Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia (MS Research Australia) is Australia’s largest not-for-profit organisation dedicated to funding, facilitating, educating, innovating and fostering collaboration in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) research. Simply put, MS causes damage to myelin – a protective sheath surrounding the nerve fibres of the central nervous system. Damage to myelin results in interference with the messages that run from the brain to other body parts. MS is an autoimmune process triggered by genetic and environmental factors and has no known cure. Symptoms differ amongst individuals, but one denominator is common: life becomes unpredictable. The charity’s mission is to accelerate research towards establishing better treatments and, ultimately, finding a cure. For decades, Australian-based MS research had been hampered by a demonstrable lack of funding. Worse still, from the 1970s to well into the 1990s, what minimal funding existed was uncoordinated, being largely allocated to state-based medical researchers. It was clearly time for a change. However, it wasn’t until 2004 that a number of directors recommitted to MS research funding via a totally new business model. Their vision was to establish an independent Australian MS research arm, and MS Research Australia was born. Today, MS Research Australia is the only for-purpose funder and coordinator of MS research in Australia, responsible for instigating massive changes to the research landscape.
MS Research Australia’s Strategic Plan focuses ever more strongly on outcome-driven research, identifying potential treatment improvements and symptom management options. Now in its 16th year of operation, MS Research Australia has been imperative to achieving major breakthroughs in MS research. To achieve its financial objectives, MS Research Australia needed to increase the community fundraising money generated through Kiss Goodbye to MS. MS Research Australia also The May 50K, which is a virtual, peer to peer community fundraising campaign that calls on supporters to run or walk 50km throughout the month of May to raise funds for research into MS. The MS Research Australia team ensured that finding a cure by funding research was the fundamental purpose of The May 50K campaign from beginning to end. The tone of the message was optimistic, using positive imagery to promote the message that with sufficient funding for the brightest researchers, a cure for MS could potentially be found within a decade. MS Research Australia took care to authentically and consistently champion the physical achievements of people living with MS throughout the entire The May 50K campaign. Strong imagery and clear messaging in campaign materials conveyed a feeling of empowerment, action, the testing of one’s limits and inclusion, regardless of individual physical limitations. MS Research Australia’s The May 50K campaign can best be described as a ‘runaway success’. This was a campaign that didn’t so much exceed targets and aspirations as blitz them. The successful outcome of The May 50K campaign has benefitted MS Research Australia not just in terms of funds raised, but in many other aspects. These benefits flow on to the community in the form of more funding for a greater number of research projects, hastening the finding of a cure for MS.
For further information on MS Research Australia visit msra.org.au