RNLI: stand behind these men’ press ad

Exhibited by
Ian Ventham.
September 28, 2009
Medium of Communication
Press advertising
Target Audience
Individuals, single gift
Type of Charity
Community & social services, public / society benefit.
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

Even though this example from the RNLI of fundraising off-the-page appeared a long time after Dr Barnardo’s moving letters it did pre-date the famous Oxfam ads by several years. The message is simple and direct – it tells who the RNLI is, what it does, and gets straight to the point by asking what the reader will contribute. It also uses a photograph of a crew member at the top of the page – a tradition that continues today.

Creator / originator


Summary / objectives

The RNLI saves lives at sea by providing a 24-hour lifesaving service around the UK and Ireland. In 2007, RNLI lifeboats rescued more than 8,000 people, an average of 22 people per day. RNLI lifeguards patrol more than 70 beaches in the UK in peak season and help up to 10,000 people annually. RNLI is also involved in safety and prevention and aims to save lives each year by changing attitudes and behaviour among people who use the sea regularly.

The ‘Stand behind these men’ press ad aimed to solicit donations.


The impression most people have is that modern charity direct marketing through off-the-page advertising for fundraising began with Oxfam after World War Two and yet here is a – admittedly very unsophisticated – press ad that appeared in The Times as early as 1939.


This is an early example of press advertising and a further reminder that charity fundraising has been with us for a long time.

Other relevant information

Scanned from The Times dated Monday 12 June 1939.