NEW YORK () – What happened on Red Nose Day in Comic Relief 2020, like many philanthropic campaigns during the pandemic, was not laughable.
In February last year, Alison Moore, CEO of Comic Relief USA, said the charity was ready to do “amazing things” around its annual day wearing bright red fake noses to raise money and awareness for American children in need. Since 2015, she has received $ 240 million and helped 25 million children.
Yet within weeks, COVID-19 forced the charity to a scaled-down, mostly virtual event.
Red Nose Day will rise again this year. And its mission will be more ambitious than before, the non-profit organization will expand its star plans in collaboration with NBC, Walgreens and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Most notably, Red Nose Day will now be a year-round effort to address children’s needs and raise awareness of their problems every day.
“How can we use a red nose as a symbol of hope,” Moore said, “to remind people that the journey is still long for many people?” The work is not done and is in fact harder and deeper than before. “
“There were a lot of reports that COVID didn’t affect the children, so, ‘Don’t worry, it’s not a problem,'” she added. “Well, in truth, their entire infrastructure has fallen apart.” Their nurses and families got sick and lost their jobs … It was crucial that we were there and talked about why the children have to be at the center of this conversation. “
The mission will be fully visible on May 27, this year’s Red Nose Day, when NBC broadcasts a fundraising release of its game show “The Wall” for nearly two months of accumulation for a day of fundraising. But then it won’t end. The growing need for its grants and programs has led Comic Relief USA to decide that its campaign will run throughout the year to ensure that children are safe, educated and healthy, including having enough food, said Lorelei Williams, senior vice president of Comic Relief. US grant programs.
Success stories, such as five-year-old Mason at Educare California in Silicon Valley, who, after receiving a grant from Red Nose Day, could learn remotely to prepare for kindergarten, sticking to Williams. Mason had looked shy and a little depressed before. After working with his teachers and mother, he became more connected with his family and became more sociable.
“These are the types of pivots that our grant recipients create – due to their strong and tangible impact on young people,” Williams said.
Comic Relief USA is hardly fine-tuning its mission alone in the wake of the viral pandemic and its economic destruction, as well as protests against racial justice reinforced by the police killing of George Floyd. A survey by the consulting firm Dalberg Advisors, the Council for Foundations and Philanthropy in California, found that more than 60% of American foundations adjusted their plans and in 2020 increased their donations by an average of 17%.
“We’ve certainly seen a lot of foundations that have decided to focus specifically on restoring COVID-19,” said Marcus Haymon, a Dalberg associate and co-author of the report. “We’ve seen some decide to invest in racial capital – by mixing it and putting it into existing programming, as well as building new racial capital initiatives.”
This shift continues in 2021, in part because foundations need time and other information to revise their priorities to ensure that their recruitment and financial practices, as well as their investments and business practices, support their new mission.
“We’ve heard from foundations that they say, ‘We’re really interested in making these pins.’ We are interested in changing our investment practices, “said Haymon. “The ways you do it and how you actually work are much more challenging.”
Given the urgency of their mission, the organizers of Red Nose Day say they plan to take on these challenges. Moore said last year’s Red Nose Day was able to raise about $ 37 million – less than in previous years, but a solid idea given the huge uncertainty these months.
“We were pleasantly surprised,” Moore said. “Then we thought about how to keep it going.”
That’s when they came up with the idea of turning Red Nose Day into a year-round business. The organization felt the need to continue to inform its donors about the need for children to learn technology online and the growing problem of food insecurity.
At the same time, Red Nose Day teamed up with YouTube game creator Sean “Jacksepticeye” McLoughlin for his “Thanksgiving” collection between Thanksgiving and Christmas, an annual streaming event that viewers must watch as they watch video games play with other digital stars. .
“It generated $ 4.7 million with it, which really encouraged young people and other influencers to donate $ 1, $ 10, 10 to help children this December, which was unprecedented for us,” Moore said.
Although this year’s Red Nose Day will continue to be a hybrid of virtual and personal events, the organizers hope to create an impetus for their new year-round fundraising efforts.
Patrick McLean, chief marketing officer at Walgreens, said the company had sold millions of red noses in the past six years. They have become a symbol, he said – even in its digital form – of “optimism and the importance of improving the lives of the next generation.”
While Red Nose itself will remain virtual this year, Walgreens employees beginning this month will wear Red Nose masks to help increase interest in the campaign, along with inscriptions in its stores.
The American comic book Williams stated that she hopes that people will see the Red Nose as a “beacon of hope”.
“Right now, there is a real critical moment for many non-profit organizations that are facing a major threat in terms of their own finances,” she said. “For us, it was just a matter of really embedding our commitment to serve children no matter the circumstances.”
Last year, Williams said Comic Relief USA had accelerated the payment of grants to give the nonprofits they work with a better chance of overcoming the confusion. It also removed some restrictions so that non-profit organizations could use grant money for personal protective equipment and other emergency needs.
On May 27, Red Nose Day will continue to gather celebrities and professionals and affected families to remind people how children are suffering, Moore said. However, he hopes that the symbol of the Red Nose, suitable for children, will be considered a year-round reminder.
“There’s this whole element of Red Nose Day that signals not only hope but also empathy and action,” Moore said. “It has to come with a call to action, a call to the community to do something.”