The Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) will be the UK’s first major charity to adopt “opt-in” rules on how it communicates with its donors, though it expects to lose £36 million in donations over five years by doing so.

The rules forbid charities from cold-calling potential donors – they have to wait for donors to contact them and opt in to a relationship. The RNLI expect to lose around 500,000 from the 2 million donors on their database.

Charities have a grace period of two years, that is until the end of 2018, to comply with the revised data protection law, brought in after the sad suicide last May of 92 year old poppy-seller Olive Cooke, who was said to be overwhelmed and distressed by the hundreds of requests for donations from the hundred charities that held her details on their databases.

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