Light bulb moment: Paul Boissier on how one man's generosity helped the RNLI's efficiency campaign

A key insight into the working life of the chief executive of the lifeboat charity

Paul Boissier
Paul Boissier

A few months after I took the job in 2009, I'd been visiting different lifeboat stations across the country to get to know the people and some of the issues they faced. I remember I was at Redcar lifeboat station in north-east England, chatting to one of the crew members outside the station, where there was a lifeboat-shaped collection box.

As we were talking that day, an elderly gentleman walked by, said good morning to us, put 50p in the collection box and walked on. The crew member told me that this man did the same thing every week, even though he'd been unemployed for many years and was now a pensioner.

I thought about how impressive it was that he donated what was for him a significant part of his weekly income, and how he must have really valued the work of the RNLI. It made me realise the importance of the emotional connection between charities and their local communities.

I took away a deeper realisation of how important our role is as custodians of donated income, and how I must never lose sight of that responsibility. The money we receive must be used in the best way possible. This recognition helped me put into practice the RNLI's efficiency campaign, which has significantly cut our operating costs - and we've been able to reinvest that money in services. Meeting that gentleman in Redcar has helped me to keep in mind that we need to maximise what we do with donations.

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