Revenue from legacy donations has fallen from £78 million to £68 million this year, and the charity expects to register a similar decline in 2003.
The RNLI currently relies on legacy income to bring in around two-thirds of its annual income. David Brann, the organisation's new director of fundraising and communications, said all efforts would now be poured into discovering alternative avenues of funding to help boost the charity's annual income from £90 million to £115 million by 2007.
"We're really being forced to reconsider our current fundraising strategy," he said. "The current problem for charities like us that rely too heavily on legacy income is that the landscape of charitable will bequests is changing.
"Although statistically the same proportion of the public are leaving money to charity, instead of leaving the whole amount to one organisation they are choosing to split the same cash between three or four different bodies," he explained.
Brann said that the fundraising and communications department, created through the merger of the fundraising and marketing division with the public relations department earlier this year, was "100 per cent focused" on increasing the charity's membership base.
The RNLI intends to roll out emphasis elements of its work such as its public safety and beach lifeguard schemes in order to appeal to a wider audience.
"I think we're in a strong position to start branching out to people who may not have considered supporting us," said Brann. "We're working towards ways of making our work as relevant as possible to the widest number of people."
Younger supporters could be drawn to the charity through a targeted events programme that would work on discovering how young people want to interact with the RNLI.
New channels such as mobile phone text messaging could be used to help increase voluntary income, and the charity is also developing volunteer face-to-face fundraising schemes. However, Brann said that the majority of activity would continue to be the ongoing direct mail drives.
Under Brann, the charity will try to have donors interacting with one point of contact who could provide all relevant information about different aspects of the RNLI's fundraising work, instead of being contacted by multiple departments.