RNLI set to lose £35m as it opts out of direct fundraising

Flare-and-lifeboat credit-rnli-nigel-millard

Pic: Nigel Millard

Bold fundraising move by one of the UK's best known charities 

22nd October 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

One of the UK’s leading charities says it will only fundraise from those who have given prior permission, a move that is expected to cost it over £35 million over five years.

Bosses at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) made the move in light of recommendations from the Etherington review and increased scrutiny of fundraising practices over the past year.

It means the national charity will operate an “opt-in” system where individuals will choose to be contacted, rather than its current “opt-out” system where supporters are automatically added to a list on a database unless they request to be removed.

RNLI is the first charity in the UK to make this move which is being hailed as a bold step towards increasing public confidence.

The sea faring organisation, one of the oldest in the country, forecasts a £35.6m loss of income over five years, with an estimated £11m loss next year.

Leesa Harwood, RNLI's fundraising director, said: “The RNLI is making this change because we believe it’s the right thing to do – we’re lucky to be a well-respected and well supported charity and we need to make sure that respect is mutual and our supporters’ trust is well placed.

We’ve always prided ourselves on our ethical approach to fundraising and the RNLI has been investigating how to reduce its reliance on direct marketing since late last year.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on our ethical approach to fundraising and the RNLI has been investigating how to reduce its reliance on direct marketing since late last year.

"Events such as the tragic death of Olive Cooke have made it clear that this kind of change is overdue so we’ve accelerated our move to an opt-in fundraising system.”

At the same time the charity said the loss would not compromise its services and would shoulder the shortfall by dipping into its reserves which currently sit at £97m.

“We’ve been investigating a change to our fundraising practices over the last 12 months, and maintaining our lifesaving service is our top priority. All of our planning has taken this into account.

“As an emergency service and charity, we have a responsibility to make sure we have reserves in place that will keep the service going during times of significant change.

"This means we are able to use funds from our reserves to mitigate the initial financial impact. Longer term, we have developed various plans to help reduce and ultimately mitigate the loss of income to ensure that we continue to save lives at sea.”

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