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Overcoming Challenges and Pursuing New Opportunities for Success

In 2020, the world was faced with new challenges most organizations never imagined. As we move into a new year, many organizations may be wondering how to position themselves so that this year is better than the last. More specifically, many may ask how their organization can be better prepared to overcome challenges and pursue new opportunities for growth within their planned giving programs.

Where do you start?

To get started, you will first want to explore your organization’s unique characteristics, both positive and negative. Identifying your organization’s characteristics may sound a little daunting at first, especially if you have not explored these traits before. The good news is that there is a really simple exercise you can do to help you come up with a list.

A SWOT Analysis is a list of your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The goal of this analysis is to help your organization be prepared to overcome challenges that may arise from the weaknesses you have identified, while leveraging your strengths to achieve new opportunities to grow your planned giving program. This analysis should act as a guideline to review when making strategic planning decisions.

How to conduct a SWOT Analysis

To help you get started, use the following guideline to complete your analysis. This would be a great team exercise, so feel free to get others involved in this brainstorming activity!


In this section, you will want to ask the question “What is my organization good at?” This is a question that looks internally at your organization to figure out the areas in which you really excel in. The ultimate goal of this section is to use your strengths to identify new opportunities for growth.


1. Budget – Large marketing budget

2. Robust team – Educated gift planners, talented marketing team dedicated to planned giving, team of in-house of attorneys

3. Donors – Strong understanding of donor demographic, strong leads, loyal donor base

4. Brand recognition and mission – Well known organization with a clear mission


In this section, you will want to explore your shortcomings by asking “What is my organization not good at?” Continue to look internally at your organization to identify your struggles. You need to have an understanding of your organization’s weaknesses to figure out how to overcome any factors that might hinder the success of your program.


1. Lack of internal support for planned giving program

2. Limited resources – Limited time to focus on planned giving, small budget, small team

3. Marketing - No clear marketing strategy, limited knowledge about how to market planned gifts, limited collateral (i.e., images, donor stories, donor emails, etc.)

4. Staff transitions

Opportunities –

Now that you are done looking internally at your organization’s strengths and weaknesses, it is time to look externally. You will want to ask yourself, “Where do I see areas for growth and new possibilities for my organization?” Drawing from the strengths you have listed in the previous section can help identify new opportunities.


1. Spend more time implementing a strong multichannel marketing strategy (including web, print, social media, etc.)

2. Grow donor pipeline and improve on communications strategies with donors

3. Develop a legacy society for loyal donors

4. Create a clear and obtainable marketing plan

Threats -

Last but certainly not least, you will want to focus on any potential threats your organization may face both in the short and long term. Ask yourself, “What could potentially harm my organization or prevent my organization from being successful?” Similar to the opportunities section, you will want to look externally for these threats. It is helpful to look back to your weaknesses when thinking about any potential threats that may arise from those weaknesses.


1. Competitors – Similar organization with same donor population

2. Economy – Changing tax laws, uncertain economic climate

3. Budget challenges

Where do you go from here?

Now that you have completed your SWOT analysis, it is time to get work! You now have a great outline to help you improve your marketing by putting your strengths into action to ultimately achieve the new opportunities you have identified. You should also now be more prepared to handle any challenges that may come your way this year. Make sure to look back at your SWOT analysis from time to time as you are making decisions about how to grow your planned giving program. This would be a great exercise to complete once a year as your analysis can change over time.

Congratulations, you are now on your way to achieving success in 2021! Please reach out to Crescendo if we can be of help.

Sara Martinez

By Sara Martinez
Senior Integrated Marketing Coordinator, Crescendo Interactive, Inc.

Cindy mahan says:
February 17, 2021 3:37 PM PT

Thank you this helps to tie the movements down!

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