RNLI sees rise in donations amid petition to remove its charitable status 

21 Apr 2023 News

RNLI Portrush crew member. Credit Nigel Millard.

The RNLI saw a spike in individual donations last week in response to a petition to remove its charitable status. 

Created by Britain First on Wednesday last week, the petition has amassed more than 80,000 signatures and is called Remove RNLI Charity Status to Stop Them Trafficking Illegal Immigrants.

The political party’s Twitter account posted the petition with the caption: “With illegal immigration across the channel spiralling out of control, the RNLI is abusing its charity status to help ferry migrants to our shores.”

Many commented on Britain First’s petition link saying it had prompted them to donate to the charity as opposed to criticise it, with some posting screenshots of one-off donations.  

RNLI told Civil Society it saw a “moderate increase” in its online donations last week compared to the previous one but said it was “unable to attribute that to any factor”. 

Reverse trolling

One Twitter user commented underneath Britain First’s post: “You’re doing brilliant advertising for them, I’ve just donated.”

Another remarked: “Set my direct debit up yesterday, thanks to your post”. 

This is not the first time the charity has seen a spike in giving in response to backlash on social media, which is sometimes called reverse trolling. 

In 2021, the charity raised £200,000 in 24 hours after responding to Nigel Farage's comments that accused it of being a “taxi service” for illegal immigrants. 

‘We are aware of the petition’

A spokesperson for the RNLI said: “The kindness of our supporters is something we never take for granted and we are always incredibly grateful for the donations we receive to enable the RNLI to continue saving lives at sea. 
“Our online donations normally fluctuate week to week and throughout the year. We saw a moderate increase in donations last week compared to the previous week, although we are unable to attribute that to any one factor.
“We are aware of an online petition. Everyone at the RNLI remains focused on our core purpose of saving lives at sea.”

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