How to Use Your Card Deck

How to Use Your Card Deck2021-02-13T00:15:57-05:00

Suggested Exercises Using the Card Deck

  • Start with Your Objectives. Pick three Objectives first, then customize with Audience or Message cards and build from there.

  • Start with Strategies. Pick one or two Strategies first, then customize with Audience or Message cards and build from there.

  • Start with Current Tactics: For what Objectives do these tactics make sense? Are those the right objectives for your mission?

  • Where is Comms Most Essential? In other words, where would your nonprofit’s mission fail without a communications strategy to make results happen?  Build your plan there first.

  • Limit the Cards in Your Hand. If you could only use 5 what would they be? 7? 10?

  • Scale Up and Down. Lay out the cards representing your current workload. Given current or planned resources, how would you do more or less?

  • Randomizer. Pick a random selection of cards and talk about how they could work together (helps educate people about terms and think more creatively)

  • Mind Map It. Connect the cards with pipe cleaners or string or tape them on a white board and draw the connections to make it feel more like a mind map.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which cards are most popular with nonprofits?2021-02-13T00:06:52-05:00

Based on research from our Nonprofit Communications Trends Reports, the most popular nonprofit communications goals are:

  • Engaging our community
  • Brand building and reputation management
  • Raising awareness of our issues
  • Supporting fundraising from small-medium donors
  • Supporting event fundraising
  • Supporting major donor fundraising

The most popular strategies are:

  • Permission-based marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Event and experience marketing
  • Relationship marketing

The most popular objectives are:

  • Financial gains or savings (e.g., fundraising results)
  • Participation levels (e.g., numbers registering or taking action)
  • Expression of loyalty (e.g., donor retention or long-term engagement)
  • Change in knowledge or understanding about your issues
  • People joining, subscribing, or following (e.g., list growth)

The most popular tactics are websites, email, social media, media relations/PR, in-person events, and direct mail.

You can review all of the Trends Reports with a free account at if you’d like additional details on the research behind these lists.

Do I do this exercise for every program or for the nonprofit as a whole?2021-02-13T00:06:44-05:00

You can use the cards for campaign planning exercises for specific programs. But ultimately, you will need to merge all of those together into one cohesive strategy for both your strategic plan and your editorial calendar.

What’s the difference between content marketing and permission-based marketing?2021-02-13T00:07:09-05:00

These two strategies are often used together but are not the same thing.

You can send advertising content or appeals to your opt-in email lists. That’s permission-based marketing, but not necessarily content they find especially relevant and meaningful themselves. Sending it is more in your self-interest, even though you have permission to do so.

You can also use content marketing without an opt-in mailing list. For example, when you add great content your website, people can find it and read it without being opted-in to any mailing list.

The sweet spot is when these two strategies work together. You send great content that keeps people on your lists, which allows you to also send them advertising or appeals.



What’s the difference between ambassador/influencer marketing, peer-to-peer marketing, and word of mouth marketing?2021-02-13T00:07:20-05:00

Peer-to-peer marketing is more organized and actively managed than word of mouth marketing. It also involves many more people than ambassador/influencer marketing.

Peer-to-peer fundraising gets a lot of coverage in our sector, but fundraising isn’t always the goal. Get Out the Vote operations by political campaigns are a good example of peer-to-peer marketing.

Is there an online version of the card deck?2021-02-13T00:06:26-05:00

Yes! We’ve recreated the card deck in MuralAll-Access Pass holders have access to the Mural template with the complete card deck, as well as several other Mural templates. You’ll find them in the Pass Holder Library.

Need to Purchase a Nonprofit Communications
Strategic Planning Card Deck?

In the U.S., you can purchase from Amazon and save on shipping if you have Prime.

In the U.S. and Canada, you can also order directly from us at Nonprofit Marketing Guide and we’ll ship Priority Mail.

Shipping elsewhere? Contact us with your shipping address and we’ll provide a shipping estimate and invoice.