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.
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.
The RNLI was set up in 1824 after our founder, Sir William Hillary, decided to take action to try and stop the loss of life to shipwreck around our coasts. Since then, over 143,000 lives have been saved. Take a look back through our history and read some of the incredible tales of courage that are a key part of who we are as a charity.
1824 The year the RNLI was founded
95% of RNLI people are volunteers
143,900+ lives saved since formation
408 lives saved in 2021
How the RNLI is run
The RNLI relies on thousands of dedicated volunteers to run our lifesaving service. Separate from the coastguard and independent of government, we are a charity with one aim – to save every one.
Trustworthy, courageous, dedicated. The RNLI is made up of dedicated people who are working to make the waters around the UK and Ireland a safer place. From the volunteers who launch and crew the lifeboats, run the shops and raise funds, to the staff who support them, we are working as one crew to save lives at sea.