itself, and I jumped at it!

Jen Gordon and I met through a mutual friend, and hit it off immediately over breakfast. A few minutes into our conversation, she told me that she'd read my website and wanted to hire me for her launch. However, after talking about her skills and knowledge, I knew I could benefit from her expertise as well. So, I proposed that we meet twice a month for three months to exchange insights that would help us both build our businesses.

That three months is still going strong six months later! It has been the absolute, best, hands-down decision I made in my business this year. We are each flying solo, so we act as sounding boards for each other, share what we're learning, offer suggestions, and hold each other accountable for deadlines both big and small. 

It's very unstructured for the most part, but we each leave with our action steps that we'll be responsible for at our next meeting. And we check in with each other throughout the month as needed.

This summer I did a two-part series about "working ON your business, rather than IN your business" because it's just so darn easy to get "admined" to death by all the little things that need to happen. So, it can be really difficult to maintain vision for large goals and initiatives at your organization. Having Jen around helps me get the small things done, while staying focused on the big picture—and she's there to ask me about both.

I would highly encourage you to find someone that you can develop this relationship with. Much like a mentor, these people don't often fall from the sky. But they are certainly worth the search!

Even if you're at a larger nonprofit or social enterprise, I still think having an accountability partner could be really beneficial. If you lead a team, you can still use peer-to-peer feedback. And it's good to have someone that will let you vent and be yourself, which you may not get when you lead a team, or an organization. Plus, an outside perspective is always helpful, because we often don't see our work as clearly as someone from the outside. 

If I could give you any advice as you start thinking about the New Year, I would tell you to find an accountability partner. Think about it, and someone may come to mind. Or ask around to friends, family, or even in Facebook Groups. And be patient if it takes some time. You'll get so much out of this relationship, and it will be worth the time and effort it may take to find him or her!


Getting Help

Despite my best efforts, I just can't do it all. I don't have the time, skills, or experience needed to accomplish every task on my plate. And, while helpful, endless hours of research on Google may not be the best use of my time. So, once-in-a-while, I have to ask for help. (And I have a really hard time asking for help.)

Over the past year, that's mostly been in hiring others to do some of the things that I'm less capable of doing or don't have time for. Yes, there may absolutely be times when you can get someone to help you for free, like a volunteer or intern, or even by bartering, which is also essentially what Jen Gordon and I do in our accountability partnership.

However, sometimes you just have to suck it up and pay someone. Yes, those decisions are harder for some of us than others, but I don't think they should ever be off-limits. Why? Because hiring someone, even in a short-term capacity, can:

  • free up your time,

  • potentially create something better than you could've created on your own,

  • expand your network,

  • increase your knowledge,

  • provide that much-needed outside perspective,

  • and let you focus on the things that need your personal attention.

Those bullets are part of the speech I give to my clients, but I occasionally have to give it to myself as well. :)

The two, big areas that I've paid for additional help this year are in graphics and managing my social media accounts. Mad+Dusty beautifully executed my branding and design, and on several occasions, I've also hired them to help out with smaller projects. One of the cooler things they've done for me is create templates in Canva that I can use again and again. (Ex: social media and testimonials) That way, the "short-term" project has some staying power, and allows me to build on what they've done professionally. So, consider an option like that when you need some graphics help. Have your designers create some templates, or at least some simple designs you can mimic when you don't have the ability to hire them for every little project that comes along.

And hiring someone to manage my social media just wasn't on my radar six months ago because it was something I already knew how to do. I'd never call myself a social media expert, but I feel pretty comfortable with it, and even give advice to clients about the subject. 

But the truth was that it just took too much of my time. And we all know that time is money! I needed to do more writing, finding clients, and taking care of tasks that genuinely required my attention. Social media just didn't fit the bill. So, this month, I've been in a 30-day experiment to see what my friend Jen Wilder could do with my channels. (I know a lot of talented Jens. :) Additionally, I've had her set up my social media scheduling tool, Smarterqueue. Again, something I knew I could do, but my time was better spent elsewhere. And it's been another great investment!


Your Turn

I can honestly say that these two items were the best investments I've made this year for Signify. They're allowing me to grow and scale, and setting the stage for a better 2018. I would also recommend the same types of investments for you.

Find someone that can hold you accountable, and return the favor. And hire out some of the tasks that need to come off your plate for whatever reason. 

And did you catch the other take-away? Both of these were experiments. We all feel a lot more comfortable taking risks when they have an end date. With Jen Gordon, we were only testing the waters for three months. We reassessed, and both agreed that we wanted to continue.

With Jen Wilder, it's been so fantastic learning from her, seeing her in action, and having her set up SmarterQueue. Right now, I just don't have the cash to pay her as an ongoing contractor, but you'd better believe I'll have some more experiments for her in the future!

What's your action step? Or what were your best investments this year? I'd love to hear!


There are two significant investments I made in my small business this year. They may just surprise you, especially considering one of them is free!

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.

Spring Clean Your Marketing and Communications

We're just over a week into both spring and the Daylight Savings time change. I don't know about you, but more sunshine equals more productivity for me. Though I am the pale, freckled, poster child for skin cancer, I always feel a little bit like Superman in that my powers are directly tied to the sun. I tend to find renewed energy and deeper concentration when winter days give way to spring ones. 

And I love a good spring cleaning! Is that weird? I just can't focus amongst clutter. I need a neat and tidy workspace, car and home to function well. So, this past week, I began the process of ship-shaping those three areas. 

Be better prepared, focused, and productive for the remainder of the year.

Today, I want to help guide you what spring cleaning your marketing and communications might look like. And maybe dust off those New Year's Resolutions (or goals) too. It's time for a fresh start!


While it's true that there are a unique few who can thrive in chaos and actually know what is located in the heaps and piles on or around their desk, I don't think that's true for the majority of us. I think most of us get stressed out and distracted by those things, and it compromises our brain power, and therefore our work, by not dealing with it. 

ACTION STEP: Over the next week, take the time to do some thorough sorting, sifting, recycling, tossing and sharing. Yes, I know you don't have time. But you need to sacrifice a few hours for the clarity it will bring you after its done. Whether you have a small desk in your guest room, a corner of the dining room table, or the corner office in the high rise, your productivity will increase by eliminating these distractions.


While it's true that I don't like physical clutter, I am a serial saver—at least as far as online articles are concerned anyway. I've mentioned before on this blog that I love learning. And it takes no more than a few minutes on social media, reading through emails, or scanning messages in Facebook groups to have a dozen or so windows opened with things I want to read or go back to later. I'm also bad about downloading resources to my desktop and saving them there with the intention of going back "soon" to read them. Pretty soon my computer desktop is a mess, my email is overflowing, and I can't shut down my computer for days at a time because I need to keep all the tabs open. Anyone relate?

ACTION STEP: Decide how important things things are to you and make a plan to tackle them this week. I did this last Friday. I was sick and didn't have a lot of brain power for creating and problem-solving, so I focused on this project. It took a few hours, but my computer desktop is clean, my email is manageable, and I shut down my computer over the weekend. It's a great feeling! And guess what, I learned a few new things in the process!

If you just don't have the time, or know the piles will only get larger, then give yourself a break and start deleting, knowing that new information will soon come your way. If you do decide to sort it out, then start getting excited about the new information you're about to digest. Grab some coffee, an easy chair, your laptop, and enjoy the process. I found some new resources to share with my Facebook group, learned a few tricks from fellow entrepreneurs and watched two webinars for upcoming personal projects. I also did a fair amount of deleting. Whichever path you take, deleting or sorting, find the determination to just do it.


This is admittedly the hardest. The previous two categories require cleaning out "stuff" which I think is a lot easier, or at least it is for me. You can also see the changes much faster. Now we are moving onto the real work. Remember I mentioned those pesky New Year's Resolutions/Goals in the beginning? Here's where we tackle those.

I am a very goal-driven, task-oriented person. And with this being my first full year in business, I had a lot of things I wanted to do. One of those was developing my first online course during the first quarter of 2017. Now if you mosey on over to that section on my website, you'll still find "Coming Soon!" as we head into quarter two. That is just one example, but I assure you, there are others. Now, I did hit one goal, which was to attend more human trafficking events this year. I've actually already made it to two. But for every goal I hit, there is at least one I didn't. Know the feeling?

It's easy to get stuck in the headspace that tells you that you're behind, failing, or never gonna make it happen. But I'm asking you not to. I have to ask this of myself regularly. And because you're working for a cause, it's hard not to feel the pressure of things left undone. Everything is important. But these are the times we have to stop, reflect and reevaluate.

ACTION STEP: I'm going to give you two weeks for this assignment because it's more difficult, though, actually, it may take the least physical amount of time. In fact, if you get down to business, you might be able to do this homework in about an hour. But I think you need to walk around with the question in your mind, letting it occupy the back of your brain, for a few days or even a week.

Then sit down and reevaluate your marketing and communication priorities for 2017. What were your goals back in January? How do they need to shift? Maybe timelines need to be extended. Maybe projects need to be put on hold. Maybe they need to move to 2018. Maybe they just need to be scrapped. That's all okay.

First, determine your big priorities for the year. It's quite possible they've changed in the past three months. Then, assess the resolutions or goals you made and figure out which bucket they should fit in. Finally, feel good knowing that you've made some progress. After all, reevaluation is still progress. It's going to help you move forward for the next nine months.


Okay, so you've cleaned your physical space, your digital space and your mental space—or you will very soon. It should feel amazing! It should give you clarity. It should bring a big smile to your face. You've just done some really powerful things.

By tackling these three categories, you've just set yourself up for success in your marketing and communications for the rest of the year. You'll be better prepared, focused and productive. 

We all get so hyped up come January. We're ready to take on the world! But life happens, work happens and we quickly realize that we didn't have a lot of control anyway. It's easy to get discouraged. That's why this spring cleaning is essential.

A New Year takes a little getting used to. I mean, hello, is anyone else still writing 2016 on everything?!?! So, when you take the time to stop, reflect and reevaluate your current efforts, you can make the shifts necessary to lift the fog, get out of the funk, and tackle that To Do list.

Oh, and once you've done your homework, don't think you're off the hook! The next step is to set a date on your calendar three months from now. The year will be half over, and it'll be time for a good summer cleaning!

Have you done anything else to spring clean your marketing and communications? If so, please tell me!

Need some help with your reevaluation? Contact me for a Communications Strategy Session. I'd love to get you on, or back on, the right track.


Be better prepared, focused, and productive for the remainder of the 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.