SWOTS: Taking an Environmental Scan of Your
Community Engagement Program
What is it?
A planning process guide, usable by department and/or the overall organization.
Why should I use it?
- To improve communications among the various organizations, groups and individuals with whom you interact. This includes audiences and the constituencies you serve.
- To keep people informed about what is being done and why.
- To use a common methodology that can be shared, blended and contrasted within your organization.
- To use as a planning and evaluation tool on an annual basis.
The Environmental Scan consists of an objective and subjective analysis of the current state of your community engagement program (and overall organization) and its projected future.
- The objective analysis: involves a review of such things as resources (funding, staffing, hardware and software), current projects and activities and objective data such as ratings, awards, constituent letters and phone calls.
- The subjective analysis: involves a review of your internal Strengths and Weaknesses as well as its external Opportunities and Threats (SWOTs). This departmental analysis should involve all internal and external stakeholders. Stakeholders include the individuals, groups and organizations your organization serves.
What the heck is a SWOT?
|Strengths:||What makes your community engagement/outreach program strong?|
|Weaknesses:||What weaknesses exist in your community engagement/outreach program and/or organization? What makes it hard to do your best?|
|Opportunities:||What external factors have created opportunities for your program? (Digital conversion is a good example.)|
|Threats:||What external factors threaten your success? Bear in mind that often, items can be both an opportunity and a threat.|
Friends don’t let friends SWOT alone
Creating your SWOTs list can be a great group exercise. It allows the department to share feedback, listen to peers and craft a united effort. Find a coffee shop or a comfortable living room, throw out colorful markers, and start throwing out your ideas. Separate your SWOTS into two different documents — one for your department and one for your entire organization. Some SWOTs will be in both documents.
Appreciating, changing and improving your environment
The SWOTs are really just the beginning of the process, but they should feed the rest of the environmental scan. Combined with institutional data, the SWOTs form the basis for creating a long-term strategic plan, annual goals, short-range objectives, action plans, staff work plans and budgets. An annual SWOTs session will also allow you to evaluate the last year’s progress and change.