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Your donation is changing the world…

The not-for-profit sector is facing increasing demands from the public around donation and funding transparency. Now more than ever MS supporters are asking exactly where their hard earned donated dollars are going. And why shouldn’t they?

As the Kiss Goodbye to MS Campaign Manager, I’m proud that our supporters know we are raising funds exclusively for research into MS. Kiss Goodbye to MS was founded by MS Research Australia and continues to be run in house. Over the past 5 years Kiss Goodbye to MS has been run almost entirely by one MS Research Australia staff member. During our peak period I call in the help of a contractor, usually a young university graduate eager to learn about the sector, and I rely heavily on our dedicated volunteers. Pro-bono help from our corporate supporters is the final part of the puzzle to both assist us in getting the job done but also reducing our costs.

Kiss Goodbye to MS has a specific niche as the only national fundraising initiative in Australia to raise funds for MS research. Similarly, MS Research Australia has one very unique role – to fund and facilitate the best MS research in Australia and around the world. Our ultimate goal is simple and focused; to find a cure for multiple sclerosis.

According to the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission (ACNC), there are currently more than 54,000 registered charities in Australia. And since 2012 the ACNC has registered 8,000 new charities. Let’s break this down. That is just over 4 charities registered every single day. Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? And it is. With a population of 30 million people in this country, that is one charity for every 555 people.

I am privileged to work in a sector full of passionate people who are committed to changing the world. Each of those 54,000 organisations were established to make a difference. But with so many not-for-profit organisations Aussies could be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed,  and while every not-for-profit organisation has their own purpose, they will not all align with your own individual passions.

In April, identical twin sisters Sarah and Millie Horton held a gala ball raising $517,762 for Kiss Goodbye to MS. Millie and Sarah grew up watching their mum battle with MS. Last year they decided to raise money that would fund progressive MS research. Millie and Sarah’s passion, combined with a clear decision to support research, resulted in the sisters making an incredible contribution to MS research.

Millie and Sarah did their homework. They phoned me to discuss their idea, to ask how we allocate funding and understand our organisational objectives. Doing this background research ensured that Millie and Sarah knew that their donation would go exactly to where they wanted.

“One day the global MS research effort will deliver a cure which will bring hope to the millions of people worldwide living with the condition.  The ultimate goal for our campaign was to bring this day closer to the present” said Sarah Horton.

“Given what we are aiming to achieve, what is extremely important to us is true transparency and a real opportunity to direct the funds we raised towards much needed progressive MS research” said Millie Horton

Our team at MS Research Australia is small. We are passionate about what we do, often working overtime to help protect our best and brightest Australian MS researchers, which is a challenge given the significant drop in government funding for MS in real terms and the variability in amount, year on year.

Which is why Kiss Goodbye to MS is such an important fundraising campaign. Our supporters and donors actively choose for their donation to go towards research into MS, and we need them now more than ever. As we head into 2018 we have huge goals for Kiss Goodbye to MS, with the intention of raising more funds than ever before, meaning even more exciting research MS research projects.

Recently, an independent survey of 1,000 people showed that 57% of Australians want their donation to be spent on MS research, compared to 34% who would prefer their donation to go towards MS services. Similar studies overseas have shown that around 60% of people with MS prioritise their donation going to fund MS research. That’s not to say that MS services are not important because, of course, they are. What is imperative, is that you chose to support an organisation that aligns with your own passion and purpose.

So how can you be sure that your donation, fundraising, or volunteered time is best aligning with your own passion? With so many purpose-built organisations, it is crucial that you know where you want your hard earned dollars to actually go. Look for organisations that offer transparency, have clear goals, and are meeting those goals with measurable outcomes. I believe it’s not only crucial, but empowering to stay informed on the achievements of the organisation that you choose to donate t. And this is easier than you may think, simply perusing through an annual report, ACNC website or a phone call and you will find the information you need.

In an evolving not-for-profit space, knowledge is power. It is not about how much you give, it is about where you are giving and exactly what impact it has made. An awareness of who you are supporting completes the virtuous cycle that is the ‘joy of giving ‘to something you really believe in.

To help us raise $1.25 million in 2018, register to fundraise now! Head to www.kissgoodbyetoms.org for more information.

By Richelle King, Kiss Goodbye to MS Campaign Manager