Our philosophy

The RNLI philosophy remains the same as it was in 1824: to provide our lifesaving service using volunteers wherever possible, with voluntary donations supplying the funds needed to do so.
Group shot of RNLI crew members

Photo: Nigel Millard

The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea

We provide, on call, a 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue service and a seasonal lifeguard service. Our values reflect the way we do business as an organisation.

Our purpose

The RNLI saves lives at sea.

Our vision

To end preventable loss of life at sea.

Our values

Our work is founded upon, and driven by, our values. Our volunteers and staff strive for excellence and are expected to be:


Accountable and efficient in the use of the donations entrusted to us by our supporters, managing our affairs with transparency, integrity and impartiality. Responsible for our own safety and dedicated to the safety of others.


Prepared to achieve our aims in changing and challenging environments. We are innovative, adaptable and determined in our mission to save lives at sea.


Willing to put the requirements of others before our own and the needs of the team before the individual. Able to see the bigger picture and act in the best interests of the RNLI, and to be inclusive and respectful of others. Prepared to share our expertise with organisations that share our aims.


Always available, committed to doing our part in saving lives with professionalism and expertise, continuously developing and improving. Working in and for the community, we deliver on our promises.

Things we will not change

In support of these values, our core principles will guide us in delivering our lifesaving service, now and in the future.

Volunteer ethos

Our lifesaving service is provided wherever possible by volunteers, generously supported by voluntary donations and legacies.

Community-based, with the support of a major charity

Our strength lies in operating through local teams, centrally directed and resourced.

Every life matters

We value every life and look to prevent loss of life, whoever it may be and wherever they may be in trouble.

Safety, Health and Environment

Our safety culture is of paramount importance to everything we do.

Maritime expertise

Our exceptional expertise is in the preservation of life at sea and on the water through rescue, together with the delivery of coordinated safety and education programmes.

Independence of thought

We will not seek funding from central government if this could jeopardise our independence.

Our role as bridge-builder

We always work to identify, grow and maintain effective partnerships and coalitions to further the cause of the wider lifesaving community.

Striving for excellence and innovation

We believe in constantly looking for better ways of delivering what we do, embracing new technologies and ideas.


We are proud of our history, the affection in which people hold our traditions, and the RNLI’s achievement of saving lives over nearly two centuries.

We are the RNLI: the charity that saves lives at sea.

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.

We’re here to explain the risks, share safety knowledge, and rescue people whose lives are in danger.

We’re here to work with others to make the water a safer place for everyone.

We’re here to prevent tragedies on and offshore. And with your support, we always will be.

Services in 2017

8,436 lifeboat launches average 23 a day

431 lives saved by RNLI lifeboat crew

8,072 people rescued by RNLI lifeboats average 22 a day

15,554 incidents attended by RNLI lifeguards

84 lives saved by RNLI lifeguards

24,044 people aided by RNLI lifeguards