RNLI launches appeal to tackle 'perfect storm' of falling income and rising costs

The lifeboat charity, which has suffered from falling income and rising costs, hopes to raise £1.8m and recruit 12,000 new supporters

The lifeboat charity the RNLI has announced a major fundraising campaign in the face of a "perfect storm" of rising demand and falling income.

The charity’s Perfect Storm campaign, which was launched this week to replace its usual Christmas appeal, aims to raise £1.8m and recruit 12,000 new supporters.

In August, Mark Dowie, chief executive of the RNLI, warned that the charity would have to cut costs and fundraise more efficiently after the charity’s latest accounts showed that income had fallen by £7.2m in 2018 and rising costs meant the charity had £28.6m less to spend on charitable activities than in the previous year.

The following month, the charity announced plans to cut 135 jobs.

The latest appeal will include letters and emails to all existing RNLI supporters and another 5.7 million households, as well as the charity’s first DRTV advertising campaign in more than a decade.

Jayne George, director of fundraising at the RNLI, said: "The RNLI is facing some big challenges: we’re busier than ever, people are still drowning, but our income is down, so we’re facing our own perfect storm, and we are appealing to our supporters and the public to give what they can to help us."

She said the campaign was an opportunity to reconnect with supporters as well as attract new ones.

In October the charity announced that it would be abandoning its opt-in-only policy on communicating with potential donors, which it originally adopted in 2017 after the fundraising scandals two years before.

Instead, it will rely on "legitimate interest", which will allow it to contact people by post and telephone for marketing and fundraising purposes, if the person can reasonably expect the organisation to do so.

Geroge said: "This appeal is one part of a range of activity we’re undertaking to get back to living within our means, including looking closely at our work to see where we can make efficiencies and savings. We’re confident we can make savings, but we’re also refocusing our efforts on fundraising."

The appeal will give examples of the type of work the charity needs to fund, including pontoon refurbishment on the Tower Lifeboat Station on the River Thames, lifeboat upgrades at Ilfracombe and Great Yarmouth & Gorleston Lifeboat Stations, and berth replacement at Fleetwood Lifeboat Station, although the funds raised will be unrestricted.

"The RNLI has been saving lives at sea for nearly 200 years, and we hope to be here in another 200 years’ time – but we can only do that with our supporters’ help," said George.

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