RNLI: train one, save many campaign

Exhibited by
July 24, 2012
Medium of Communication
Direct mail, door-drops and householders, event, face to face, grant application, inserts, online, posters, press advertising, publications, press publicity
Target Audience
Awareness, individuals, in memoriam, legacy, major gift, planned gift, regular gift, single gift, social change campaign, volunteering, corporations, granting organisations
Type of Charity
Community & social services
Country of Origin
Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom
Date of first appearance
June, 2005

SOFII’s view

What a great offer: train just one person and you could be saving the lives of many. The UK’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has never forgotten that their donors support them for no other reason than their profound admiration for the heroism and self-sacrifice of lifeboat men and women, so they are bound to respond to the chance to train one of these brave souls who put their own lives at risk to save the lives of others in peril on the sea.

SOFII is happy also to hear about another charity that united all its different teams behind a fundraising campaign.

RNLI developed the idea, the agency Proximity did the design and strapline development.

Name of exhibitor


To conduct a £10m fundraising appeal to pull together all teams, supporters and volunteers in a common, charity-wide call to action. The aim was to help offset the cost of training the volunteer lifeboat crew members of the RNLI during a five-year period. Training is crucial to ensure these key people can save lives at sea.


The RNLI had never run a national campaign before the ‘train one, save many’ campaign was established to focus on the main reason people support the charity: the brave volunteer lifeboat crews. Whilst local appeals for individual lifeboat stations, equipment, or lifeboats had been run before, a single, simple, themed case for support had not been used to pull all together behind the cause.

Special characteristics

A simple but powerful theme, message, image and call to action. RNLI supporters are known for being proud of the values of the individual volunteer crew members as the lead reason to support the charity. Keeping the case for support close to the main reason for support, helped to closely link the campaign to all fundraising activity.

Influence / impact

The campaign was very well received both internally and externally. It pulled all RNLI teams across all departments together and provided a strong local, regional, or national ask element. The £10 million target was reached two years early and the theme and message were adopted as a permanent call to action. The appeal actually raised in excess of £14.7 million.


The response to the mailing was higher than any other cause in RNLI history and the impact on local community fundraising and positive internal engagement ensured everyone was working behind a common, simple and direct cause. The use of a clear strapline and simple brand image created a sense of pride in a new and exciting project.


Expenditure was approximately 10 to 15 per cent of overall planned appeal income.


The RNLI train one, save many campaign used a simple, clear call to action, using the key reason people support the charity, to pull all behind the funding needs for their recipients: the brave volunteer lifeboat crew. It worked well and exceeded its target both for new fundraising income and also by getting everybody behind a clear call to action. The campaign brand was used well and co-ordinated across all material during the period and raised significant external awareness of the charity.

Simple use of a clear, direct campaign brand that could be easily identified was key to the success of the appeal.

Follow-up to the project

The campaign was embedded as a permanent case for support within the RNLI.

The first ever £10,000,000 appeal in RNLI history, hit target two years early. Results achieved due to great internal communications, appeal management and a positive approach to making a real difference to real training costs at a local, regional and national level.

View original image
The emotive image of an RNLI crew member holding the hands of the people he rescues brought the case for support to life.
View original image
The train one, save many logo replicated the emotive image and was used across all RNLI materials over the life of the campaign.