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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.

Website

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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.


4 Insider Reasons Interns are Motivated to Help You

I've already made a couple of big, business decisions in 2018, and one of those was to hire interns. I'd know for a long time that I eventually wanted to bring in some spry, young talent, but a couple of things were holding me back.

First, I didn't feel "successful" enough to bring anyone else into the mix. I still don't know what "successful" enough meant/means to me, but I finally decided it was time to put that thought to bed. I had valuable lessons to teach someone, and it was time to start imparting.

Second, I knew it would take some legitimate time and effort to get things in place and delegate. Most of us feel like we move at the speed of light, and slowing down isn't an option. But, again, I needed to take a step back. The reality is that I needed extra help, and there were people available to assist. And once I got things up and running, the hard part was over. So, in the end, I got over myself and found two, fantastic interns. 

So, here's the first of what I hope will be many blog posts from Megan Westbrook:

4 Insider Reasons Interns are Motivated to Help You

February is rapidly coming to a close (I know, I can’t believe it either) and amidst all of your New Year’s resolutions and scrambling during the busy, first few months of the year, you may have started feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed. You know what might help you? Interns. And who better to talk about interns than an intern?

 

Internships not only benefit interns but also benefit you, a business owner or employee.

I know it may seem daunting at first, and you might feel like you’re only adding more to your plate by having to create an internship program. Yes, it does require some extra work to get a program up and running, find interns, and then get them acclimated. However, once it’s in place, you’re set, and you will continue to reap the benefits of having one or two extra sets of hands.

Interns take some of the weight off of you by helping to alleviate the day-to-day, back-end, or miscellaneous tasks that can take up too much of your time. Interns allow you to focus on the bigger picture and your larger projects, instead of freaking out over a mile-long to-do list. For example, those of you who hate technology, social media, and/or emailing (understandably so) should know that interns are more than likely to be knowledgeable and more interested in doing these kinds of tasks. Score!

Although many businesses are starting to pay interns now, there are still plenty of internships that are unpaid, and that’s totally ok! You can still secure interns without breaking the bank, so all you entrepreneurs with new businesses can breathe easy. I guarantee you that there are people out there who will still be willing to help you, so don’t let that hold you back from seeking them out! This is especially true when they believe in your cause.

Now you may wonder what an intern gets out of all of this. Why would someone be willing to help you and your business, possibly without pay? There are actually several reasons why someone may seek out an internship, and it really is a win-win situation.

The easiest and most common source of motivation is to fulfill a college requirement or credit.

Often times, colleges require students to have an internship during their last semester or last few semesters in order to complete their degree plan. I know it was required for me during my final semester as a journalism and public relations major, and I know it is considered a required credit for many areas of study.

Universities will usually assist in the internship process, either already having established relationships with businesses, or helping students find opportunities. And even if it isn’t required, internships are still highly recommended, as they allow students to apply what they learn in class to real life situations. Which brings me to my next point . . .

 

Internships allow the intern to gain experience in a certain field or explore new areas of interest.

Interning is a great way to find out what you like and what you don’t. If someone is, say, an early childhood education major and starts student teaching at a local school and realizes that they actually don’t have enough patience to deal with 15 elementary-school-aged children at once, they may want to reconsider their career path.

Personally, I got out of college and realized I still had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. So I got a regular 9 to 5 job and decided to explore my interests on the side by getting, you guessed it, internships! There’s so many career options to explore. Sometimes it’s best to shop around a bit before investing in one.

Jobs are not one-size-fits-all. Different people will be better equipped for different things. Internships are the perfect opportunity for people to explore new paths and figure out where they truly want to be and what they want to do. Some know for certain exactly what they want to do, and I’m jealous, but interning is still an amazing opportunity to gain valuable experience for future careers. More experience never hurt anybody, and especially not when it’s benefiting you!

Gaining an internship also allows interns to build and expand on their skill set and resume.

This is real life experience we’re talking about. While still important and valuable, lectures can only teach you so much, and let’s be honest, most college students are probably scrolling through Instagram or falling asleep during their lectures anyway. It’s getting out in the field and really working in it that is going to prepare them for a career and for life in general. You have the ability to provide someone with this experience.

Internships teach various skills, from time management to written and oral communication to maybe even operating Outlook at the most basic level. (I used this all through college and only realized once I got a job that there was a calendar function. How? I do not know.) “The more the merrier” applies well here. More internships means more skills means a merrier recent graduate or just someone trying to discover the right career path.

This is exactly what motivated me. I have a variety of interests, and interning helps me explore them and figure out what I am best at and what I would like to do career-wise. I am learning new skills and fine-tuning the ones I already have, so that I can better serve myself and whatever career I choose.

I’m here writing this because I was given the opportunity to learn more about publishing, promoting blog posts, and how to better use other forms of communication like social media. I am learning how to navigate around new platforms and improving my writing skills, as well as exploring new avenues.

Even better, I can add these new skills and experience to my resume. This is vital in finding and securing a job. You need experience, plain and simple. That, and a bit of luck and a few connections. Speaking of . . . 

 

There are abundant opportunities to network and form connections with different people and business professionals as an intern.

Networking is key. Building successful relationships with people, career related or otherwise, is a beautiful thing. Networking gives interns the chance to pick more brains and connect with professionals who may be able to help them later. All while helping you grow your business.

Being an intern can provide someone with the opportunity to attend more events and/or meetings, which is a great way to meet new people. Socializing, introducing themselves, getting their name out, and making connections is a great way to determine what kind of job they want to move towards. Besides, now you have someone to take to all of your events, and you can instill all of your wise knowledge along the way.

There are various reasons why someone may be motivated to intern, accompanied also by a plethora of mutual benefits. If, as a business owner or leader, you can give someone the opportunity to explore their interests, gain more or new experience, build their skill set, add to their resume, network, and possibly fulfill college credit, all while helping to take some of your workload away, why wouldn’t you?

And if you’re wondering how to go about getting an intern, fear not! Check back in next week and you’ll have all the answers.


Megan Westbrook

Megan Westbrook holds a B.A. in journalism with a focus in public relations and a minor in Spanish from Georgia State University. An aspiring writer, her interests reside in blogging, social media, content creation, design, and photography. She is also a passionate social justice advocate and interested in nonprofit or cause-focused work. Megan is currently a receptionist at Servcorp in Atlanta, Georgia. 



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Internships not only benefit interns but also benefit you, a business owner or employee.

Kristi Porter, Founder of Signify

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.


How to Woo Your Fans and Supporters

It’s the final week of our “business resolutions series,” and I hope you’re already making big progress on your goals this year! Before we dive into today’s topic, let’s recap, shall we? First, we talked about seven simple tools that build a strong small business foundation. Then, we talked about how to gain authority and trust at your organization through internal communication. To wrap up, we’ll discuss wooing your fans and supporters—and those who could be—through external communication.

You have to actually talk to the people who support you, right? Yes, of course, you do. However, too many small businesses that I speak with know that they should communicate with their customers and donors, but they don’t actually do it.

Marketing and communications usually gets shoved to the back burner, often because it’s just not prioritized. But to retain current fans and attract new ones, you’ve got to reach out. And to begin, you don’t need to be perfect, but you do need to get started.

So, while there are undoubtedly lots of ways to communicate with your customers, donors, and the people who could be, I’ll just highlight three areas that I think you should focus on for maximum impact.

How to Woo Your Fans and Supporters

Email Should Be Your Top Priority

Email, email, email. I can’t stress this enough. For talking to your previous and current customers and donors, this needs to be your top priority. Unless you’re sitting down over coffee with these lovely people, there’s no better way to communicate with your fans.

Don’t believe me? Think social media should be your numero uno? Did someone tell you email is dead? Consider two arguments.

First, how many companies, either for- or non-profit, do you readily give your email to? And how many more do you follow on social media? Yep, there’s no comparison. We’re all getting more and more stingy with our emails, so when someone willingly hands over their email, you should treat it as precious. You have a direct line to their hearts and minds.

Second, think about it this way: you own your email list. With social media, we’re all at the mercy of the ever-changing algorithms. The majority of our posts are filtered out, meaning only a fraction of the people that follow you see what you post. And even if you do get the hang of it, the algorithm will change again in a few months. Plus, we all know that some platforms are here today, but gone tomorrow. MySpace anyone? However, for better or worse, email has been our constant companion the last few decades.

As a marketer, this is frustrating, but as a human, I have to remember the “social” aspect of social media.

So, now that you’re thinking email might be a good idea, here are two ways to handle it:

  1. If you don’t already have an opt-in on your website, you need to think about adding one. An opt-in is simply something you give your list in exchange for their email. Examples include e-courses, lists, e-books, insider access, coupons, and more. This tactic will help you build your list, drawing in potential customers and donors.

  2. I’d like you to email your list at least once a month, and be consistent. We’re all creatures of the out of sight, out of mind variety, so you need to remind people that you’re still here and open for business. You may want to email them more frequently, which is sometimes recommended, but it sort of depends on your organization and other factors. Most people, though, send emails every couple of months, and only when they need something. Yuck! This is not the way to treat those precious emails and the people they represent. So, aim for monthly communication.

Social Media is Important, But Not Everything

People online are currently freaking out over the new Facebook changes that were recently announced, stating that content by companies will be less visible in news feeds. And, I agree, it’s a little scary. I also just dinged social media in the section above. But, no matter how you feel about social media (I have mixed feelings myself), it’s still important and necessary.

So, while I think you should focus on your email list, that won’t always help you reach those who don’t yet know about you. And you probably don’t want to email those who already love you every day and get a bunch of unsubscribes. Enter social media. It’s still an effective way to get your name out and keep it out there, but we’ll all have to try a little harder. But who has the time? This is why I switched to a social media scheduler.

While it’s true that posts sent by schedulers get less play than real-time, “native” posts (typed straight into the platform), for me, it was a matter of what would actually happen. I could have great intentions about getting on social media every day with new content, but the reality is that may not happen. I have too many other things to do, and so do you. This is why I went with a social media scheduling tool, and you can read all the details, as well as my review of 13 popular platforms, right here.

Definitely jump on social media and post in real time, interact with people, share pictures, and generally live it up when you can. But for those times you can’t, consider a scheduling tool. I’m glad to know that if my head is down, and I’m working on a writing project for a few days, my social media posts are still going out the door without me having to press any buttons. I’d rather have a few people seeing my posts than none at all.

Another social media option to consider is Facebook groups. There are millions of them out there, for everything under the sun. My suggestion would be to find a few that contain your target audience, and get active. Be helpful, make connections, and follow their rules for self-promotion. They definitely take time, but are a great and personalized way to build new relationships.

By the way, my friend Jennifer, who is a social media manager, will be talking all about these new Facebook changes, how to stay in front of your audience, and alternatives worth pursuing in my Facebook Group tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. EST. Join us!

Networking and Events Never Go Out of Style

We’ve covered a couple of online options, but you already know there’s no replacement for good, old fashioned face-to-face connection. So, it’s time to get outside your office and shake a few hands. This is still a terrific way to meet potential customers and donors, or even make deeper connections with those who already know and love you. (Bonus: It's also a great way to invest in yourself!)

For us introverts, this may or may not be a welcome suggestion. Me? I love being at home, but I also love attending events. But if you’re the kind of guy or gal who would rather have an email exchange than coffee with someone, then I’m sorry, you’re just going to have to push yourself for the good of your organization. #sorrynotsorry

You may choose to be an exhibitor, an attendee, or even a speaker, and all can be effective. You’ll likely need a combination over time. Obviously, you’ll get the most attention from a larger audience by speaking, but exhibiting and attending can allow you to have more meaningful and personal conversations.

But before you show up, I suggest doing a little event prep work:

  1. Follow the event’s social media or hashtag to start making connections ahead of time.

  2. Make sure your social profiles and website are updated.

  3. Don’t forget to bring business cards or handouts about your org.

(You can read more about each of these items here.)

The important thing is to make the most of the event. Of course, you’re probably showing up to learn, but if you can snag a few more fans, even better! Oh, and in case you’re looking for some cool, cause-focused events to attend, check out this list by Cause Artist.

 

Read the other posts in this series:



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Marketing and communications usually gets shoved to the backburner, often because it’s just not prioritized. But to retain current fans and attract new ones, you’ve got to reach out. And to begin, you don’t need to be perfect, but you do need to get started.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

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.


Why Free Help Isn't Always the Best Option

Whether you are just getting your organization off the ground, are in a growth phase, or are trucking along at a good pace, today's topic has probably hit your radar at some point. So far this month, I've covered the lessons I learned from my first year in business, 10 tools to make your small business look more professional, and my favorite tip to get people to spread the word about you. But now, I want to address how you should approach a situation in which you're asked for, or offered, free help.

No matter from what perspective you're reading this post, as a "do good" organization, you likely have a love-hate relationship with free help. You're either at a nonprofit or purpose-driven, for-profit who has taken advantage of long- or short-term volunteers, or you've been asked to do something for free for which you'd normally charge. 

And you likely have both good and bad experiences. I know I do.

Here's why free help isn't always the best option for nonprofits and social enterprises.

Volunteers and interns can either be the best thing that ever happened to you, or the worst. Nonprofits often heavily rely on volunteers to keep the doors open. And social enterprises, especially just starting out, may be in the same position. Sometimes these people are even called interns, and become more of the process. You, like me, may also know fully-functioning businesses that are solely run by volunteers. Any of these can be a great strategy. But, it just depends on who these people are, and how hard they're willing to work. Regardless, a system should be put into place to account for any "bad eggs" that do come along. In these situations, people rarely have bad intentions. They may, however, have a bad work ethic. Or the scope of the position may change, or it was never adequately explained. There can easily be fault on both sides.

On the flip side, there may be times when you or your organization is asked to do something for free. It could be offering your service at an event, like providing free coffee at a conference. Or it might be giving away your product, such as samples in a goodie bag. As before, neither is a bad option. In fact, they could lead to other revenue sources or exposure you might not receive otherwise. But every opportunity should be carefully thought out. I don't think there is a blanket response. Value is measured in more ways than one.

In today's post, I shared with the folks over at Horkey Handbook all about the pros and cons of either being approached by someone who offers their help for free, or how to handle being asked to do something for free. 

READ THE FULL POST HERE.

 



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There are both values and costs when it comes to volunteers and interns. Social enterprises and nonprofits must weigh the pros and cons when either offered free help, or asked to provide their service or product for 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.