Every year, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) provides the frontline response to thousands of emergencies in the dangerous waters around the UK and Ireland. As a charity, it is almost entirely dependent on donations and legacies to ensure it receives the necessary level of income to support these lifesaving services. Against the backdrop of a fundamental online shift in donor behaviour, and in the context of an increasingly competitive landscape for charitable giving, the RNLI decided to embark on a major transformation programme. The aim was to put digital at the core of its fundraising future, and Yoyo was tasked with leading this change.
A better digital experience
The redevelopment of the main RNLI website was at the centre of the RNLI’s Digital Transformation Strategy. Built on an inflexible, template-driven CMS and cluttered with content, significant changes were required for it to become a focal point for all digital activity and a fitting platform to showcase the strengths of the RNLI brand. Our brief was to create a site that had real impact among new and existing supporters while also simplifying the content creation and management process for site administrators.
Inspired by the charity's vision, its brand values and the stories from supporters and lifeguards.
Keeping a number of significant work streams on track
With dozens of moving parts and many stakeholders involved, the RNLI.org redevelopment project required an agile approach and open lines of communication.
- Re-platforming: We selected Sitecore as the ideal CMS for RNLI. It gave them an extremely flexible, enterprise-level platform to consolidate back-end activity across the main site and various microsites.
- Creative: We undertook a thorough design refresh, validating all creative concepts with external user-testing to ensure they resonated with the target audience.
- Third-party content: We had to manage integration with multiple feeds, including lifeboat launches, weather from the Met Office, and tidal information. Many sources were unconfirmed when the project commenced, making it important to manage risk and move them into as early a sprint as possible.
With online fundraising ever-more important to the RNLI, optimising the donation process was a key part of the site redevelopment. We worked on the user journey to minimise the number of steps involved and ensured the experience was consistent across devices from initial message to payment processing. At the back-end, the donation process required integration with RNLI’s third-party form provider Qbase, which pushes user data through to be recorded in its CRM system.
Digital direction for the RNLI roadmap
As lead digital agency, we have helped deliver multiple fundraising campaigns while providing ongoing insight, ideas and strategic support for the wider Digital Transformation Strategy.
A tool that delivers clear ROI
The Shannon, an online campaign to raise funds for a new lifeboat, enabling donors to put their own name forward to appear on the boat. The results:
- £1.6m raised in donations – 14% over target
- 183% increase in online donations year-on-year
- 14% response rate
Respect the Water, a high-profile summer campaign that provides information about the dangers of water, targeting the difficult-to-reach demographic of 16 to 39-year-old men – the group most at risk from drowning. The results:
- 400,000+ microsite visitors attracted
- 80% of people exposed to the campaign would take more precautions near the water
Building up the digital capabilities of the internal team was a key requirement for the RNLI, giving them the in-house skills to respond quickly to new opportunities. To support this, we have recently developed a creative toolkit containing a series of core website modules so that websites can be spun up quickly without external support.