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Just the Facts: 2006-2007
Frequently asked questions about multiple sclerosis
and the National MS Society

MS Facts | National MS Society Facts | The Society in People Terms

Founded in 1946, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society supports more MS research, offers more services to people with MS, provides more professional education programs and furthers more MS advocacy efforts than any other MS organization in the world.

We do this through the extensive research we support to find the cause, cure and improved treatments of the disease, the comprehensive services we provide to people with MS and their families, the professional education programs we offer to assist health care providers better serve their MS patients, and through our advocacy efforts on state and federal levels to encourage public policies supportive of the needs of people with multiple sclerosis.

MS stops people from moving. We exist to make sure it doesn't.


How many people does the Society serve?
The Society provides assistance to over a million people every year through partnerships with the health care community, its home office and a fifty-state network of chapters.

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How many volunteers does the Society have?
Across the country, over 460,000 volunteers participate in events, and support programs and services to help people with MS.

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Are the National MS Society’s programs free?
Free and nominal-fee programs for people with MS are available in every chapter. These include counseling, self-help groups, help with medical equipment, information about MS and referral to professionals specializing in MS.

The Society’s MS Navigator program offers a partner to every person who lives with the challenges of MS. This free service is available to anyone who calls the Society. 

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Where does the Society get its money?
The Society depends on support from members, friends, corporate partners and the public at large. The Society’s total revenue in 2006 was $219 million, up $12 million from last year. This is a combination of all revenue including individual gifts; membership dues and contributions; legacies and bequests; special events; corporate contributions and investments; about one percent comes from Federal grants. The Society receives less than three percent of its income from pharmaceutical companies and those funds are contributed in the form of grants.

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How does the Society raise funds?
Each National MS Society chapter organizes a variety of special events and campaigns. Two key fund-raising events for the Society are the MS 150 Bike Tour®, and the MS Walk®.

  • MS 150 BIKE TOUR®
    The Society’s MS Bike Rides are the country’s largest organized cycling series. There are over 100 bike rides offered coast to coast from April through November. Proceeds benefit the Society’s national research programs and fund programs that help people with MS and their families. For information about the MS 150 Bike Tour®, call 1-800-344-4867 or visit nationalmssociety.org.
    Every spring about 200,000 people unite at over 600 sites across the country to participate in The MS Walk®. All walks have an accessible route so people of all abilities can participate. Funds raised support the National MS Society's research and services programs. The Society also offers in select areas The MS Challenge Walk®, a 3-day, life-changing journey across 50 miles to raise funds to fight MS, increase public awareness and promote health and fitness. For more information about the MS Walk®, call 1-800-344-4867 or visit nationalmssociety.org.

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How does the National MS Society spend its money?
The Society’s nationwide network of chapters are the lifeblood of MS research, providing major support for research programs. No less than half of all the unrestricted income that the chapters share with the national office goes to MS research.

  • 79 percent of Society expenses are devoted to research and service programs that help people with MS and their families, and to public and professional education.
  • 21 percent is invested in support services such as fund-raising and Society management.
  • Sixty cents of every dollar stay in the chapter for local program use.

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What do donations to the Society mean to you?

he National Multiple Sclerosis Society spends more money on MS research than any other MS organization in the world. Since its founding in 1946, the Society has allocated more than $500 million to MS research. These figures have increased steadily over the years

In 2004, the Society launched a $30 million special targeted research campaign, Promise 2010, to fund four special initiatives. These include:

  • A nationwide MS database
  • An international study to correlate MS lesions to types of disease
  • The first collaborative MS Pediatric Centers of Excellence for children with MS
  • A collaborative research designed to speed nervous system repair and protection.

These investments in basic and applied MS research have made possible significant advancements towards finding effective treatments and improving diagnosis, rehabilitation, and symptomatic therapy for people with all forms of MS, as well as bringing us closer to a cure.

While the search for a cure continues, the Society helps keep families together despite the challenges of dealing with chronic illness. The Society funds more service programs for people with MS than any other MS organization in the world. It committed $125 million in 2006 to client programs to educate, empower, support, and inform people with MS and their families. Society programs address issues from the trauma of diagnosis to maintaining personal productivity, to meeting the challenges of old age with a chronic disabling disease. The Society offers over 60 educational brochures, more than 1,700 support groups, 1000 family programs, and 2,000 chapter-based educational programs to over 75,000 participants.

In addition, the home office offers InsideMS®, the Society's lifestyle magazine received by a half million readers six times a year, and Teen InsideMS® for young adults.

The Society funds more professional education programs than any other MS organization in the world. Through its clinical programs, the Society offers a full complement of literature and educational training to assist primary care physicians, neurologists, nurse practitioners and other health professionals stay current with new therapies and continuing MS research. Approximately, 6,000 health professionals a month visit the Society's specially designated Web site.

The Society offers a Professional Resource Center with library services and MS specialist consultations for physicians as well as MS information for allied health care providers. The Professional Resource Center offers a hotline for health-care personnel. For targeted information, call toll-free: 1-866-MS-TREAT. Physicians may e-mail MD_Info@nmss.org; other health professionals may e-mail HealthProf_info@nmss.org.

As part of the MS Action Network, MS activists are the leading voice in advocating on behalf of the approximately 400,000 people living with MS nationwide. Thousands of passionate individuals regularly take action on legislative and regulatory issues that matter to people with MS at the state and federal levels. By raising their voices together in response to tough issues, MS activists effectively spread awareness and cultivate positive change. They do that through support from the Society’s Public Policy Office, chapter Government Relations Committees, coalitions with like-minded groups, and the annual MS Public Policy Conference in Washington D.C.

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MS Facts | National MS Society Facts | The Society in People Terms

  Last updated August 17, 2007