Comic Relief US is led by its mission to create a just world free from poverty by harnessing the power of entertainment to influence social impact. At the heart of the Comic Relief US’ wide-ranging initiatives, targeting the complexities of intergenerational poverty, is the organization’s iconic campaign: Red Nose Day.
In America, nearly 20% of children live in families with an income below the federal poverty threshold. Through humor and hope, Red Nose Day makes the seemingly impossible challenge of ending the cycle of poverty a real possibility. Red Nose Day engages consumers with joy and levity to raise awareness of the cause and mobilize individuals to believe that with a small thing, whether one nose or one dollar, they can be a part of our movement for change.
The goal of Red Nose Day is to transform lives by breaking the cycle of poverty, with funds raised helping ensure that children and families are safe, healthy, educated, and empowered across the U.S. and around the world while also fostering significant, structural changes addressing the factors that trap generations in the cycle of poverty.
What started with something as simple as a Red Nose has transformed into a true social movement that is making game-changing impacts in the lives of children living in under-served communities and creating opportunities for healthy futures.
As entertainment is deeply rooted in culture, which is represented on a massive scale through traditional and social media, among other popular vehicles, Comic Relief US crafted Red Nose Day with an innovative mix of celebrity engagement, media partnerships, and retail activations that generate mass awareness and mobilize individuals to engage with the cause, including via direct donations, fundraisers, and sales of Red Noses.
In 2023, NBC – the premier media partner for Red Nose Day – supported the campaign with over 20 national and local promotional moments throughout the 8-week campaign, including support from shows including 'The Voice,' 'Today,' 'Access Hollywood,' 'E! News, and a special Red Nose Day episode of 'The Wall.' Over 20 media partners, including Comcast, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Spotify, and Pandora, helped generate awareness via pro bono media support.
Hundreds of celebrities have supported Red Nose Day over the years, and that star power across the entertainment industry continued in 2023 with in-person appearances, social media engagement, and more, with over 30 stars, including Gloria Estefan, Elizabeth Banks, and Octavia Spencer. Schools got in on the fun through peer-to-peer fundraising, and landmark buildings across the country got involved too: The New Orleans Superdome, Orlando Wheel at Icon Park, Niagara Falls, Philadelphia's One Liberty Place, the Cleveland Terminal Tower and the Dallas Bank of America building all lit up in Red to mark the special occasion.
The iconic Red Noses were once again sold at over 9,000 Walgreens locations nationwide for $1 each, with millions more raised in-store via the pin-pad at checkout. Their store and distribution center teams held fundraising competitions, with the winners receiving a Red Nose Day grant to be given to a local grantee partner of their choice.
Although initially established as a "day," Red Nose Day has since transformed into a year-round initiative. For instance, Comic Relief US recently partnered with 1-800-Flowers on a "Red Nose Day" promotion timed to back-to-school. In April, The Harlem Globetrotters partnered with Red Nose Day, helping raise funds during 25 of their games while turning out some specially crafted Red Nose Day trick shots.
Returning partner British Airways fundraised in 20 U.S. airports, and eBay for Charity provided customers with the option to round up their purchase as a donation at checkout.
Red Nose Day 2023 has made a major impact, helping further bolster it as a meaningful, highly engaging social movement transforming lives and promoting a culture of generosity that can benefit everyone, especially those most in need.
Demonstrating the profound impact of Red Nose Day, the 2023 campaign raised $41 million, bringing the total amount generated since 2015 to $365 million. Proceeds raised annually via Red Nose Day have positively impacted the lives of over 32 million children by supporting essential programs that provide medical care, food, shelter, education, and other resources. This work is done through funds awarded to largely community-based grantee partners across the country and around the world, with new, enhanced efforts to support BIPOC, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, and youth-led organizations, especially in the rural south; these priorities reflect Comic Relief US' nimble and ever-evolving innovative approach that addresses the evolving complexities, and root causes, of intergenerational poverty – not just its consequences.
The continued fundraising success of Red Nose Day means that Comic Relief US can continually increase its investment in these priority organizations, with an increase from 6% of its annual grants to 42% in just four years – a remarkable transformation powered by a growing movement for change.
Thanks to the visibility and reach incorporated into the campaign via popular and brand-aligned vehicles such as the NBC and retail partnerships, we achieved a collective total of over 237M media impressions. Consumers were exposed to the campaign this year via multiple touchpoints, influencing them to engage with Comic Relief US. As a result, millions of people from all over the country joined in, helping reinforce how even small things – like purchasing a Red Nose – can make a big impact. Americans of all ages from all walks of life wore their Red Noses, celebrating the campaign's annual tradition that brings people together to have fun, raise money, and transform the lives of children in underserved communities.