The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is on track to record its highest annual fundraising total in its near 200-year history, according to reports.
Donations have rocketed following a series of right-wing attacks on the charity for its efforts saving the lives of asylum seekers at risk of drowning in the Channel.
Nigel Farage has been chief among the charity’s critics of late, but even he cut a frustrated figure last year after he was forced to confront the fact that his angry outbursts had fuelled a surge in donations.
He said: “All the hard left are the ones saying ‘we must crowdfund, we must help, we must buy a new lifeboat and name it after Farage’ and all the rest of it.
“Well, even if £200,000 has been raised since this so-called row began, it doesn’t really help very much because the daily running cost is £440,000.”
There was also a surge in support after lifeboat crew were blocked from going out to sea by people angry at them rescuing refugees.
The RNLI said it has received a significant increase in support this year, with online donations rising by 50 per cent.
Jayne George, the RNLI’s fundraising director, said that the hostility shown from right-wing figutrs appeared to have had the opposite effect to what its architects would have wanted.
“We’ve had a better response to almost everything that we’ve done in 2021. At the end of the year, we’re going to have more members, we’re going to have more cash donors and more people who give to us via direct debit,” she said.
George added that the charity’s database of supporters had also grown appreciably, with the organisation now in regular contact with 300,000 people.
“We can’t help but notice that it’s a really divisive issue that’s in the news almost daily. Whatever the negatives, the positive is that it brings out this significant reaction in terms of people wanting to support us, particularly our work in the eastern Channel,” she said.
George added that the boom in staycations during the pandemic meant more people were exposed to its work than usual: 2020 was one of the charity’s busiest on record, with 8,239 lifeboat launches that assisted 8,374 people and saved 239 lives.