Most fun about the independent lifeboats

“We do exactly the same job as the RNLI,” Birch tells me, “but we’re less known.” But if the job expected of them is the same, the challenges of being an independent lifeboat station can be much greater. Birch and his crew of 22 are responsible not only for saving lives, but also for the upkeep of their boat, their equipment, training and raising enough funds to meet their annual running costs. These are about £20,000 a year, excluding renewing equipment, boats and property. They are currently fundraising £160,000 for a new boathouse. As operations manager of Sandown and Shanklin Independent Lifeboat, Birch’s situation requires a range of skills not normally associated with lifesavers, including a constant sales mentality.

The underlying economic point being made is that these independents get crowded out by the RNLI. Fundraising and so on, “We already gave to the RNLI” etc.

Shrug, it’s what happens when there’s a dominant organisation, especially one that’s well funded.

However, the fun in this is that the article is a really impressive example of crowding out. that thing which The Guardian stoutly insists never does happen when government moves into an area.

Ho hum.

12 comments on “Most fun about the independent lifeboats

  1. The question is why don’t they join the RNLI? Is the management really dysfunctional and bullying?

    Or why doesn’t the RNLI kick some cash their way? They are in the life boat business so as long as boats are provided, why do they care who does it?

    Human beings are, as Aristotle said, political animals.

  2. It’s also worth noting the RNLI isn’t a government organisation. My brother is a trustee, and they stoutly resist any efforts to bring them under state control or ownership.

    The bnp had a policy to nationalise them, for example. That went down like a bag of cold sick.

  3. Well, they are at least lucky that the RNLI doesn’t take the same view of independents as the RSPCA, and seeks to shut them down!

  4. “Or why doesn’t the RNLI kick some cash their way?”

    Difficult under charity law, many of the complaints in the article are the result of charity law.

  5. SMFS,

    Do they need to? There’s often a point where scale doesn’t improve organisations. For example, hairdressers. They don’t work any better after half a dozen people.

  6. Generally most ILBs are ex RNLI stations where the RNLI have taken the decision that a station is no longer required. (Blyth, Caister and some others)
    If they joined the RNLI (takeover) then they would inevitably lose their equipment and service. Those who donated to Caister ILB,for example, might be a bit miffed to see that donation go to RNLI kitty and their station closed again.

  7. RNLI is one of the few true charitees in that it doesn’t have CEO’s on 6 figure salaries (cf. Cancer Research).

    All the monies raised by RNLI are spent on RNLI and the lifeboatmen are all volunteers.

  8. > a constant sales mentality

    That’s common in a lot of jobs. Those with cushy government sinecures believe it’s just filthy lucre; and if you were working down the mines from the age of 14 you probably never saw it; but to the rest of us, selling (either our products or our skills) is a regular feature of the modern workplace.

  9. “never does happen when government moves into an area”

    Sorry Tim you’re wrong this time.

    The RNLI takes no government funding, on principle.

    Were it ever not so, I would cease my (fairly generous) donations.

  10. Read what I actually said.

    The RNLI is a well funded organisation, this crowds out some smaller ones.

    The government does similar crowding out when it moves into something….despite the Guardian insisting that never happens with government.

  11. Henry Crun

    RNLI is one of the few true charitees in that it doesn’t have CEO’s on 6 figure salaries (cf. Cancer Research).

    I regard it as a true charity simply in that it doesn’t suck at the government teat in return for political advertising.

    However, and despite its substantial volunteer effort, the CEO does indeed receive a 6 figure salary. Of course, it’s considerably lower than that for a CEO of any comparably sized organisation.

    Page 39:

  12. @PF

    “I regard it as a true charity simply in that it doesn’t suck at the government teat in return for political advertising.”

    RNLI is one of very few “genuine” charities I too respect and support for the same reason.

    Another is The PDSA.

    imho Gov’t “donations” to charities are a poison chalice which corrupt those who accept them.


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