Rise in RNLI online donations following negative press coverage

The charity has seen an increase of online support and donations following criticism in two national newspapers over the weekend over its overseas spending to prevent drowning globally.

Joe Lepper | 17th Sep 19

The RNLI has boosted its online donations as it battles negative newspaper stories criticising its life saving work abroad.

The charity also made available a robust defence of its overseas work online and via social media after The Times and Mail On Sunday ran stories that contained criticism of its overseas projects while it is facing financial challenges in the UK.

One supporter said on Twitter that he had been “spurred” to donate due to the negative press.

Another who donated as a result of the publicity apologised for not giving more.

Mental health expert and radio agony aunt Niamh Fitzpatrick is another who took to social media to support the charity against criticism of its overseas support.

The RNLI has thanked those who have donated and sent messages of support online following the negative publicity raised by the Mail on Sunday and The Times. It has also used social media to provide a link to the charity’s online donation web page.


However, some responses via Twitter indicate that the charity has also lost some support due to the revelations around its overseas spending.

During the summer the RNLI revealed a £28.6 fall in resources in 2018 due to what its annual report called “a challenging year” most notably through a reduction in legacy and investment income. Action being taken by the charity includes cutting a number of UK staff jobs.

The Mail On Sunday article was particularly critical of the charity for spending money on projects abroad, such as aid in Tanzania and Bangladesh.

But in a robust online defence of its overseas spending the charity explains how it gives less than 2% of its total annual expenditure on activity to prevent drowning globally.

> See also: RNLI plots major IT revamp

“The RNLI’s priority is to provide the very best search and rescue service in the UK and Ireland, but we are also proud to use our expertise, knowledge and influence to help others save lives across the world, particularly in countries where drowning rates are high,” states the charity’s response.

“Our founder, Sir William Hillary, had the vision that we ‘should extend our views [of drowning prevention] from our own immediate coasts, to the most remote quarters of the globe, and to every neighbouring state’. This remains relevant today.”

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