Clowning for a cause


Finnair helps spread the message of Red Nose Day, which encourages individuals and organisations to goof off in support of international aid work.

At one time or another, we’ve all played the game: what would you do for a thousand euros? Our personal boundaries for outlandishness vary, of course, but for the right sum, most of us would be willing to partake in something outside of our comfort zones – especially to help others. Red Nose Day, a concept launched by UK-based Comic Relief in 1988, plays with this idea to get individuals and organisations to put on funny fundraising campaigns to combat poverty. These can include putting on a talent show, shaving one’s head or wearing pyjamas to the office.

Red Nose Day has spread to several countries including Finland, whose three-week campaign supports children’s health care and education in developing countries. As in the UK, the event culminates in a televised, celebrity-studded fundraising show on November 9 on national broadcasting company YLE TV2. Finland’s Red Nose Day is put on by the YLE Helps Foundation and involves nine different aid organisations, including UNICEF, the Finnish Red Cross and Finn Church Aid. Finnair is one of Red Nose Day’s corporate sponsors, transporting campaign’s trademark clown noses annually from Hong Kong. This year Finnair is also hosting a themed Red Nose flight from Helsinki to London.

Education in the air

“One of our goals this year is to narrow the fundraising lead of the British. They still raise five times more per person than we do in Finland,” says Anu Rapeli, Executive Director of YLE Helps Foundation.  “Because we have announced this friendly competition against the UK, we wanted to organise this flight to get people pumped up.”

The Red Nose flight will take place on a Finnair passenger flight from Helsinki to London in the beginning of November. There will be some special in-flight entertainment for the passengers on this flight.

For the first time Finnair transported Red Nose Day’s noses to Finland already in 2007. This year the airline flew in 70,000 noses, which will be sold at R-kioski convenience stores nationwide.

“When we needed a partner to transport noses for the campaign, Finnair was, of course, the logical choice,” adds Rapeli. “It’s wonderful to see that the collaboration has grown and evolved to events such as this flight. I’m also interested in seeing what fundraising ideas Finnair’s staff comes up with.”

Would you jump for money?

Red Nose Day has traditionally been a popular opportunity for light-hearted corporate fundraising. In the UK, for example, members of Ernst & Young’s management had their legs waxed in the company lobby after the staff met its fundraising goal. In Finland Dozens of companies and schools take part in Red Nose Day with various kinds of fundraising activities. Ideas and inspiration can be found on the Red Nose Day web pages: (in Finnish)

Even in an uncertain economic climate, in which rallying people together for philanthropic efforts can be challenging, Red Nose Day has gained ground: the number of donations in Finland has grown steadily since 2007, when the grand total was 1.6 million euros. The campaign crossed the threshold of two million euros in 2011.

“When we call organisations and potential supporters and ask them to join, the answer is almost always ‘yes, and why haven’t you asked us before?’” says Rapeli, adding that their long-term goal is to turn Red Nose Day into a national fundraising day.

The Finnish Red Nose Day’s slogan is a popular saying: ‘Laughter gives you a longer life.’  “By participating we can, literally, help lengthen lives in developing countries,” Rapeli adds.
By Laura Palotie


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Published October 5, 2012

Category: Corporate Responsibility