'Idol' Raises Over $60 Million; Sets 'Nothing But Nets' Record

Last week's first-ever "Idol Gives Back" charity special raised more than $60 million for eight charities, Fox reported Thursday, and the pledges were still coming in.

Using its popularity, the singing talent show "American Idol" drew together corporate sponsors and viewers for a two-night donation drive special Apr. 24-25, featuring charities working to help poor children in the United States and Africa.

One of the showcased charities, Nothing But Nets, reported that the donation amount garnered by the single event has set a record – surpassing the $5.5 million the campaign has raised since its launch less than a year ago.

The exact amount is still being determined, said Elizabeth McKee, marketing director of the United Nations Foundation, according to the United Methodist News Service. McKee said the "Idol" donation will be matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

"One of the keys for the church in the future is people finding themselves in places where they don't normally go, so that they can have an opportunity to spread the Gospel," said United Methodist Bishop Thomas Bickerton, president of the church's Commission on Communication, according to the UMNS. And "American Idol" is "a very unlikely place for us to go."

The anti-malaria "Nothing But Nets" campaign raises money to send insecticide-treated nets to Africa with the purpose of preventing mosquito-borne Malaria from infecting children. It is said that the preventable disease kills one child every 30 seconds and over 1 million people a year.

Each net costs $10 including the fee to deliver and have someone train recipient families on how to use it. The organization calls the nets the most cost-effective way to fight the preventable disease that kills 20 percent of African children under the age of five each year.

"Bed nets are the most cost-effective way to protect children from the mosquitoes [that] carry this killer disease," said Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, president of the United Methodist Church's Council of Bishops, in an earlier statement.

"This is an easy, tangible way to make a difference," she said.

"Nothing But Nets" is a partnership that includes the people of The United Methodist Church, the United Nations Foundation, the National Basketball Association's NBA Cares, Sports Illustrated magazine and new partner Major League Soccer's MLS W.O.R.K.S.

Other charities to benefit from "Idol Gives Back" include Save the Children, The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, UNICEF, and Malaria No More.

According to Fox, an updated total of the money raised through last week's two-night "Idol Gives Back" will be announced Tuesday.