THE Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has issued an urgent reminder to people in Hampshire to “opt in” to receive communications from the lifesaving charity before a new approach is adopted next year.

From January 1, the RNLI will be the first major charity to move to a new approach for communicating with its supporters – unless they give their express permission to receive letters, e-mails or phone calls, the RNLI will not able to contact them again.

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

Made in October 2015, the decision 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 implement this.

The RNLI has the greatest respect for supporters, from volunteer lifeboat crews and community fundraisers to the public who respond to appeals. When stories appeared in the national media 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 sea-bound lifesavers.

Aaron Gent, helm at Portsmouth RNLI lifeboat station, said: “From January 1, 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 900,000 people we currently contact.

“I would urge all those who value what we do to take a moment to tick the box online at So far, more than 400,000 people have reaffirmed their support by doing this, which is fantastic.”

TV personality and long-time RNLI supporter Ben Fogle is supporting the charity’s move to contact only opted-in supporters and features in a compelling short film sharing the story of a daring rescue at sea.

Ben said: “I feel honoured to share the incredible rescue story of a man who got into trouble when out at sea windsurfing this summer. Simon had almost given up hope when he was heroically rescued by the RNLI. His wife wrote a heartfelt letter expressing her thanks to the charity for saving his life, helping him to live to see one of his daughters get married, and also to meet his first grandchild, due shortly after he was rescued.

“Telling a story is a simple act, but sharing the lifesaving stories of the RNLI can in turn save lives. Why? They help spread the word about the amazing work of RNLI volunteer crews around our coasts, and help recruit new supporters to the charity.”

Mr Gent continued: “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 grows. It’s always been this way, and it has never been more important.”

To opt in, visit or call the RNLI’s supporter care team on 0300 300 9918.