Answer the following questions to help you pinpoint your organization's internal strengths and weaknesses. Then determine ways to turn each weakness into a strength.
- What are the skills of your volunteer and paid staff members? Are staff members committed, knowledgeable, energetic? Or are they overworked, discouraged, spread too thin? Can you think of ways you can change weaknesses to strengths? For example, including staff members in this self-assessment exercise is a good way to turn discouragement into a renewed sense of excitement about the organization's possibilities.
- What are your board members' skills? Are board members active and dedicated? Are they well connected in the community? Do they make friends for your organization wherever they go?
- What is each staff and board member's attitude toward fundraising? If most are eager fundraisers, give yourself extra points for this major strength!
- What resources do you have earmarked especially for fundraising? How much staff time is set aside specifically for development efforts? What is your budget for training paid and volunteer staff in fundraising? Do you have any money to hire a fundraising consultant? If your answer to these questions is no, plan to develop these resources.
- What assistance is available to you from other organizations? For example, do you have a national or umbrella office that may have fundraising resources available? Do you have good relations with other nonprofit organizations in your community or in your field of interest? If they have fundraising expertise and resources, will they share these with you? Perhaps you have something you could offer them in return.
- Do you have up-to-date information systems, including mailing lists, donor databases, and recordkeeping procedures? Is your technology state of the art?
- Do you have a strategic plan for your organization? Does it include fundraising? If you do have a plan in place, use it as your starting point as you begin the fundraising process. If you don't, plan a board-staff retreat to develop one.
- Is your organization financially strong? Rate Your Organization's Financial Health to be sure.
- Do you use total quality management (TQM) teams? Such teams are the best way to get all employees working for the organization's goals and striving for constant improvement.
- Do you love what you do? Are you totally committed to your organization's mission and vision? You set the tone for your organization. Your energy will fuel everyone else's. Your passion is your best fundraising tool.
- List other strengths and weaknesses of your organization and ideas for turning weaknesses into strengths. Hold a brainstorming session with key staff and board members to get their suggestions, too.
WHAT YOU HAVE ACCOMPLISHED:
You now have a clear picture of your organization's strengths - important information to share with potential donors. You also know your organization's weaknesses and have a plan for turning each weakness into a strength.