RNLI has seen its resources fall by £28.6m at a time when it has had its busiest ever period, in what its new chief executive has described a “challenging” year.
The charity had a £6.5m deficit between its income and its charitable spend last year. Its recently appointed chief executive, Mark Dowie, is now looking at how savings can be made without compromising services.
According to RNLI's annual accounts for the year to 31 December 2018, the RNLI had consolidated net assets of £709m and held £125m in free reserves.
Fall in legacy income
Legacy income fell by £8.5m to £122.5m, although donations and trading remained stable.
It is the first time that RNLI's legacy income has fallen in five years, and the accounts said this is expected to be a “short-term” issue. “Executors are struggling to sell properties in the current climate, and estates are taking longer to process with increasing complexities in finalising estates,” they say.
RNLI recently appointed a new fundraising director, Jane George, who is exploring ways to raise money.
Fall in value of investments
The value of the charity's investments fell by £10.1m and it is currently conducting a review of its investment policy.
The accounts state: “2018 was a difficult year in the world of investments, with nearly all markets in negative territory – especially in the final three months – and the RNLI experienced falls across all areas of its portfolio except for property.”
Despite this, Dowie says the charity had its “busiest” year.
Lifeboat crews helped 9,412 people, up from 8,072 the previous year. And lifeguards helped 32,207 in 2018, up from 24,044 in 2017.
RNLI says that together this saved 329 lives, up from 248 the previous year.
The end result was that spending on charitable activities increased by £4.5m to £163.5m.
‘We must live within our means’
Dowie told Civil Society News that he now plans to look at all areas of the charity's operations and fundraising to see what efficiencies can be made.
“Those sorts of numbers need to be dealt with,” he said. “The task is to ensure that we continue to run a world class service in a sustainable way and live within our means”.
He has ruled out closing any lifeboat stations, but said that he will be looking at all areas of the charity's operations.