While the urgent support needed for many social and environmental issues is no laughing matter, sometimes a dose of humor is just what is needed to motivate people to support important causes. This is the lesson learned from the U.K.'s #1 television fundraising event, which over a span of thirty years has raised more than $1 billion in donations. For the first time ever, the event will be taking over American televisions screens for a major fundraising affair.
Red Nose Day, the British institution, came to the U.S. for the first time last night with a three-hour television program on NBC, using humor to raise awareness and funds for a good cause. The mammoth event featured skits, performances and videos from nearly 100 celebrities and musicians with the goal to "lift children and young people out of poverty in the U.S. and in some of the poorest communities in the world." The event, with help from corporate partners Walgreen's and M&M's, aligned with 12 nonprofit organizations including charity: water, Feeding America, Oxfam America, and Save the Children. Beyond the television event, Red Nose Day gained momentum through a dedicated Twitter handle, "Red Nose Yourself" app, a danceathon leading up to the event lead by Nick Cannon and a series of sketch videos produced by Funny or Die. Consumers were encouraged to join in the fun by donning red noses or donating though an online portal.
Taking a page from the wild success across the pond, Red Nose Day is making a splash in the U.S., harnessing celebrity activation, corporate and nonprofit partners and of course, laughs, to raise funds and awareness for children living in poverty in the U.S. and across the world. While the results from the effort remain to be seen, Red Nose Day has certainly turned eyes (and noses) to a worthy cause.