The National Multiple Sclerosis Society funds research intended to find the cause and cure of MS. For people affected by the disease, it offers counseling, education, and equipment assistance. The Society also works to promote public policies and professional education that serve the estimated 400,000 people in the US who have MS, and 2.1 million worldwide. The Society operates through its national office and a 50-state network of chapters. It generates most of its revenue through fundraising and counts some 16,000 federal MS activists. The Society was founded in 1946 after Sylvia Lawry ran a classified ad in The New York Times looking for anyone who had recovered from the disease her brother was battling.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society operates through a national headquarters and 50 chapters across the country. The headquarters focuses on a research and training program, which awards research grants and distributes information. In addition, the Society coordinates chapter programs and services, such as chapter and campaign development, fundraising, and materials and supplies, to name a few. Locally based, the chapters provide information and referral, counseling, education, advocacy, and equipment assistance.
Among its several international efforts, the Society reaches more than 70 countries through a collaborative awareness campaign called World MS Day. The campaign aims to raise public awareness about living with MS through a multi-media program, as well as encourage donations to end the disease.
In fiscal 2010 (ends September) the Society posted a 4% increase in revenue over the prior year. Results were buoyed by a 6% year-over-year rise in special events proceeds, which generated about two-thirds of all revenue. The improvement helped to offset a slump in almost all other areas of support impacted in part by the economic downturn.
During the same period, the Society assisted approximately one million people by plowing $159 million into programs and services (a 5% slip from the prior year). Client and community services, the largest category, account for roughly one-third of all expenses. Almost $37 million of total program services went toward supporting 325 new and ongoing research projects globally. The sole area to receive a slight increase in funding in 2010 over 2009, research reflects less than 20% of all expenses.
The Society's mission is fueled primarily through outreach programs and services coupled with an increasing investment in research projects. More than $43 million is earmarked in 2012 toward research to help stop MS. In this spirit, Fast Forward, a subsidiary founded by The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Athersys, works to fast track treatment for MS by connecting university research with private drug development.