The Lab; Portnoy Media Group Blog

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

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.

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).


Pure Charity Webinar

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Last weeks webinar has posted on the Pure Charity website.

This hour long webinar focuses on 4 goals:

  • How to think like a storyteller.
  • How to use your current tools for implementing a great story.
  • How to respect the channel.
  • How to jumpstart your next campaign.

Check it out today!


CreativeMornings with Seth Godin

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Check out this great talk from Seth Godin from CreativeMornings back in May.


Don’t Do This

You’re better than this. We’re better than this. let’s make the Internet a better place.

DogHouseDiaries created this comic as part of their ongoing series of awesome but I think it’s pretty dead on.



Want To Tell A Good Story?


Join me this Thursday for a webinar hosted by Pure Charity on storytelling for non-profits. We’ll be talking about some key themes that every marketing manager and development director needs to consider for effective marketing strategy.

The webinar happens  this Thursday, Jul 11, 2013 at 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PDT

Register here or click the picture – See you there!


New Prints from The Non-Profit Narrative


Nashville Calligrapher and tastemaker, Molly Margaret has just released 4 prints about The Non-Profit Narrative. These four prints feature popular highlights from kindle readers around the company. You can see what people are saying about the book here.


Each print is a gallery quality Giclée print on natural white, matte, ultra smooth, 100% cotton rag, acid and lignin free archival paper using Epson K3 archival inks. Custom trimmed with 1″ border for framing. Available in 3 sizes 8×8, 13×13, and 17×17.


Pick one up for the nonprofit founder, marketing manager or development director for that shot in the arm of encouragement – they’re perfect as a gift!


Thai Smoking PSA Smashes Convention

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This PSA is a great example of doing something basic and poignant can be powerful. This kind of PSA goes against convention and costs almost nothing to film. The words that they wanted to communicate came out of the mouths of the people they wanted to talk to. Brilliant

How are you flipping convention on it’s head in your campaigns and engaging people in a way that they’ve never been before?