Welcome everyone back to 2014. It promises to be a big year for MS Australia and I’m looking forward to keeping you informed about key milestones, events and meetings throughout the year.
I’m so pleased to kick off the year with a guest blog which highlights one of our great fundraising support groups, the MS Angels and MS Saints from Angels Coordinator and MS Research Australia staff member Mandy Lee.
MS Angels bring hope for people with MS
The MS Angels have just finished a fantastic year of fundraising for MS research, culminating with a special event in Sydney in December featuring author Jillian Kingsford-Smith, who has just written a fantastic book entitled ‘Taking control: A guide for getting on with life after being diagnosed with MS’.
The Angels are a network of senior, well-connected women from the business and government community, who are dedicated to helping multiple sclerosis research in Australia and donating their time and funds in a way that allows them to network with other interesting women.
The Angels were founded in Sydney in 2009 by two female executives who each had a sibling with MS. They wanted to make more than the usual contribution to MS research and this, combined with the increasingly worrying outlook for corporate women in late 2008, spurred the idea of recruiting an exclusive and diverse group of fabulous corporate women – current and future leaders – who could contribute to MS research and also work together to build a quality women’s network.
In 2010 the MS Angels expanded to Canberra and in 2011 groups were launched in Melbourne and Brisbane. Each MS Angels group consists of approximately 20 dynamic female executives, each of whom has made a personal commitment to supporting MS research in Australia. Many MS Angels have a personal connection to MS, but others have chosen to support a great cause, whilst at the same time benefiting from high-level networking with other senior women.
Each year the Angels raise over $100,000 towards MS research and this is often matched by their companies to mean even more funding goes to the research where it is most needed. Earlier this year the guys got in on the action and a group of executive men, named the MS Saints, was established to fundraise for MS research.
Each MS Angels and Saints group meets six times per year for a series of exclusive events featuring high profile guests, meaningful networking and career development opportunities. Each group selects a specific MS researcher to support with their funds for the year (from a range of approved projects presented to them by MS Research Australia) and that researcher provides regular reports on the progress of their work.
This year’s event program ended on a real high with the Brisbane Angels meeting the QLD Minister for Disability, the Hon Tracy Davis MP; the Canberra Angels being hosted by Senator Kate Lundy at Parliament House; the Melbourne Angels hearing from Andrea Fung of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission; and on Tuesday the Sydney Angels being treated to a talk about maintaining work-life balance by acclaimed journalist and author, Jillian Kingsford-Smith. Of course there is a bit of healthy rivalry between the Angels and the Saints and the guys did very well this year in securing the Honourable Dr Brendan Nelson as their end of year guest speaker.
The most important thing about these groups is the significant funding they raise for MS research – and since 2009, not only have they allocated over $500,000 to their chosen MS research projects, but some of these projects have gone on to gain significant Government funding, meaning an additional $2 million has been leveraged for projects the Angels initially seed-funded – a fantastic result.