The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea. Powered primarily by kind donations, our search and rescue service has been saving lives for nearly 200 years. Here you can find out more about who we are, what we do and how with your support, we can move closer to a world where no one drowns.
What does RNLI stand for?
RNLI stands for Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
What does RNLI mean?
The RNLI was actually founded as the Royal National Institution for the Preservation of Lives and Property from Shipwreck in 1824. Thirty years later in 1854, we changed our name to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution - the RNLI - as we are known today.
Having Royal patronage gives gravitas to our cause and is something we’re incredibly proud of and thankful for.
It was our founder, Sir William Hillary’s, aim to provide a 24/7 search and rescue lifeboat service run, where possible, by volunteers and funded by voluntary donations.
Although the service was to be a national service to protect the coasts of the UK and Ireland, Hillary’s vision was to ‘extend its beneficial effects to the most distant shores, and to generations yet unborn.’
Who are the RNLI?
We are a charity founded upon and driven by our values of selflessness, courage, dependability and trustworthiness, with volunteers at our heart. Values shared by generations of supporters like you who have powered our lifesaving work through your kindness and generosity for almost 200 years.
Volunteers make up 95% of our organisation - ordinary people doing extraordinary things - supported by expert staff, all working together to help communities at home and abroad save lives.
What is the RNLI?
With our wealth of experience and expertise, we are proud to be a world-leading modern emergency service, separate from the coastguard and independent from government.
What does the RNLI do?
Every day of every year, people of all backgrounds get into danger in the water. It’s a problem that we’re here to tackle.
Today, with your support, we are working harder than ever to end preventable drowning. In addition to our 24/7 search and rescue lifeboat service, we operate a seasonal lifeguard service. Every year, our volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards help and rescue thousands of people and have saved over 143,900 lives since 1824. Countless more lives are saved through our youth education and water safety work.
In an ideal world, no one would suffer the devastating loss of a loved one to drowning. We’d reach everyone with our water safety advice. If anyone got into trouble, they’d know what to do until help arrived. And our lifesavers would always have everything they need to reach them in time and save lives.
With you by our side, we can move closer to this world.
How you can help
Like the sea, the life of an RNLI crew member is unpredictable. They never know who will need rescuing next. What they are certain of though, is that even one life lost is too many.
Our brave volunteers don’t launch into daunting seas to save most people – they’re set on saving every one.
When our crews race from one rescue to the next, they depend on their kit and training – the things that kind people like you help provide. When you give to one of our appeals, your gift could help to buy the crucial seconds that save a life.