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Changes to our membership

In the latest edition of MS Matters, we started communicating with our supporters about the changes we’re making to our membership approach. This is so we can reach many more people affected by MS, as well as enable everyone to get the information they want and need from us in a way that works for them.

We currently have a membership of about 30,000, but we estimate that MS in the UK affects more than a million people when you take account of the 130,000 people who have the condition and all their friends and family.

Reaching the widest community possible will give us a louder voice when we talk to the government and stand up for people with MS. And the more people who know about us, and get involved in what we do, the better our services will be for everyone who needs support.

At the AGM this year we’ll be proposing legal changes to our membership offer, and working this proposal up has given us a chance to reflect on the current shape of our membership. Our new approach will mean legal responsibilities will sit more heavily with our Board of Trustees and National Council chairs.

Does this mean the Board will be less accountable to members?

Trustees and National Council chairs will remain accountable to everyone in the MS community and we will still be run on democratic principles. We remain committed to giving our community a voice and being led by them. We want to create an electorate which, hopefully, will be much larger than our current membership, rather than involving many people in a democratic system where only a fraction currently vote. This electorate will continue to elect the majority of the board.

What will be different for our members?

We’re building an exciting online space that our members can personalise to get tailored information. This will give them control of how they get involved with our organisation, as well as a chance to connect with other people affected by MS, and local MS Groups. They’ll still have the option to receive MS Matters magazine, will be invited to take part in the latest research and be part of our new electorate.

What about the membership fee?

We don’t want cost to be a barrier to anyone wanting to join us. The online space, and the links it will provide to our MS community, will be available to all. However, we will also be asking for donations and hope that, wherever possible, anyone who is currently a member will be happy to continue their annual contribution.

Will local MS groups lose out on membership fees?

We are committed to providing local groups with equivalent funding for at least the first three years and will ensure they don’t lose out in the longer term.

At the AGM in 2019 the Board approved some criteria for delivering this project, which included an income arrangement to be agreed for local groups and that communication with new sign-ups be put in place for groups.

We’re making these changes to our membership so we can support more people, build a stronger community, improve support services and drive forward world-leading research.

We’ve developed our new offer as a concept for both existing and new members. Further information can be found on the website here.

We’d love your feedback on how we can adapt and implement this in local groups and across our volunteering group. Please get in touch by emailing [email protected].