Red Nose Day 2017: Ideas and advice

Written by: Anna Budzynska | Published:
Image: Quetzal Maucci

This year, Red Nose Day takes place on Friday, March 24. With thousands of schools planning to take part, Anna Budzynska offers a range of activity and fundraising ideas as well as some general advice

As a former geography teacher who now works for the Schools and Youth Team at Comic Relief, I have experienced fundraising from both sides.

I remember all too well the feelings aroused in school by a “big event” like Red Nose Day: excitement, community spirit, hilarity and, ultimately, a sense of achievement.

My own fundraising experience as a teacher was fairly standard, comprising non-uniform days, bake sales and the odd “sponge your teacher”.

However, in my role at Comic Relief, I have been lucky enough to get an overview of some of the more original and inspirational ways that secondary schools around the country make the most of Red Nose Day – with incredible results for all concerned.

So, here are some ideas and advice for how you could turn Red Nose Day into a memorable event for your school. Some of these ideas could of course also be used for other fundraising events.

Put a twist on the traditional

This year, why not put a twist on the usual Red Nose Day fundraising activities? The theme is Make Your Laugh Matter, so how about planning a comedy show starring students and teachers, red refreshments, a red raffle, an evening audience of parents and press coverage?

If you are holding a red non-uniform day, offer prizes for the “reddest” student and teacher. If you are planning a bake sale, why not turn it into a teachers versus students baking competition?

If you are organising a sponsored event, be as ambitious as possible. Think bigger and better – sky-diving and marathon-running may not be feasible, but make what you do as exciting and inspiring as you can. Fundraising can be a liberating context for students (and teachers!) to step out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves.

Make fundraising meaningful

Use assemblies, tutor time and lessons to make sure students understand why they are fundraising and how the money they raise will make a difference. Red Nose Day is a fantastic opportunity to explore global issues in a meaningful context – how could you build it into classroom learning? Comic Relief has prepared a range of free learning resources to help you, with high-quality films, posters, tutor time activities and assembly presentations – everything’s available to download.

Use time creatively

A growing number of secondary schools are now spreading their Red Nose Day fundraising activities over the whole week, rather than focusing everything on the Friday (as one school leader said, “there are only so many cakes you can sell in the space of seven hours”).

Why not fill Monday to Thursday with small-scale fundraisers by individual tutor groups or houses and save the Friday for big whole-school events? Alternatively, for Red Nose Day 2015 one secondary school took the radical step of taking all students off timetable for the day.

Put students in charge

Red Nose Day is all about young people having fun to raise money and this year we would love as many students as possible to take control. It is their day and they will know best what will motivate their school mates.

You may already have students leading fundraising activities through your school’s house system, year councils or the main school council. If not, enlist a band of particularly enthusiastic youngsters and put them in charge.

There’s no better way to develop employability and enterprise skills – planning, negotiation, risk-taking, team-work, communication, problem-solving, decision-making – and at the end of the day, the pride and elation students feel as a result of making a difference can have long-lasting effects. This year, we have produced a Students in Charge guide, with ideas, tips and tools for organising a comedy show for Red Nose Day.

Teacher-student team-work

Giving staff and students opportunities to work together on Red Nose Day activities can be a great way to strengthen relationships. It reminds teachers what students are capable of and encourages students to see teachers in a different light as they share their fundraising endeavours and sillier moments! Why not appoint a team of staff and students to take on different roles, such as organising Red Nose Day assemblies, fundraising activities, communication and money handling?

Get parents involved

All too often, parental involvement in events like Red Nose Day declines after primary school. Yet secondary schools that invest time in enlisting the support of parents reap benefits both in terms of money raised and family links. If you use a cashless payment system you’ll need to communicate with parents about sending their children with money on the day. Why not ask for their support at the same time? Perhaps they could contribute to a bake sale, take part in a sponsored event or come and watch your talent show? Or could you organise a quiz night just for parents? Getting parents involved in fundraising activities can be a great way to showcase the school and offer an insight into the school’s ethos.

Rally the local community

Similarly, schools find that rallying the support of the local community to support fundraising events can be a great way to raise the school’s profile, make new friends locally and raise more money. If you’re organising a big sponsored event or show, why not ask the local community to join in? Approach local companies to see if they will support your fundraising activities by providing free resources, for example ingredients for a bake sale or tee-shirts for a sponsored walk. Forging relationships with local businesses in this way can open up future opportunities for work experience, support with supplies and careers advice. You’ll find a letter template to help you make contact with businesses on our website.

Spread the word

Communication is the key to successful fundraising. If people don’t know what’s happening, they won’t take part. Display posters in school and tell students what’s happening in assemblies and tutor time. Keep parents informed through newsletters, posters, text messages and social media.

Post updates on Twitter throughout the day so parents feel involved. Why not contact your local paper or radio station to see if they can send along a photographer or reporter? You will find a press release template on the website that you can adapt and send out to the local media. Getting publicity for your fundraising efforts can be a great way to generate positive PR and help the community understand your school’s ethos.


Perhaps the most common piece of advice that we hear from schools is simply to enjoy events like Red Nose Day. Focus on fun and enjoyment for the day, foster a positive atmosphere and harness the buzz. Schools have reported that rather than detracting from learning, Red Nose Day can actually result in increased positivity and bring about improvements in students’ behaviour and attitude to learning.

The overall message? Get planning, go for it and have a great time. Red Nose Day is the stuff that school memories are made of.

  • Anna Budzynska is a former secondary school teacher and now a member of the Comic Relief Schools and Youth Team.

Comic Relief and Red Nose Day

Comic Relief is a UK registered charity that aims to create a just world free from poverty in which everybody is safe, healthy, educated and empowered. The money raised has helped, and is helping, people living incredibly tough lives, both at home in the UK and across the world. This year’s Red Nose Day will take place on Friday, March 24, and you can find a range of fundraising ideas and learning resources on the Red Nose Day website at


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