Brad MacAfee
Brad MacAfee

There’s nothing funny about child poverty. But Comic Relief USA, the organization behind the national fundraising campaign Red Nose Day, has found that comedy and entertainment are having a positive impact in reducing child poverty worldwide. Since its launch in the U.S. in 2015, Red Nose Day has raised nearly $150 million. In less than five years, the campaign has impacted the lives of more than 16 million children. These statistics are impressive. What is equally impressive is the power that partnership has played in leveraging Red Nose Day for those in need.

Real disruption comes when companies join forces and elevate each other’s strengths, according to studies in leading publications like the Harvard Business Review. We fervently agree that partnership is the “secret sauce” for social change. In fact, leading partners like Walgreens and NBC have worked closely to illustrate Red Nose Day through in-store activations and primetime programming over the years. These organizations have leveraged the undeniable might that comes from harnessing entertainment for positive change—encouraging celebrities and everyday consumers alike to make a difference through Red Nose Day activities.

Organizations that donate a percentage of proceeds during Red Nose Day fundraising also fortify their positions as purpose-driven brands committed to positive change. Not only do they increase sales during the drive for good, but they also ensure consumer sentiment remains high throughout the year. According to the 2018 Porter Novelli/Cone Purpose Study, more than 78 percent of Americans believe companies must do more than just make money; they must positively impact society as well. What’s more, 66 percent would switch from a product they typically buy, to a new product from a Purpose-driven company. Socially conscious consumers will reward brands that authentically engage in causes that matter.

Red Nose

While we have long seen Purpose-driven efforts led by traditional “do-gooder” companies, we are now starting to see unexpected players—like gamers and security companies—making major moves to help give back to society. As agency of record for Comic Relief USA, Porter Novelli is dedicated to supporting this cause, but we also want to encourage other industry leaders and brands to do the same. Not only is it a healthy for a company’s bottom line, but it also resonates in the hearts and minds of consumers and employees alike.

The agility of brand partners, big and small, is making real material differences for Comic Relief USA. Now, 45 percent of Americans say they are aware of Red Nose Day and 20 percent said they donated to the cause. While this is wonderful, there are millions more children who need help. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says that the number of children living in poverty in the U.S.—currently estimated to be 13 million—can be cut in half over the next 10 years by expanding existing programs, including tax credits, housing vouchers and food stamps.

But we don’t have to wait a decade to make progress. Giving is contagious and each effort ladders up to seismic change. Red Nose Day has reached scale quickly by reaching consumers where they live, work and play. By engaging people through laughter and joy, even when it concerns the dark reality of child poverty, they have opened hearts and minds. With Comic Relief USA’s fifth annual Red Nose Day taking place today, May 23, 2019, there’s something everyone can do right now. Let’s give all children the future they so rightfully deserve. We are proud to be partners of this incredible organization, and to quote the team at Comic Relief “#NosesOn”!

Brad MacAfee is CEO at Porter Novelli.