Q&A: How nonprofits can leverage celebrity endorsements to raise money and further their missions

The Coast Guard Foundation made waves when it landed the celebrity endorsement of Sig Hansen, Deadliest Catch star, on the show Celebrity Apprentice. We sit down with Jennifer Fyk, Senior Director of Communications for the Foundation, to ask how nonprofits can leverage celebrity endorsements to further their missions and how using Soapbox for their website empowers them to get the most out of this unique opportunity.


Jennifer Fyk, Coast Guard Foundation
Q&A with Jennifer Fyk
Senior Director of Communications,
Coast Guard Foundation


Q: Why did Sig Hansen choose to support the Coast Guard Foundation?

A: As a crab fisherman who makes his living in the rough seas of Alaska, Sig Hansen is personally familiar with the life-saving work that the U.S. Coast Guard does on a daily basis. Once he learned there was a way to give back to the men and women of the Coast Guard by supporting the Coast Guard Foundation, it was a perfect fit.

Q: How long as Sig been a supporter of the Coast Guard Foundation?

A: Sig first got involved with the Coast Guard Foundation in 2009 at an event we host in Seattle, and then again came out to support the Foundation at our national tribute to the Coast Guard in Washington, D.C. in 2010. He gave an unforgettable, and characteristically colorful, speech at the event.

“We need them badly,” Sig said of the Coast Guard. “And I’m afraid that if they’re not there, then I may not come home. I have a lot of friends… who are still alive today, because of the Coast Guard.”

Q: How is the Coast Guard Foundation leveraging this unique opportunity to build support for its mission?

A: We’re trying to spread the word of Sig’s appearance on The Apprentice across all of our digital channels to get the word out. We crafted an e-mail message to go out to our entire mail file, as well as created an action page for people to join the “I’m With Sig” campaign. Then we’ve had great success on Facebook and Twitter promoting his appearance while the show is live on-air.

Q: What advice would the Coast Guard Foundation give to other nonprofits turning celebrity support into wider reaching support?

A: This is a difficult question for nonprofits. Celebrities can offer great opportunities for charities to get wider exposure, but you run the risk of chasing something that may not pay off, or take up a huge amount of your already limited time. In our case, we’re very lucky to have Sig Hansen competing for the Coast Guard Foundation, because he’s a very easy-going guy, who has always been easy to work with. Q: How is Soapbox assisting in making the most of this unique endorsement?

A: We like to say that our website is the face of our organization. Ever since we redesigned our website in 2011, we’ve been so happy to be part of the Soapbox community. We’re actually in the process of implementing responsive design in our Soapbox site, but we revamped and updated the homepage first. The ease of use of Soapbox really allows us to change things on the fly without a lot of hassle, which enables us to act fast and maximize our online presence when a great opportunity like the Sig Hansen appearance pops up.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 at 12:12 pm and is filed under Online Fundraising. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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