Food for Thought

by Abigail Solazzo

This spring, staff and members of our Chapter Leadership Team (CLT) met with several chapters across the country. The purpose of these visits was to provide leadership training and support for the chapters’ challenges or areas of concern. Before staff or the CLT member arrived on-site, chapter board members completed a SWOT analysis. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis helps a chapter to better understand the current status of the chapter from each board member’s perspective. This also presents an opportunity for the board to look at areas that need improvement, as well as the areas they are succeeding in. Chapters should consider conducting their own SWOT analysis every one to two years. Below are some pointers when conducting your SWOT analysis.

  • Use a facilitator - When conducting a SWOT analysis, it is best to use a facilitator. Chapters should consider asking a veteran member or another trusted member that is not currently a board member.
  • Be honest – It is important through this process to be candid and honest about your chapter’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Take the time to brainstorm and include any and all characteristics. You can always edit the list later and focus on the top priorities.
  • Everyone has a voice – You may not agree with each other’s ideas, but they should still be included in the overall analysis and discussed or addressed in a professional matter. (This is why having a facilitator is key.)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions – No chapter is perfect, and each has areas that can use improvement. Before we can tackle those areas, recognize what they are and understand how they can be turned into an opportunity for growth and future success.
  • Focus on the most critical areas – If you find there are areas that are noticeably less successful than others, make those the priority for the chapter.
  • Have a plan – It is important to walk away from the training with an action plan in place. Use the TOWS tool to apply your strengths and opportunities and your weaknesses and threats.
  • Follow-up – Be sure to include in your action plan a timeline and when the board will check on their progress.

Both the SWOT Analysis Guide and the TOWS tool are available to download from ANFPConnect, Volunteer Resources, Board Governance.