The Lab; Portnoy Media Group Blog

Last Call!



10 Days ago we announced the first course in Non-Profit Story Training Series. This first class will be at a discounted rate of $247. (Regular price will be close to $500). Several organizations have signed up – from small to large in annual fundraising. All seeking to tell a great story, engage their audience and change the world.

In the Non-Profit Story System you’ll find:

  • How the Narrative Story Framework applies to your non-profit.
  • How to acquire and cultivate an audience while telling a compelling story.
  • Strategy to determine Your Best Audiences
  • The Top 3 Storytelling Principals
  • The Step-by-Step guide to Audit and Assess Your Social Media Presence – Turn the Social “Me” to a Social “We”.
  • How to Execute Your “Why” in Your Communications – The “Why” is the most important piece and will inspire your audience to action and support.
  • Ideas to help your team know what needs to be adjusted to transform your current site into a cultivation and acquisition tool.
  • How to Create a System to Measure Success (Key Performance Indicators)
  • The guide to determine your primary and secondary audiences and define the Ideal Behavior for them – Defining what you need will help staff and audiences know what they’re being asked to do.

Here’s what you need to do to secure your discounted spot:

  • Enter the coupon code PREORDER to get the discounted price (case sensitive)


Introductory pricing will end this week. Don’t miss out, enroll in the class today!




Portnoy Media Group uses the influence of social networks to expand your organization's voice and tell your story. We connect people with your mission and enable your brand to be shared, discovered, and connected. Work with us as we empower your organization to dramatically extend your online presence and increase donations.

13 Choices To Inspire You With a Great Story

Christmas Holidays are great. Seeing family and rehashing old stories and catching up but sometimes it’s a lot. Make sure you make time to connect with family and loved ones this year but after the food coma kicks in and naps are prevalent and the puzzling ends – take a break and experience something new together.



I’ve been watching a lot from the PBS/BBC partnership of late. I don’t have anything against American TV or the producers but British television tends to leave out the hype. Instead theses shows are full of surprises because the conventions for these shows are different. Most of these shows will be found on Masterpiece Mystery! (Set your DVR’s) I’m also partial to my local KOCE-TV for all the awesomeness!

Here’s a few options for some great storytelling on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video




File Under: Unexpected Brilliance

Recommended If You Like: Elementary, my Dear Watson; The Usual Suspects; Firefly; Ripper Street.

If you haven’t watched this incredible take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters then this is a great time to start. I’ve written about it before here. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are excellent! Plus, the new season starts just after the first of the year!



File Under: Brooding becomes him

Recommended If You Like: Tough Guys, Complicated ladies.

Idris Elba’s title character is put through the wringer. A little bit of swagger and a serial killer character you won’t soon forget.



The Fall

File Under: The Ex-Files

Recommended If You Like: Silence of the Lambs, Insomnia

A dark crime thriller that definitely for adults. Set in Belfast, the series stars Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson, a senior police officer investigating a string of murders. Not sure if this actually aired on TV in the states.




File Under: Robing room

Recommended If You Like: Atticus Finch, Boston Legal, LA Law

An interesting and captivating look at the world of the British legal system. It’s like Law & Order with wigs minus the “doink doink”.


Bletchley Circle

File Under: Puzzlers

Recommended If You Like: Smart Ladies, Post War Intrigue, Tweed

A female dominated cast that shines brilliantly. Equal parts intrigue and code breaking. I’ve talked about this show before here. Notice the lack of floral prints on any of the ladies, it’s all geometric patterns.



File Under: Classic Branagh

Recommended If You Like: Swedish Meatballs and Architecture, Catch Me If You Can, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Kenneth Branagh is a Swedish detective, chasing bad guys and dealing with emotional issues. Plus a pre-Loki Tom Hiddleston.



Inspector Lewis

File Under: Leathal Weapon goes to the U.K. minus the saxophone

Recommended If You Like: Downton Mysteries,

Buddy cop drama set in Oxford. Classic meets new, young meets old – it’s all in there. Great characters and good drama.


Additional Adventures to Take

A smattering from the rest of my viewing pleasure. Great characters, far away lands, imagination and whimsy!



File Under: Wally Pfisters and Tarsem Singh’s Love Child

Recommended If You Like: Thomas Harris, Thomas Harris and Thomas Harris

I can’t say enough about this show. The art direction, the cinematography plus a killer cast lead by Mads Mikkelsen


Almost Human

File Under: 

Recommended If You Like: The next big thing, Terminators gone good,

Sci-fi shows are a tough nut to crack but this show has been great for the first 6 episodes. Since the completion of Fringe, there really hasn’t been a great sic-fi show. I think Almost Human could fill those shoes. Sure it’s still finding it’s legs but the ride so far has been entertaining.


Walking Dead

File Under: End of the mad world and I feel fine

Recommended If You Like: The footsteps of George Romero,

Don’t call it a zombie show! It’s a show about the best and worse of the human condition.


Top of The Lake

File Under: Peggy Post Mad Men

Recommended If You Like: New Zealand Sundance Channel, Holly Hunter’s accent, IFC

Top of the Lake is a slow burn and the first ever series to screen at Sundance. A mysterious pregnancy from a 12 yr old girl, shady characters and an outsider detective (Elizabeth Moss) bring  this series to life. Created, written and directed by Jane Campion (The Piano, Portrait of a Lady).


House of Cards

File Under: Inconceivable

Recommended If You Like: Love/Hating Kevin Spacey, Dark and Stormy DC.

I consumed this whole season in a week when it first came out. This multi-Emmy award winning series has thrown the idea of TV on it’s head. David Fincher made DC look despair laden and powerful in a way that sucks the life from the West Wing.



File Under: Dramatic Family Time

Recommended If You Like: Hugs and crying

I really dig this show. It can be hokey, sappy, and simple but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun.


Things to think about when watching:

  • Define the hero and the villain.
  • Is there a character caught in grey areas?
  • What conventions are being used so that you’ll fill in the blanks and be drawn further in?
  • What story dynamics are involved to keep you from jumping to conclusions about any character?
  • How can these conventions and story tropes be used to help your marketing/branding/story creation process?

When I got the call from the United Way of Los Angeles, they were frustrated and worried about the steady decline of their fundraising dollars over the last several years. Even with a lot of hard work on their part, it wasn’t getting any better.

Their executives knew that everything wasn’t right but they couldn’t put a finger on what the exact problem was. They knew that their social media and digital impression needed help but didn’t know where to start with getting their story out to a wider audience

I immediately evaluated their situation, developed a new strategy and created a campaign to bring in over 60 Million Dollars in the following 12 months. All of their key goals were achieved and the new strategy brought new life into the office as well as the interactions they had with long-time donors.

In the past 5 years I’ve helped non-profits raise over 120 Million dollars. In many cases turning around organizations that have been in steep decline. I’ve also helped discover entirely new audiences that were easily cultivated into new donors.

And now I’m putting together something brand new that can help you do the exact same thing.

  • After working with so many non-profits, I’ve noticed the same problems keep showing up over and over.
  • Lack of understanding their core audience
  • No plan to grow their primary and secondary audiences
  • No time to coordinate effective campaigns
  • No digital marketing strategy to capitalize on social media, blogging and other tools

But here’s the good news, I can help you with all of these problems

I love working with non-profits and helping them connect with donors and raise more money. I’ve coached many of them to work through these and many more roadblocks that exist in reaching their goals.

In fact, let me share two quick ways I have helped a non-profit recently.

First, I helped them focus on the reason they started working at a non-profit to begin with. They wanted to gather people together to change the world, not beat their audience over the head with appeal letter after appeal letter.

Second, I helped them clarify and understand what action they would like their audience to take. Is it to give a donation? If so, how much? Did they want them to join their monthly donor group? What is the process of behavior they’d like their donors to go through?

Once you have these two things established, now you can make some progress!

Here’s my question to you. Are you ready to stop begging people for money and start inspiring change? Are you ready to have a plan that will connect and engage your donors?

I’m working on a new project that will help you, for the first time, actually accomplish these goals.

It’s the Non-Profit Story System and I’m making it available to just 10 organizations today. Keep reading to learn more.

Since the release of my book, The Non-Profit Narrative, I’ve been working on new ideas to help non-profits be successful in their funding campaigns. I used the book to share the frame work of story based fundraising that helps development teams succeed, but I want to go deeper. This opportunity is right for you if:

  • You’ve been frustrated trying to connect to your audience.
  • You’re active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc but can’t get them all converting consistently.
  • You’re experiencing a steady decline in funds.
  • You’re consistently putting out fires and launching last minute appeals.
  • Building your communication system is overwhelming.

I’m putting together the Non-Profit Story System that combines what I’ve learned through building campaigns from scratch and successfully launching all types of funding campaigns - from under 100K to tens of millions of dollars.

In the Non-Profit Story System you’ll find:

  • How the Narrative Story Framework applies to your non-profit.
  • How to acquire and cultivate an audience while telling a compelling story.
  • Strategy to determine Your Best Audiences
  • The Top 3 Storytelling Principals
  • The Step-by-Step guide to Audit and Assess Your Social Media Presence – Turn the Social “Me” to a Social “We”.
  • How to Execute Your “Why” in Your Communications – The “Why” is the most important piece and will inspire your audience to action and support.
  • Ideas to help your team know what needs to be adjusted to transform your current site into a cultivation and acquisition tool.
  • How to Create a System to Measure Success (Key Performance Indicators)
  • The guide to determine your primary and secondary audiences and define the Ideal Behavior for them – Defining what you need will help staff and audiences know what they’re being asked to do.


Here’s a few things people have said after reading just the content in my book:

“If you work for a nonprofit or are on the board of a nonprofit, buy this book.” Ken Mueller

“This is a fantastic book for non-profits and for-profits alike…storytelling is the best to connect with your supporters and customers and Dan’s book offers a simple, step to step guide on how to achieve storytelling success. I highly recommend it.” Kat Krieger

“You should buy a copy of The Non-Profit Narrative for yourself and everyone that you know that works at a non-profit.” Tim Grahl

If that’s what people learn just from reading the book, imagine what you’ll learn during this in-depth video course.

How is the course going to actually work?

  • Long term access. I’ll be releasing the content as I build it, but you’ll have access to go through it at your own pace.
  • Strategy then How-tos. Each section will end with homework… exactly what you can do now to start putting the ideas into practice.
  • Live Webinars. I will do at least two live webinars that will be heavily Q&A so you can ask questions as we go.
  • Learn on the go. Each session will be available in video and mp3. It will also be mobile optimized for any of your devices.
  • 6 weeks of training. The course will officially start the first week of the year and then run for 6 weeks with new content available each week.

What’s the investment?

I normally sell coaching at $500 per hour.

When this course is done, I’ll be selling it for at least $500.

However, I’m looking for 10 people to be a part of this course as I build it. Not only will you get a huge discount, but you’ll get to provide ongoing input on what goes into the final course and ask your questions along the way.

I’m opening the pre-sale of the Non-Profit Story System to just 10 people for $247. As soon as the ten spots are sold, it’ll close and not be available until after the course is built.

Here’s what you need to do to secure your discounted spot:


  • Enter the coupon code PREORDER to get the discounted price (case sensitive)


If you have any questions, feel free to hit reply to this email and ask. I’m happy to answer them.

I can’t wait to help you build your platform and raise more money in 2014!

How to Write the Perfect Opening Sentence



The beginning of any project, a book or your next campaign, needs to start well. If you’d like a master class… look at the works of Charles Dickens. But as for advice – Stephen King knocks it out of the park.


Stephen King’s classic craft memoir On Writing addresses almost everything the master storyteller knows. But one key topic is not covered in that book: how to write a perfect opening sentence. King shared his thoughts, developed over many years of writing, on how books should start and why beginnings matter.

“A book won’t stand or fall on the very first line of prose — the story has got to be there, and that’s the real work. And yet a really good first line can do so much to establish that crucial sense of voice — it’s the first thing that acquaints you, that makes you eager, that starts to enlist you for the long haul. So there’s incredible power in it, when you say, come in here. You want to know about this. And someone begins to listen.”


Taken from ‘s article in the Atlantic. Read the rest of it here

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Buying the right gift for a marketing executive can be tough. So here’s a small suggestion- get Them The Non-Profit Narrative! As a help, the book is on sale at Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

Go Grab it today!

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How To Win Christmas


This years Holiday shopping season has been legendary already. And we’re not at Thanksgiving.

The big guns are out. Reports of locations opening for record hours (Kmart is open for 41 hours straight) The camping out has already started at Phoenix area Best Buy’s.

There’s a lot happening and I know that panicked execs are under a time crunch (This holiday season is 5 days shorter than last year due to a late Thanksgiving) and their bonuses are up for grabs if they aren’t aggressive. The corporations are in this to make money and the masses are signing up in droves for discount deals and price breakers. Social commentary aside, it sounds like a match made in heaven. cause and effect. Done and done.

But I’d like to insert an alternative of a company that is playing by those same rules but their tactics are decidedly different. I’m not sure if that’s a reflection of their european sensibilities or its just such a drastic change from what we’re being bombarded with here in America.

I humbly submit “The Bear and the Hare” by John Lewis. A new commercial for a campaign, complete with backstory. A mix media story that nods to the Rankin/Bass cartoons of our youth but at the same time modern and lush with all the things we require for a good campaign.

Take a great song from Keane and have Lilly Allen cover it with some Christmas sheen and you’re off!

The process of making this commercial is as compelling as the spot itself. In some ways, may be more so. My mouth was agape as I watched the old school techniques blending with new technologies. Take a look.

The campaign has multi-channel, multi-platform appeal too. Social media characters to encourage engagement and give further proof of the story world they’ve created.


All complete with a hashtag to track interaction #bearandhare


Also digitally there’s an iPad app to explore the world further, games for kids to get involved with the brand and move quick. The app is free but only available in the UK.

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Additionally the lines of digital and the inshore experience are completely blurred. This is really the most brilliant piece of it. There’s a digital card maker and you can explore the bear’s cave with lavish displays, additional merchandise all supporting the new brand.

Plus you can buy the Lilly Allen single from the commercial.

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 11.30.58 AM

This commercial and campaign was not cheap. Initial reports say the price tag was £7?Million. However, as a result of such a compelling world, the hiring of experts and providing multiple channels for expression – sales are up £101.45?million, 10.7 per cent up on 2012. See the full article here.


  • Don’t be afraid to dream big.
  • Make sure your use your strengths. For John Lewis it was multi channels experience, foot traffic and current audience.
  • Gather talented people behind a great vision.
  • Invest!
  • The multi channel experience should be seamless.
  • Create an experience with your brand. The Bear and The Hare is a new classic for John Lewis and will probably mean additional chapters in the future. The money has spoken.

This sounds a whole lot better than suiting your business in a race to the bottom with door busters. What say you?

Guest Post – Brad Voigt

Editors Note: I love getting feedback and hearing about how a conversation, a coaching time or something I’ve worked on or created has been able to inspire or educate. So I thought it’d be a good idea to have some of the people who are doing amazing and creative things talk about how we intersect. Today’s post is from Brad Voigt, he’s an amazing guy that has been leading within YoungLife for several years. I asked him to share some of his thoughts on The Non-Profit Narrative. Take it away Brad!

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Seth Godin says every organization has a tribe.  The three criteria of a tribe are: 1.  People are connected to an idea.  2.  People are connected to a leader.  3.  People are connected to one another.  When I read this about four years ago I felt my role as a non-profit leader shift.  Ten years of non-profit leadership in the same community and it felt like we were losing ground. There wasn’t the same buzz in the air although we were doing the same good work we had done previously.  It almost felt like everyone was distracted or somehow our audiences’ attention span had shortened.

So I set out to read as much as I could, I desired to be the leader the tribe needed.  However, stress followed me around, not only were we losing attention in our community but year after year we were not gaining ground on a deficit we had carried for over ten years.

Fast forward to May 9th, 2012, I’m doing what all great leaders do when finances are tight…I was checking Twitter.  Across my feed comes a tweet about a new book on Amazon about Non-Profit story telling.  Plus, it’s FREE on the Kindle for a limited time!  This was a no brainer right?  I immediately downloaded the book and start tearing my way though it.  Three days later and I’m through the whole book.  When I finish it feels like I finally received the training I wanted for 12 years.

Connecting with people as a leader and connecting these people to one another was not holding me back as a tribe leader.  But Dan’s book taught me how to connect people to an idea, this is where I felt the struggle.  For years I thought the “idea” our tribe needed to connect to was a vision statement.  I was so wrong.  The “idea” people wanted to be connected to was not a simple tagline, they wanted to be connected to a story.  An amazing story playing out in the north suburbs of Kansas City where some kids have everything they need and other kids have hardly anything. The story has amazing characters from adult volunteers, staff, teachers, donors, parents, and kids.  At the heart of the story is an organization, which calls these characters into action becoming the hero for local high school kids.

Dan’s book taught me our organization is on the Hero’s Journey. I started to recognize our inciting incident, the reason we must move forward for local kids.  I stopped sharing only the positives to our tribe because I learned great stories are filled with struggle.  People relate to struggle.  Fast forward to now and our tribe is more engaged than ever.  After nearly 14 years of barely making it within our annual budget and trying to get a very large deficit off our back we conquered our financial issues.  We didn’t see a significant increase in “new” donors.  Instead, we saw a significant increase in our tribe in every resource: financial, time, labor, etc.

I want to thank the Portnoy Media Group, and especially Dan for being so generous.  This new way of seeing our story and communicating it the right way has energized our local organization. We’ve stopped inviting people into our organization and now invite people to participate in an incredible story!  Make sure you have read the Non-Profit Narrative!

Connect with Brad

4Liters in the Classroom


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Here’s the second video product we’ve launched for DIGDEEP

This Spring, educators in Southern California challenged their students to try 4Liters and used the flexible, multi-disciplinary curriculum to bring that experience into their classrooms.

I sat down with Maggie Lauder and Joe Kim to get their take on the program and why it’s important for students, teachers and communities.

This project has multiple angles of entry for DIGDEEP’s multiple audiences and it’s important that they back that up with video for easy accessibility.

In an effort to raise awareness and funds for clean water access and conservation, is launching its first annual anti-water poverty campaign asking people to live on just four liters of water a day for up to five days.

LOS ANGELES, Calif., September 17, 2013– A staggering 783 million people worldwide do not have access to enough clean water to live a full and healthy life. Human beings need at least 4 liters (the equivalent of 2 large soda bottles) of water a day to survive and require closer to 50 liters a day to stay healthy in the long term. While nearly a billion people survive on just 4 liters of water a day or less, the average American uses up to 550 liters of water every day, the highest water consumption rate in the world.

“Access to clean water is a basic human right,” states George McGraw, Executive Director, DIGDEEP Water. “Here in the U.S. we consume so much water with such easy access, that we often forget water’s importance to human lives and livelihoods. Even in the U.S. nearly 13% of Native Americans lack clean water or working toilets. Water poverty is more prevalent in under-developed countries; 4,500 children die every day from water borne diseases, and nearly 80% of disease worldwide stems from dirty water. But this is a crisis that affects everyone, and it’s time we find the perspective we need to take action.”

The 4Liter Challenge (4Liters) is a way for anyone to experience the daily struggle of living on a limited amount of water. The challenge exposes Americans to the true value of clean water and provides them with a deeper connection to water access projects combating poverty worldwide. People are encouraged to sign up at, an interactive web tool that will help them fundraise, live-blog and share their experiences across social networks. also offers a free multi-disciplinary curriculum for middle and high school educators bringing themes of water poverty and human rights into the classroom.

One hundred percent of funds raised will be sent to DIGDEEP water access projects in South Sudan, Cameroon, and New Mexico. These sustainable projects are built in partnership with local communities in tremendous need. DIGDEEP’s human rights-based model varies from the work of other water charities by using sustainable technology for its water projects and customized, community-led solutions to achieve basic human rights such as health and safety, gender equity, economic empowerment, and prosperity.

Participants and schools are welcome to learn more about water poverty and take The 4Liter Challenge by signing up at The site also features an informational video featuring David Henrie (Wizards of Waverly Place), Jennifer Cadena (The Roommate) and narrated by Drake Bell (Drake & Josh). All participants will live off of 4 liters of water per day for 2-5 days the week of October 14th (October 14 – October 21, 2013). 4Liters aims to transform public perception of water, water consumption and its value and impact on human life. For more information on DIGDEEP please visit




About DIGDEEP Water

Launched in 2011 by international human rights lawyer George McGraw, DIGDEEP is a human rights organization defending and sustaining access to clean water for everyone worldwide. Changing the way people think about water, DIGDEEP focuses on education and advocacy programs exposing people to the issues and solutions of water poverty, consumption and conservation. Through its sustainable and customizable water access projects DIGDEEP has successfully transformed the lives of thousands of people in South Sudan, Cameroon and the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. DIGDEEP is committed to ending the injustice of water poverty and 100% of all donations support their water projects in the field. To learn more visit   

Behind the Scenes with 4Liters


4 Liters is the next campaign from DIGDEEP, a human rights organization that defends water access. They work on the 100% donor model and generally make the world a better place. We’re collaborating for 4Liters, a next generation experience on the need for access to clean water. The campaign launches in the month of October. Here’s a few pictures of the campaign video shoot this Saturday, starring David Henrie (Little Boy, Wizards of Waverly Place ) and Jennifer Cadena (The Roommate, Premonition).