IRISH Olympic gold medallist and vice-president of the RNLI, Dr Ronnie Delany, has urged existing supporters of the RNLI and potential new ones to ‘opt-in’ to the charity as it undergoes a major change to how it will communicate with supporters.
From January, the RNLI will be the first major charity to move to an opt-in only approach for communicating with its supporters. This means people will have to choose to be contacted by the RNLI rather than ‘opt-out’ if they receive unsolicited correspondence.
‘Charities should be aspiring to best practice,’ explained Ronnie. ‘I have been proud to be associated with the RNLI for over forty years. Being born near the first RNLI lifeboat station established in Ireland, at Arklow, I know how important the work of the RNLI is in saving lives both on the water and through education and prevention. If we are to have the trust and support of the public then we need to be responsible in how we secure it and how we repay it.’
‘Restricting our direct communications to people who have told us they want to hear about the work of the RNLI and support us in saving lives is the responsible thing to do,’ he added. ‘However we now need those supporters to tell us how that they want to keep in touch. In this way we can share the RNLI’s stories about incredible rescues, appeals for lifeboats and equipment or safety information that saves lives. I would urge everyone who wants to support the RNLI in their work to ‘opt-in.’
Calling on RNLI supporters and people interested in the work of the charity, Baltimore coxswain Kieran Cotter commented: ‘Along with all RNLI volunteer crew members I value the trust our supporters have in us – without them we wouldn’t have the funds to pay for lifeboats, crew kit or training, all of which helps us to save lives. When supporters ‘opt in to the RNLI’, it means they are agreeing to receive communications from the charity, to hear about the rescues we carry out. As they share these stories with friends and family, support for the charity grows .’
From January 2017 the RNLI won’t be able to contact any of its current supporters or anyone else unless they’ve responded by opting themselves in.
The RNLI provides a 24-hour search and rescue service around the Ireland and the UK. It operates 45 lifeboat stations around Ireland. The RNLI is independent of the Coast Guard and government, and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 140,000 lives.