IMRF Members work together for many purposes, not just at sea and on exercises. 

Last year, Chris Hartmann from the Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger (DGzRS) or German Maritime Search and Rescue Association traveled to Estonia for three days to work with the Estonia Volunteer Rescue Organisation, sharing and discussing successful approaches to fundraising, based on DGzRS’s experience. 

The DGzRS is one of the most modern sea rescue services in the world, funded entirely through donations and voluntary contributions. 

Similarly, the Estonia Volunteer Rescue Organisation was established as an independent, joint initiative by private members of coastal communities to enhance the safety of their home area and is funded by private donations and voluntary contributions.

Chris is the DGzRS’s head of face-to-face fundraising and he explained how DGzRS manages its fundraising approaches and ways for volunteers to engage with potential donors in face to face conversations. 

The Estonian Volunteer Rescue Organisation is keen to use similar tactics to DGzRS, in order to reach and more effectively engage with new sponsors.

"During the course of the IMRF meeting, we learned about the best way to structure direct contact between rescuers and volunteers. Our organisations face similar challenges and so made sense to work together and to ask for DGzRS’s support with our strategic planning," says Toomas Roolaid, Päästelitt supervisory board member (which oversees the Estonia Volunteer Rescue Organisation).

"DGzRS' many years of experience will help us to set the right focus from the outset and to minimize potential problems," adds Päästelitt marketing manager Joanna Lennard.

DGzRS Managing Director Nicolaus Stadeler commented that the transfer of knowledge was a good example of international cooperation: "Saving people from distress at sea is our common task. However, we can only do this if we successfully attract new donors who will give us the resources to do so. This is not only true in Germany, but for many search and rescue organisations around the world, therefore, I am very pleased that we can help our Estonian colleagues with our knowledge."

Theresa Crossley, IMRF CEO added: “Fundraising, like many other ‘back office’ functions, is critical for the day-to-day work of many SAR organisations, so the opportunity to share expertise and learn from each other is immensely valuable.  Often we face similar challenges, but different organisations can be at different stages in meeting those challenges and sharing experiences or an alternative perspective can really help to develop innovative approaches.

- The Estonia Volunteer Rescue Organisation is made up of 27 different Estonian Voluntary Marine and Lake Rescue Member Units, over 1,000 sea rescuers and 55 rescue stations around the coast.
- The DGzRS provides maritime search and rescue services in the German areas of the North Sea and Baltic Sea. It has around 60 rescue cruisers and boats ready for action based at 55 stations.