Comic Relief to drop biennial Sport Relief event and run Red Nose Day every year instead

The two events have been held in alternate years but Sport Relief will become an all-year-round campaign

Dame Judi Dench backs Red Nose Day 2021 (Photograph: Jacqui Black/Comic Relief/Getty Images)
The actor Dame Judi Dench backs Red Nose Day 2021 (Photograph: Jacqui Black/Comic Relief/Getty Images)

Comic Relief is to move away from running a Sport Relief event every two years and hold Red Nose Day every 12 months instead. 

The grant-maker says in its latest annual accounts that after a “difficult Sport Relief in 2020”, which was severely affected by the pandemic but still raised £2.3m more than the previous event in 2018, it planned to evolve the event into an all-year-round format. 

Sport Relief has alternated with Red Nose Day since it was first run in 2002 but has typically raised significantly less money than Red Nose Day. 

Comic Relief said the move to make Red Nose Day an annual event would stabilise its income and generate new opportunities to increase revenue. 

Alex Botha, chief operating officer at Comic Relief, said: “For the first time in 20 years we’re changing from alternating Sport Relief and Red Nose Day campaigns to Red Nose Day becoming annual and returning every March, and Sport Relief evolving into a year-round brand from 2022. 

“Sport Relief is set to partner with major events, sports projects and sports stars, with more details set to be announced in the new year. 

“This is happening at a time where Comic Relief is focusing on fundraising and using pop culture and sport for social change all year round.”

Comic Relief’s accounts, for the year to the end of March, also show that its annual income was down by almost £4m year on year to £74.1m, partly because its income in 2019/20 was boosted by the one-off Big Night In Campaign held to raise funds during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The charity spent £86.2m, down from £105.6m in the previous year, meaning it recorded a deficit of £12.1m. 

This was because of a “continued acceleration of the allocation of funds raised in prior years to ensure that we have delivered the maximum impact in challenging times”, the charity said. 

Comic Relief said it had reduced staff costs by more than £3m year on year to £10.8m in 2021, after a restructure in the previous financial year to deal with the effects of the pandemic. 

The charity, which was criticised in 2013 after it emerged that it had been holding investments in arms, alcohol and tobacco, said all its investments were ethical and it had not invested in fossil fuel extraction companies since 2017. 

It said that after selling off a proportion of investments in 2019/20 because of the stock market crash caused by the pandemic, it had returned a £7m profit in 2020/21. 

The charity reiterated its commitment to modernise and update appeal films and had produced films from Kenya, India and South Africa using entirely locally-based crews with local people leading the films in front of the camera.

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