The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has just announced that it is to test accepting donations by Bitcoin. It now claims to be “the first major charity in the UK or Ireland to accept Bitcoin”. Leesa Harwood, the RNLI Deputy Director of Fundraising and Communications, explained that it is her belief that:
“The RNLI has a history of innovation in fundraising, holding the first street collection in 1891. Bitcoin is an innovative new kind of currency and we believe that accepting Bitcoin will result in donations we may not otherwise receive, as well as connecting us with new types of supporters.”
The RNLI has chosen to receive Bitcoin donations via a dedicated page (RNLI.org/Bitcoin). The charity says that if the scheme is successful it may look at integrating Bitcoin into its standard donation pages. Ms. Harwood went on to say:
“From our research into future trends, it looked likely that we would receive digital currency as a donation or as part of a legacy at some point and we wanted to be prepared for that eventuality. So a project team was founded to look at the feasibility of accepting Bitcoin, which has led to the pilot scheme we are launching today”.
“We want to lead the way in accepting and benefiting from all forms of digital currency, so we’re running this scheme to allow our supporters to donate Bitcoins through a secure online system. We’ve chosen Bitcoin as it is an established and widely recognised digital currency. This is a pilot scheme and we are looking forward to seeing how it will proceed as part of our interest in cryptocurrencies and how they may work in the future. We will of course closely monitor how much money is donated. We already have safeguards in place to monitor donations, however we receive them.”
Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. RNLI volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland from 236 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI has always relied on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity, it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, their lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
The trial is on the RNLI’s main website only. There are no plans at present to accept Bitcoin in any RNLI shops, museums, online at RNLIshop.org or at the RNLI college.