Following a strategic review of grants with the independent consultancy McKinsey during 2004, a new series of grants programmes has emerged with greater focus and clarity around fewer causes.
More than £20m has been allocated to UK projects and at least £30m will go to initiatives in Africa, with no upper limit on UK grants for the first time.
The charity has been making grants for 20 years and held 10 Red Nose Days. The trustees were keen to have an external perspective on grant-making, which McKinsey carried out through its pro bono programme at no cost to the charity.
Although it was originally focused on Africa, Comic Relief now works with organisations tackling disadvantage in the UK and, since 2002, supports people in Asia and Latin America through Sport Relief.
The African grants programme areas are: women and girls; people affected by HIV and Aids; people living in urban slums; people affected by conflict; and trade. A sixth initiative is for street and working children projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and includes Sport Relief funding.
In the UK, the six programme areas aim to fund charities that help groups facing disadvantage, or those that find it hard to get funding elsewhere.
The six areas are: young people experiencing problems with alcohol, mental health or prostitution; older people; refugees and asylum seekers; mental health; disadvantaged communities; and domestic violence.
Gilly Green, head of UK grants at Comic Relief, said: "The public has shown enormous generosity, and we want the money to make the biggest difference possible.
"This is why we are taking a more focused approach to our grant-making, funding work under six programme areas where we believe we can make a contribution."
Comic Relief has already started talking to a range of voluntary sector organisations about the new grants programmes, including a few initiatives in which Comic Relief wants to develop particular pieces of work.
The first deadline for UK grants is 9 September 2005, and for international grants 16 September 2005.