I know what you might be thinking – “Not ANOTHER assessment!?!”
Well, I am here to tell you that this one is quick, painless, and beneficial. Earlier this month we discussed why it is important to have a communications matrix and this post is focused on conducting some assessments to help you determine your strategy for communications.
The SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Assessment is the tool of the trade in most nonprofit organizations. Often times we use this assessment amongst our staff and board members at retreats, while planning a new program, and basically any other opportunity we get; however, this assessment is often focused internally on an organization’s capacity to be high performing.
In the world of marketing, a PESTLE Analysis can be conducted to determine the external landscape that an organization is operating within and how well its messages will be received.
PESTLE stands for Political, Economics, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental. Identify various external factors that can affect your work and your messaging is very important when working in various diverse communities. When working through this you will notice that some issues cross various boundaries, which is completely fine since some social factors can be influenced by environmental and economic factors (e.g. Flint water crisis).
Below is a brief explanation of each factor, along with a nonprofit related example.
Political – Political factors are those issues that may be affecting or influencing your organization based on what is happening at the local, state, and federal level. Political issues often become legal issues if a law is made a period of time is based. Political issues are often policy and legislation that could affect your organizations work, and when it is passed into law it moves down to legal; however, in some cases it can still be political if it is a supercharged issue. Recent political activities that could be affecting the work of an organization working on college access might be DACA.
Economic – The economy influences our behavior and there is a whole body of literature out there that explains how we react to the economy. An economic factor affecting most nonprofit organizations is the ability to attract and retain talent. For example, some of our clients in Northeast Indiana are having trouble hiring staff members to work at their organizations since the factories have recovered after the recession and are now hiring at a much higher wage than many nonprofits in the region can afford. While this is a great sign that the economy is improving overall, nonprofits are now being forced to pay an equitable wage – which definitely isn’t a bad thing, but is something that is affecting how organizations operate and communicate within various contexts.
Social – This one is pretty self-explanatory for most reading this since you interact with social issues on a daily basis. Social factors can include items such as whether or not a group is support of your organization and its activities. For example, people protesting an issue indicates that there might be something you need to consider as part of your overall communications strategy.
Technological – These factors affect how technology is influencing the way you are delivering or communicating with individuals. An apparent one is social media and other communications platforms. The challenge with the evolution of various social media platforms is that your organization may need to be on various platforms in order to reach your intended audiences.
Legal – Legal factors are those laws and policy changes that might be affecting your organizations work or ability to deliver services. Medicare and Medicare billing is constantly changing, and recently one of our clients was faced with an issue that changed the way their clients received services. Instead of coming to them directly for services, they had to start going through a third-party service coordinating company in order to request services. Therefore, current clients that are already happy with their services with the organization now how to go through another step in an effort to hopefully be referred to the organization they are already receiving high quality services from currently. Yeah… that happened.
Environmental – We have noticed that this is often a hard category for organizations to consider; however, there are many things that might be affecting how the environment impacts your constituents and your programming. For example, access to parks and other green spaces might be a challenge if you are health organization. In addition, access to public transportation can be a major issue as well since we have noticed that transportation is often a major hurdle that organizations have to overcome for their programming.
Now it’s your turn to consider what factor might be affecting your organization’s work. Download the free PESTLE planning sheet below to write out what you need to consider as your implement your programs and communications strategy.