Houston Area Women’s Center (SWOT Analysis Example)

SWOT Analysis

The problem of the strategic analysis of charity organizations has become especially relevant in the contemporary conditions characterized by expansion of market relations. Nowadays, the state is unable to fulfill all of its obligations to full extent, meaning that the society needs the volunteers that would deal with social issues solely out of good will. However, such entities have certain peculiarities that define their set of strengths and weaknesses, as well as the threats and opportunities presented to them by the environment. The following paper focuses on the SWOT analysis of the fundraising profile of the Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC).

SWOT Analysis Summary

The HAWC is a nonprofit organization that focuses on combating domestic and sexual violence in the Houston area. The activities of the center include the implementation of the education programs, maintenance of a hotline, and the provision of shelter to the victims. The organization is financed with the money obtained as a result of the measures taken by its fundraising profile, the results of the SWOT analysis of which are presented below (Table 1).

Table 1

SWOT Analysis of the Fundraising Profile of the HAWC

Strengths

The use of volunteers
High motivation of workers
Close contact with the clientele
High flexibility

Weaknesses

High dependence on the external factors
Low financial stability
Unprofessionalism of the volunteers
Low level of the work organization
Insufficient public relations program

Opportunities

Economic growth in the country
Technological progress
Cooperation with the government

Threats

Passivity of the population
Preservation of social problems
Lack of interest from the media

Strengths

The use of volunteers

Today, volunteering is one of the most common activities in the world that includes a number of traditional forms of civic participation, which are carried out voluntarily for the benefit of the general public without the expectation of monetary reward. In terms of fundraising, the volunteers primarily provide the HAWC with the additional knowledge, experience, and most importantly, connections with the individuals and entities that can act as potential donors to the organization. Moreover, their work contributes to the improvement of the HAWC’s image, which increases the attractiveness of the center for the investors and donors.

High motivation of workers

The staff of the HAWC voluntarily spends its time and energy to ensure the efficient work of the center, and uses its formal and informal relationships with a great number of individuals and entities for the benefit of the organization. Considering the fact that many of the volunteers involved in the work of the HAWC have been victims of domestic or sexual violence, it is of no surprise that their motivation is exceptionally high. As a result, such workers are interested in the final results of their labor. They are capable of generating original ideas for solving the acute economic problems of the center, namely the ones regarding fundraising in the contemporary conditions.

High flexibility

As a non-profit organization, the HAWC has a relative freedom in the choice of social groups to work with. In particular, its activities are oriented on women who have suffered from domestic and sexual violence. At the same time, these terms can be interpreted quite broadly. For example, domestic violence alone may involve physical, psychological (e.g. verbal aggression), sexual, and economic (i.e. someone’s intentional deprivation of property) modalities. As a result, its scope of work is rather wide, which in turn increases the amount of potential donors of the center.

Close contact with the clientele

Most of the services provided by the HAWC are provided on the basis of direct interaction with clients (counseling, hotline, provision of shelter, etc.). In turn, the increased attention to people and their problems ensures the improvement of the organization’s image. As a result, it also increases the number of potential donors, both the individuals (e.g. the former victims, their relatives, and friends) and the socially responsible organizations, thus contributing to the success of the fundraising program of the HAWC.

Weaknesses

High dependence on the external factors. The fundraising conducted by the HAWC focuses on the attraction of the financial resources from the third parties, i.e. the ones not connected with the activities of the center. Moreover, it is of an operational nature meaning that the obtained funds are used not for the implementation of a specific project but rather to support the current activities of the organization as a whole. As a result, in case of financial crisis or any other urgent problem, some part of the financial resources received by the HAWC (e.g. the funds of the individual contributors) is likely to not reach the center. Considering that fundraising efforts provide about 46% of its budget, it is possible to assume that in the worst-case scenario, the majority of the existing programs (e.g. education and provision of shelter to the victims) will be compromised.

Low financial stability

The activities and programs of the HAWC are primarily financed through the aid of the government, investors, and donors. However, none of these sources of funding can be considered stable. For example, the governmental grants are usually awarded in the form of contest based on the applications from many non-profit organizations. As a result, there is no guarantee that the HAWC will continue receiving them in the future. The investors may lose interest in the center in case of financial crisis or due to the changes in their corporate culture and values (e.g. after the merger or acquisition of a company). Finally, the individual donors may cease funding for the same reasons.

Lack of professionalism among the volunteers

The HAWC has almost no restrictions when it comes to enlisting people ready to provide the voluntary aid, with their age being the only factor considered. As a result, it is possible to assume that the skills of the majority of them are far from being sufficient, especially in terms of fundraising. Given the fact that this activity is partially within the competence of the volunteers, it is clear that the lack of the specific skills will not only reduce the number of the potential donors but also jeopardize the relationships with the existing ones.

Low level of the work organization

As was mentioned before, the staff of the HAWC, namely the volunteers, is highly motivated. However, such zeal makes it difficult to organize the work with them. The volunteers are so committed to their job that they expect instant solutions for any arising problems, not understanding the reasons why the system works at a slow pace. In turn, they often become impatient and get engaged in conflicts with other employees or volunteers that are not making enough efforts to reach the organization’s goals. As a result, the relationship between the workers may become uncomfortable, resulting in the lack of cohesion between them. Naturally, such situation does not contribute to the preparation and implementation of the efficient fundraising campaigns and activities.

Insufficient public relations program

The HAWC primarily relies on its personal website (About Us and Media Room sections) and volunteers to increase the awareness of the society about its activities and, therefore, attract new donors. At the same time, for the charity organization located in one of the largest metropolitan areas of the United States, such scope of public activity is rather narrow. In particular, it is possible to assume that there are no specific programs aimed at the center’s engagement with the public and especially the media. As a result, the number of people knowing about the HAWC’s activities is relatively low, which does not contribute to the success of its fundraising campaign.

Opportunities

The trend of economic growth in the country

Its effects are manifested in the improvement of the living standards of the population, the growth of per capita income, and the reduction on the income differentiation. A more equitable distribution of finances represents a significant psychological boost that contributes to the participation of a broad public in the life of the society. As a result, people become more willing to spend their money on charity. The economic growth also finds expression in the increase in their free time, resulting in the potential inflow of the volunteers. Therefore, these manifestations are likely to have a positive impact on the efficiency of the fundraising campaign conducted by the HAWC, provided that the organization will make efforts to attract the potential donors.

The technological progress

The emergence of the new means of communication and payment has made charity easily accessible for the common people (i.e. the primary targets of the fundraising campaigns). As a result, with each passing year, the Internet users and bloggers become increasingly willing to participate in such programs. Even the recent economic crisis has not had a significant impact on the frequency and amount of donations. All this information provides evidence of the fact that the society is ready to become a donor for such organizations as the HAWC. At the same time, in such conditions, these entities are often opposed by the individual volunteers who believe that the charity cannot be given into the hands of funds. According to their ideas, funds make money on someone else’s grief since the collected money is partially used for the maintenance of their activities. As a result, it is imperative to unite the efforts of such volunteers and fundraising by the HAWC.

Cooperation with the government

The governmental grants are among the most important financial resources for the HAWC, accounting for 41.2% of its total budget. This figure allows making the assumptions regarding the high efficiency of the center’s work, as well as the sufficient level of its financial responsibility. In turn, the HAWC may expect to receive funding from the government in the future, which will allow mitigating the negative effects of other factors of the external environment.

Threats

Passivity of the population

Despite the positive manifestations of the economic growth described above, the majority of people remain socially passive. The problem lies in the fact that every social group strives to be stable and thus tries to avoid radical changes. Charity can be perceived as such change, especially for a person who has never been involved in it before. In turn, there is a high chance that people will not turn their attention to the activities of the HWAC until they become victims of violence themselves, i.e. the radical change will occur in their lives.

The preservation of social problems

Despite the fact that the activities conducted by the HAWC are aimed at combating domestic and sexual violence, such events are still observed on a regular basis. In other words, the measures taken by the HAWC are not oriented towards the root of the problem but rather deal with its consequences. In turn, this fact may undermine the image of the center in the eyes of its donors, thus lowering the efficiency of its fundraising efforts. As a result, some of its programs may be compromised, which will lead to further decrease in the volume of donations.

The lack of interest from the media

Nowadays, the society faces a huge flow of information from various sources on a daily basis, including the companies and organizations. Given the fact that the corporate website is the main source of information about the activities of the HAWC, with them not being covered in the media, it is unlikely that it will reach the occasional user. As a result, the amount of potential donors of the center is significantly decreased.

Gift Profile

The annual budget of the HAWC is around $ 7 million, with its gift profile consisting of the four components. The first and the most significant of them are the funds obtained by the fundraising activities of the center. This is followed by the grants provided by the government, the money from the United Way (the non-profit organization providing aid in terms of fundraising), and the donations from investors and other sources. The structure of the gift profile of the center is presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The gift profile of the HAWC

In general, it is possible to say that fundraising programs and government grants ensure the survivability of the center. Thus, in order to continue its seamless work, the HAWC must continue developing its fundraising programs, namely by forcing the media to increase the coverage of the population of the Houston area. The amount of applications for the grants must also be increased, given the fact that they account for almost a half of all the donations. At the same time, the organization should focus on increasing its attractiveness for the investors, namely the ones working for large companies. In turn, the share of investments in the gift profile of the HAWC will increase, ensuring a more balanced and, therefore, stable structure.

Conclusion

It is possible to say that most of the weaknesses of the HAWC originate from its strengths and its very nature as a non-profit organization. In turn, it is possible to recommend increasing the entry barriers for the volunteers to define the most skilled people that will contribute to the fundraising activity of the center or, at least, will not worsen the current situation. Moreover, it is imperative to develop the relationships with the media to ensure that the information about the HAWC’s activities reaches the target audience. The structure of the gift profile of the center should also be revised, with at least three components having a significant share in it.

These measures will allow mitigating the negative effects of the threats from its external environment, such as the passivity of the population, and the excessive amount of information from other companies. Moreover, it will allow utilizing the opportunities described above (the effects of the economic growth, the cooperation with the government, and the technological progress) due to the increase in the quality and efficiency of the center’s services. In turn, its attractiveness for the individual donors, the governmental structures, and possibly the socially responsible enterprises will increase.