RNLI moves to ‘opt-in’ system

The RNLI is changing the way it contacts people.
The RNLI is changing the way it contacts people.

From 1 January 2017, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) will be the first major charity to move to an opt-in only approach for communicating with its supporters.

The charity will then ‘close the doors’ on its current supporter database, only contacting those who have expressly given permission to be contacted.

The charity’s decision, made in October 2015, to stop communicating directly with supporters without permission, applies to all forms of communication, not just fundraising appeals, and to all methods of contacting supporters. The RNLI will be the first major charity to operate in this way.

The RNLI has the greatest respect for supporters, from volunteer lifeboat crews and community fundraisers, to the public who respond to appeals.

When media stories appeared highlighting issues around the ways in which charities contact supporters, the RNLI decided to strengthen its already strict procedures and pledged only to contact people who wish to hear from the lifesaving charity.

Rachel Stewart RNLI Community Fundraising Manager said: “From 1 January 2017, we won’t contact any of our current supporters unless they’ve responded to us and opted themselves in. This means we could lose touch with hundreds of thousands of the 900k people we currently contact. I’d urge all those who value what we do to take a moment to “tick the box” online at rnli.org/savelives. So far over 400,000 people have reaffirmed their support and done so, which is fantastic.

“When supporters opt in to the RNLI, it means we won’t lose touch with them and they’ll continue to hear about the rescues we carry out. As they share these stories with friends and family, support for the charity grows2 – it’s always been this way, and it has never been more important.”

In summer 2016, the RNLI asked more than 700 of their supporters about the impact rescue stories have. Almost three quarters (74%) revealed that it was hearing rescue stories that helped motivate them to become supporters and 70% believe they have helped encourage others to start supporting the RNLI by sharing rescue stories.