What My Wife Taught Me About Grabbing Attention & Social Change

I remember when I first saw her. She was wearing a black and beige dress with flats. We agreed to meet in the middle of the day at the Philadelphia Museum of Modern Art. This was a great place to have a first date, not just because art is awesome, but because she wanted to make sure I wasn’t a creep (we originally met on E-harmony and it was still met with some skepticism).

The date was really simple, which I appreciated. We walked and talked. Grabbed a bite to eat and walk and talked some more.

grabbing attention social change

On our first date

After several hours hanging out, the time pretty much flew by, she was pretty sure I wasn’t a creeper and allowed me to drop her off at her mother’s job nearby.  She asked me to connect on Facebook before she hopped out, which I thought was a good sign.

Fast forward several years, and I am writing this from our dining room table in the house we recently bought as she tries to put our daughter (who is fighting a cold) to sleep.

I’m not just lucky; I’m blessed. We almost didn’t make it (perhaps for another blog) and enjoy the wonderful life we share.

As I look back, I wondered, what sparked it all?

Was it the first date?


Was it the phone call conversations that spanned hours?


Was it the dates to movies, jazz clubs, concerts, etc.?

Those were cool, but no.

You know what truly sparked it all?

It was her eharmony profile pic.


My attention was initially caught by her e-harmony pictures and I make no apologies for this. On top of being pretty, my wife’s profile pictures gave me a sense that she was playful and sweet. These pictures, which led me to make that millisecond decision to click on the profile, gave me a chance to learn more and see if she would want to connect further. Suzy Frog Social Change

And those few milliseconds, ladies and gentleman, lead me to this blog. It is what truly kicked it off for me. Out of all the profiles I went through, I found an attractive person who seemed fun and quirky that I felt I totally could connect with. And if it wasn’t for that spark, I wouldn’t be where I am today…sitting at my dining room table, typing this as my wife and daughter (finally) sleep.

I. Am. Living. The. Dream.

And it all started with my wife taking a chance and creating a profile and adding those pics.

Was it hard for her to do that?

Yes. She is very introverted and does not like putting herself out there.

Was she nervous about trying out online dating?


Did she hate spending money on a service that might not guarantee results.

Knowing what I know now, of course!

And she did it anyways…and because of it she has a ring on her finger.  

This is true in romance just as much as it is in social change. You cannot be considered for a first impression for a donation unless you have earned the right to first grab attention!

So the question I have for you is this:

As social change leaders, what are you doing to put your organization and cause out there? How are you earning that sacred but fleeting attention? How much is that worth to you? How much are you willing to spend on it in dollars?

If you are not willing to overcome the awkward start in paid digital marketing (like many first dates), you will never put yourself in a position to find your perfect match of volunteers and donors for social change. You have to slice through the noisy world we live in at grab attention. And if you think that you are  just going to stumble into Mr/s. Success at a blockbuster store while reaching for that same last VHS copy of a movie like a cheezy start to a terrible 90’s Rom-com, then good luck! You’re going to need it because what is most likely to happen is your organization will most likely end up becoming the cat lady.

No but seriously – all terrible analogies aside – you need to be found before someone can fall in love with you or your cause. This is how seriously we need to treat this concept of attention. And in a culture that values access over connection, it is those who risk putting their organization out there in unique and creative ways that end up successfully grabbing attention.

I am so glad and grateful I found my wife. Similarly, there will be those out there who, when found, will be just as grateful in finding your organization. Go out there and make it happen and let the matchmaking begin.

// Action Steps for Grabbing Attention For Social Change

  • If the internet (or social media rather) was one big online dating site looking to match your nonprofit with influencers, volunteers, or donors, how would you grab their attention via social media?
  • How would you try to turn that initial attention into captivation?
  • How does this emphasis on grabbing attention impact the way you promote your events? How you frame your email subjects lines?
  • How much would you be willing to spend to experiment on paid advertising to help you find more donors or more volunteers? Remember, it doesn’t have to cost much to advertise on social media.

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