The RNLI provides, on call, a 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue service to 100 nautical miles out from the coast of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. It also provides a seasonal lifeguard service on beaches in the east, south, south west of England and south Wales. The RNLI is independent from the Government and continues to rely on voluntary contributions and legacies for its income.
The RNLI is largely a volunteer organisation. Many thousands of people give their time, skill and commitment so that the RNLI can achieve its purpose of saving life at sea. It is because of the willingness of RNLI volunteers that such a high proportion of the RNLI’s money can be spent on first-class lifeboat and equipment, not on salaries.
In 2007 it cost approximately £123.8m to run the RNLI. For every £1 spent, around 85p went to operations and 15p to generating voluntary income.