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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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RNLI drops “opt-in” policy as donations fall

This news post is over 2 years old

The charity moved to a system of only contacting people who had actively given consent two years ago, but is now facing funding challenges

A charity has reversed its opt-in marketing policy after a fall in donations.

RNLI took the bold decision for an opt-in only approach, meaning it got in touch with all its supporters and asked them if they were happy to continue to be contacted, in 2017.

However the organisation has said it will now rely on a system of “legitimate interest” as it looks to increase funds.

The charity has faced a challenging period, with the change in policy costing it millions of pounds and announcing last month that it faced cutting up to 135 jobs.

The RNLI announced in 2015 that, from 1 January 2017, it would contact people by phone, post or email only if they had actively given their consent.

The move came after the fundraising scandals of 2015 and pre-empted the arrival of the General Data Protection Regulation, a stricter set of data protection rules that came into force in May 2018.

But under the GDPR organisations can also use legitimate interest to contact people by post and phone for marketing and fundraising purposes, if the person can reasonably expect the organisation to do so.

Prior to adopting so-called opt-in, the RNLI had a database of two million supporters, which fell to 500,000 by 2018.

Jayne George fundraising director at RNLI, said the move was aimed at creating better engagement with supporters.

She said: “The difference from where we were this time last year is that we want to grow the database of engaged supporters.

“We’ve got a good foundation, we’ve got half a million really committed supporters on the database, and the plan this year is to grow that number.”



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