You are here

AGM - Changes to our membership

As we’ve previously communicated, this year’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be hosted virtually on 5 December. Over the last couple of days, we’ve been busy sending out information on how to vote or attend the upcoming AGM, to all of our 26,000 members. And voting is now open until 3 December 2020.


Our AGM will include a review of the past year, and the results of voting on resolutions and Trustees elections. We’ve been working with a specialist recruitment agency to attract applicants from more diverse backgrounds including a focus on BAME, and have some fantastic candidates this year! You can find out about them in the AGM booklet, which can also be viewed online here.

The resolutions this year include regular items such as appointing our auditors and receiving the 2019 Annual Report and Accounts.

Members are also being asked to vote on a special resolution about on our membership offer and how it should change to respond to the evolving needs and interests of our community. We’ve included an explanation below.

Changing our legal structure

We’re asking members to update our legal structure to make sure that we can retain the ability to make legitimate decisions as an organisation, whilst attracting a wider number of people to be a part of our new electorate.

Currently, our legal membership is made up of all paid up members of the MS Society and the Articles of Association (the legal document that sets out how we operate) require one tenth of the total legal membership to be present in person or by proxy for decisions to be valid.

Year on year, our membership has consistently fallen (from 33,510 in 2015 to 27,753 in 2019) and the percentage of members voting at the AGM has hovered around 12-15%. If numbers of voting members fall below 10%, we risk not being able to make legitimate decisions at general meetings.

Under the proposed new legal structure, our ability to make legitimate decisions on constitutional matters would be protected by making the Trustees and Chairs of National Councils the sole legal members. The existing membership would step down as legal members while retaining the right to elect new Trustees.

Creating our new electorate

To make sure members who are interested in governance can continue to elect new Trustees, our new governance model would include the creation of an Electorate. Current members would automatically become part of the Electorate and retain the right to vote. But importantly, they could also choose to opt out of receiving information about voting if that’s not how they choose to engage with us.

New members would be invited to opt in to the Electorate when they join us so anyone with an interest in governance matters could take part. All members would be able to regularly review and update their preferences.

This Electorate would provide more frequent and focused opportunities to engage with interested members throughout the year on governance matters, as opposed to once a year at the AGM. The Electorate would retain the ability to elect the majority of the Trustees to the Board, while the Board would gain the right to reappoint candidates based on performance.

Voting on resolutions will be open until 3 December. If passed, the new governance structure will come into effect from 1 January 2021.

Our new engagement offer

Following approval in 2018, we’ll also update members taking part in the AGM on the progress of our new engagement offer. Our new approach to membership engagement will see us launch a brand-new offer for our supporters, enabling them to engage with us in a way that is meaningful and more tailored to them.

We’re developing a new online platform which will be personalised to each members’ interests, giving them the content, services and support that’s most relevant to them, and allowing them to make the connections they want with other members of our community online. It will also inform people of local events and volunteering or campaigning activity and therefore be a more engaging offer.

We’ll be able to appeal to a broader range of people by removing a barrier to joining - the £5 joining fee - by creating a free membership offer. Moving to a new free membership model would allow people to contribute what they can as a donation - a change we believe would make membership attractive to many more people in our community.

A refreshed and more enticing MS Matters will still be available to our members in online form or, for a small fee, as a printed magazine.

Find out more:

  1. Read our previous article here to find out more on these questions:

- Does this mean the Board will be less accountable to members?
- What will be different for our members?
- What about the membership fee?
- Will local MS groups lose out on membership fees?

  1. Or join our member zoom sessions to find out more about the changes with members of our Board of Trustees and Executive Group which will be taking place on:

Tuesday 27 Oct 10:00-11:00
Thursday 29 October, 19:00-20:00
Friday 6 November, 12:00-13:00

Register your place here.

  1. Further information can also be found on our main website here.

  2. We’d love your feedback on how we can adapt and implement this across our team of volunteers. Please get in touch by emailing the team on: [email protected]