Change will cost lifeboat service £35m

Fleetwood lifeboat William Street
Fleetwood lifeboat William Street
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Lifeboat chiefs are to change the way they fundraise in a move which will cost the charity £35.6m over five years.

But the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which is acting in the wake of criticism of charities putting too much pressure on people to donate, says the change will not affect its life-saving service including its three stations on the Fylde coast.

Blackpool, Fleetwood and Lytham St Annes lifeboat stations all rely on fundraising.

From 2017, the RNLI will only contact individuals who have expressly given their permission for the charity to contact them by ‘opting in’.

The charity will meet the shortfall from its reserves of nearly £97m and set out a new long-term fundraising strategy.

Leesa Harwood, RNLI’s fundraising director, said: “The RNLI is making this change because we believe it’s the right thing to do.”

She added: “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.”

Former Fylde Mayor Kevin Eastham, who raised £5,542 for the RNLI during his mayoral year in 2014/15, welcomed the change.

He said: “The RNLI is a great institution and it does need supporting. I chose it as one of my mayoral charities because it involves a lot of young people.

“I wouldn’t like to be consistently pestered for money, but if someone is giving on an annual basis it is better to be contacted every year and that wouldn’t upset me.

“The RNLI does save lives, and I know a lot of people on the Fylde coast support it.”

The ‘opt-in’ system is where individuals choose to be contacted, rather than an ‘opt-out’ system where supporters are automatically added to a list on a database unless they expressly opt out.