MS Research Australia’s fundraising initiative Kiss Goodbye to MS looks set to change the landscape of MS research around the world.
In 2016, Kiss Goodbye to MS expanded its wings and officially became a global initiative. This is exciting as more funding for research is desperately needed to continue the current momentum of research and treatment success which has developed over the last decade.
The success of Kiss Goodbye to MS as a low cost and high return fundraising campaign galvanised MS International Federation (MSIF) and its member countries, who saw its potential as a vehicle to increase the funding available for research globally.
Kiss Goodbye to MS has already been adopted by 11 countries. In 2017 it will continue to expand into other countries such as the UK and Canada. While it is wonderful to have an Aussie-founded campaign adopted as the first global MS research initiative ever, the truly exciting factor is the new funds that will be generated for research into MS around the world.
The 2016 global target for Kiss Goodbye to MS is US $1 million and together we have reached US $840,000. Donations are still being received in Australia and many other countries like Denmark and Ireland, so we are confident that the global target will be reached before the end of the year.
Kiss Goodbye to MS has brought together thousands of internationals who are passionate about raising funds for research. In an era where globalisation and digitalisation is making the world a smaller place, with diminishing geographical boundaries, the international MS community is more aligned than ever before. The introduction of a united global campaign will also help bring the world together to enhance MS research, and tap into new and exciting funding opportunities. It will also provide a unique vehicle for countries who have never previously fundraised for MS research and it creates new advocates to ensure better access to standard MS treatments are available in other parts of the world. We welcome this development as it strengthens the global MS community and gives them a voice.
Following the growing engagement on social media from the community and international celebrities, we saw countries such as India and Greece join the global movement. Given that different countries have different level of resources they can contribute to the campaign, the campaign was made available for each country to implement as they saw fit. The only condition was that the fundamental message behind Kiss Goodbye to MS must remain, that is the message of hope, empowerment and positivity.
In some countries ‘red lips’ and ‘kissing’ are culturally sensitive, which meant a few countries were initially hesitant to join. However as India closely watched the global roll out, they decided to hold a small pilot event, which the Indian community embraced. Following that success, India not only continued to fundraise with Kiss Goodbye to MS in 2016, but have confirmed that they will run a month-long campaign in January 2017.
Similarly, the Greek MS Society initially indicated that they would not be involved given the country’s economic instability, however, the Greek MS community convinced them otherwise. Thanks to the hashtag #KissGoodbyeToMS on social media and the groundswell of activity in that country, the Greek MS Society were compelled to embrace the initiative, started fundraising and have also committed to the 2017 campaign.
However, it is Ireland who have stood out. They ran a three month Kiss Goodbye to MS campaign, despite initially planning to only run a four week campaign. The success and engagement from Ireland has mirrored the outstanding enthusiasm we have seen in Australia, and we look forward to watching the Irish campaign grow.
With each country becoming more passionate about the campaign, it is exciting to see some good-natured competitiveness developing between countries. Australia is determined to hold our place on the leader board!
The global success of Kiss Goodbye to MS across language and cultural barriers proves, that social media has the power to transcend boundaries and can overcome even seemingly insurmountable differences. In Australia we are proud to see our campaign grow to such success, but more so, we are excited about the new source of funding for research into MS. Importantly, it creates new, strong and powerful voices in MS organisations and jurisdictions large and small, in the global fight for equity of access to new research, techniques and treatments for MS.