On July 28, ex-UKIP leader and current GB News host Nigel Farage attacked the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) – describing them as a “taxi service” for illegal trafficking gangs because they rescue migrants at risk of drowning in the channel.
If his aim was to discredit the charity, it had the opposite effect. Data from YouGov CharityIndex shows that, while negative Buzz scores – which measure whether consumers have heard anything bad about a brand in the past two weeks – rose from 0.7 to 5.3 (+4.6) between July 27 and August 3, positive Buzz scores jumped from 8.7 to 20.2 over the same period (+11.5). Overall, net Buzz scores rose by +6.8 points: from 8.0 to 14.8.
The row also had the effect of improving Impression scores for the RNLI, which started at 40.6, increased to a height of 46.9 by August 1 (+6.3), before falling back down to 43.6. But beyond general perceptions of the charity, the furore has made people more likely to make a donation. The charity claimed that fundraising had significantly increased a day after the Farage row, and our data shows that the proportion who said they had made a donation in the past three months rose from 3.2 to 7.1 (+3.9).
What’s more, the media storm also improved the RNLI’s position relative to other charities. Consideration scores – which ask Britons which organisation they would donate £1 to tomorrow – saw an immediate leap from 31.4 to 38.5 between July 27 and July 30, before settling back at 35.3 by August 3.
The proportion of the public who would advise donating to the RNLI also increased: with Recommend scores rising from 34.3 to a high of 41.5 (+7.2) by August 2, falling slightly the next day (39.3).
In a sector where many organisations court celebrity patrons, the maritime rescue charity has significantly benefited from one high-profile individual’s disapproval. Farage’s condemnation of the RNLI appears to have improved its visibility, bolstered its public perception, increased the proportion of Britons who would consider a donation, and given it a fundraising boost.