RNLI reports 2,000 per cent rise in donations as a backlash against criticism

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has reported a 2,000 per cent increase in donations in just 24 hours after a video of its volunteers rescuing migrants in the English Channel went viral.

The search and rescue charity released the video across its social media channels on Tuesday.

It quickly clocked up more than 150,000 engagements and about 2.5 million views. The charity said that as a result, donations and volunteer inquiries had flooded in.

It follows an incident last weekend where its volunteers were reportedly subjected to abuse by members of the public after criticism from people including the former UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

The seven-time failed parliamentary candidate had accused the charity of being “a taxi service for illegal immigration”.

But the charity hit back at its critics.

Mark Dowie, chief executive of the RNLI, said: “All decent people will see this as humanitarian work of the highest order.”

The charity said in the 24 hours following the release of the video about its work in the English Channel, it had received donations of more than £200,000 – a 2,000 per cent increase on the previous day.

It also reported a 270 per cent increase in people viewing volunteering opportunities on its website.

The RNLI said that, on average, it usually attracted donations of between £6,000 and £7,000 a day.

Jayne George, fundraising marketing and media director at the charity, said: “We are overwhelmed with the huge level of support we have received from our amazing supporters in the last couple of days.

“We have seen an uplift in donations, with over £200,000 being donated yesterday alone through a combination of one-off donations, new regular support and supporters increasing their regular donation amount. This is simply incredible.

“This was never a fundraising campaign – we simply wanted to tell the story of our crews and make it clear that our charity exists to save lives at sea. Our mission is to save everyone.”

George admitted that the issue of migrant rescue was polarising and said that a small number of supporters had contacted the charity to withdraw their support.

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