Finnair helps spread laughter

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The annual Nenäpäivä – Finnish Red Nose Day – encourages the public to let go of their inhibitions in support of education, community development and health care in developing countries. At the centre of the campaign are red noses sold at retailers around Finland.

Since 2007, Finnair has supported Finland’s Red Nose Day, a proudly goofy charity initiative that originated in the UK in 1985. 

Held every autumn and culminating in a televised gala show on Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle (November 8th this year), the campaign encourages companies, organizations and individuals to put on goofy performances and projects to benefit children in developing countries. Volunteers might organize talent shows, solicit hugs in a public place while wearing an off-the-wall costume, or wax their body hair for a donation.
 
One can also support the campaign in more traditional means – by making a monetary donation, for example, or purchasing a red nose for two euros. Finnair has aided the campaign by transporting a shipment of thousands of noses from China to Finnair’s Helsinki hub. 
 
“This year’s shipment of noses is significantly larger than in previous years, indicating that awareness towards this good cause seems to be on the rise,” says Milla Nyholm, marketing and sustainability manager at Finnair Cargo.

Focus on forgotten regions

Funds raised through Red Nose Day benefit nine aid groups including UNICEF, Plan Finland and the Finnish Red Cross. Proceeds are distributed evenly between these participating organisations. Funds go to projects ranging from health services for mothers and children in Kenya and educational initiatives in Haiti to efforts to reduce child labour in Bangladesh. Over the past decade the Finnish Red Nose Day campaign has raised roughly 16 million euros.
 
According to Anu Rapeli, executive director of Yle Helps Foundation, which organizes the campaign, one of Red Nose Day’s goals is bringing help to regions that are sometimes forgotten by global media and thus slip the public’s attention. 
 
”Getting people to act is easier when an immediate disaster strikes, but people’s everyday lives in many parts of the developing world are sometimes forgotten,” she says.
 


Above: Anna-Liisa Tilus in Burundi

The power of collaborative spirit

Each year Red Nose Day also recruits celebrities and other public personas to serve as ambassadors for the campaign. Platinum-selling Finnish teen idol Robin, for example, has released a Red Nose Day single. Robin also visited Burundi in Central Africa earlier this year with well-known television host Anna-Liisa Tilus to bring attention to local work supported by the Finnish Red Nose Day. Health care systems are still insufficient in Burundi, where a civil war ended in 2006, and proceeds from Red Nose Day help sponsor the training of new Red Cross volunteers.
 
“Poverty and hardship was tangible everywhere in Burundi, but the people we met were still able to remain cheerful about small everyday things. It made me think about our own continuous complaining,” says Tilus. “There’s hope in Burundi, thanks in large part to a strong tradition of community spirit and helping. More than 450,000 locals volunteer for the Red Cross,” she adds.
 
”An important aspect of the work in Burundi is spreading information – learning and teaching the right way to install a mosquito net so that malaria can be prevented more effectively, for example,” says Rapeli. “Even a small piece of information goes a long way.”
Above: Michael Monroe
 
Rapeli adds that in addition to its playful spirit and focus on entertainment – this year, for example, veteran rocker Michael Monroe has participated in a campaign encouraging people to make donations while using ATM machines – the strength of Red Nose Day lies in its collaborative spirit.
 
“Each of the nine aid organizations that participate have different areas of focus, but they all come together for Red Nose Day,” she says. “And despite the tough economic times, we raised 2.3 million euros in 2012. It goes to show that there’s a huge amount of enthusiasm for doing good out there.”
 
Text by Laura Palotie
Photos by Yle Helps Foundation

 

Published November 6, 2013

Category: Collaboration, Corporate Responsibility

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