Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

250 Dundas Street West, Suite 500
Toronto, ON M5T 2Z5
President & CEO: Pamela Valentine
Board Chair: Valerie Hussey

Charitable Reg. #:10774 6174 RR0001


Ci's Star Rating is calculated based on the following independent metrics:

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Audited financial statements for current and previous years available on the charity’s website.



Grade based on the charity's public reporting of the work it does and the results it achieves.



The demonstrated impact per dollar Ci calculates from available program information.


Charity's cash and investments (funding reserves) relative to how much it spends on programs in most recent year.



For a dollar donated, after overhead costs of fundraising and admin/management (excluding surplus) 49 cents are available for programs.

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About Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada:

Founded in 1948, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada (MS Society of Canada) aims to “connect and empower the MS community to create positive change.”  MS is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system which can cause symptoms such as fatigue, lack of coordination, weakness, tingling, impaired sensation, vision problems, bladder problems, cognitive impairment, and mood changes. There is currently no cure for MS. The charity reports that Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world, estimating there to be 77,000 Canadians living with the disease. This works out to roughly 1 in every 385 Canadians living with the disease. The MS Society of Canada runs four programs: research (36%), client services (28%), education and awareness (19%), and advocacy (17%).

MS Society Canada's largest area of program spending is its own programs. In F2018, it spent $16.7m on its programs. This includes $5.0m on public education and awareness. MS Society Canada offers numerous client services to people affected by MS, people waiting for a diagnosis, family and friends of people with MS, caregivers and healthcare professionals, employers, institutions and students.  

The MS Society of Canada runs a 1:1 Peer Support Program for its clients. This is a telephone and internet-based program that aims to reduce the social isolation and loneliness of people with MS. In F2018, there were 60 trained volunteers living with MS that were providing guidance to their peers.

The MS Society of Canada provides information about multiple sclerosis through the MS Knowledge Network program. In F2018, the charity responded to 4,285 inquires sent in by 2,548 individuals through the MS Navigators (MS Navigators are the people who answer inquiries made through the MS Knowledge Network).  Support was provided through phone, email, and live chat.

The charity advocates to help reduce barriers for people living with multiple sclerosis. It advocates for changes in four areas: employment security, income security, improved accessibility, and accelerating research. In F2018, over 5,200 letters were sent to MPs.

In 2018, MS Society granted $10.2m in research grants, compared with $8.4m in 2017. Through its research grants, MS Society of Canada supports researchers in the following areas: cause of MS, progressive MS, repair/remyelination, diagnosis, life-modifying therapies, and cognition/mental health. In F2018, the charity granted just over $10m to support 66 projects.

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Results and Impact

Ci chose to highlight the following results.

In 2018, Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), a drug produced by researchers funded by the charity, was approved by Health Canada as the first disease-modifying therapy available for early primary progressive MS.

In F2018, 87% of respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with their overall experience with MS Navigator. Of these respondents, 84% would recommend the service to someone affected by MS, and 80% stated they intend to act based on the information received through this service.

The charity’s advocacy work resulted in the M-192 motion being passed which calls for a review of federal legislation, policy and programs to be inclusive for people with episodic disabilities.

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Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada is one of Canada’s largest charities, a Major 100, with donations and special events revenues of $50.7m in F2018. Administrative costs are 8% of revenues and its fundraising costs are 43% of donations. MS Canada's fundraising costs consistently exceed the CRA Charities Directorate's guidance of 35%. For every dollar donated to the charity, 49 cents go to its programs and research grants. This is outside of Charity Intelligence’s reasonable range for overhead spending.

The Multiple Sclerosis Scientific Research Foundation is a related party to the MS Society of Canada. To calculate the MS Society of Canada’s funding reserves, Ci has combined the balance sheets of the Society and the Research Foundation. In total, the two charities have a funding reserve of $36.8m. These reserves include $605k of donor-endowed funds. Excluding donor-endowed funds, the charity can cover annual program and granting costs at F2018 level for 16 months.

MS Society Canada has long-term research grant commitments of $6.3m in 2018 to its research foundation. It will pay $2.5m in 2019, $2.8m in 2020, and $0.9m in 2021.  

This charity report is an update that has been sent to Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada for review. Changes and edits may be forthcoming.

Updated on July 23, 2018 by Stefan Tetzlaff.

Financial Review

Financial Ratios

Fiscal year ending December
Administrative costs as % of revenues 8.3%8.8%9.6%
Fundraising costs as % of donations 42.8%42.5%41.6%
Total overhead spending 51.1%51.3%51.2%
Program cost coverage (%) 0.0%154.2%133.9%

Summary Financial Statements

All figures in $000s
Donations 24,49822,52222,275
Government funding 1,2101,2341,218
Fees for service 273352
Lotteries (net) 1,1591,2581,230
Business activities (net) 476175
Special events 26,21726,03826,968
Investment income 189514486
Other income 611431359
Total revenues 53,95852,09152,663
Program costs 16,73915,75117,554
Grants 10,1878,3557,810
Administrative costs 4,4394,5565,013
Fundraising costs 21,73120,62620,484
Total spending 53,09649,28850,861
Cash flow from operations 8622,8231,802
Funding reserves 36,76337,70534,534

Note: Ci reported lotteries and business activities net of expenses. Cost of goods sold and gaming expenses were adjusted, decreasing total revenues and expenses by $255k in F2018, $255k in F2017 and $363k in F2016. Ci recognized unrealized gains (losses) on investments in investment income, affecting total revenues by ($595k) in F2018, ($251k) in F2017, and $31k in F2016. Ci adjusted changes in research grants payable, affecting total grants by $392k in F2018, ($688k) in F2017, and ($1.1m) in F2016. Ci removed amortization from programs, administrative and fundraising costs on a pro-rated basis.

Salary Information

Full-time staff: 297

Avg. Compensation: $47,669

Top 10 staff salary range:

$350k +
$300k - $350k
$250k - $300k
$200k - $250k
$160k - $200k
$120k - $160k
$80k - $120k
$40k - $80k
< $40k

Information from most recent CRA Charities Directorate filings for F2017

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Comments & Contact

Comments added by the Charity:

The following comments were added to a previous profile:


Since 1948, the MS Society of Canada has consistently transformed donor contributions into concrete services and research accomplishments that have helped tens of thousands of people with MS live better days.

The MS Society has been able to do this for two reasons: extraordinary community support of our mission and astute stewardship of donor dollars by volunteers.

The MS Society is a national charity led by volunteers who believe wholeheartedly in what we do and how we do it. We have over a million donors annually supporting our work and we receive only two per cent of our revenue from government funding.  This is unlike the majority of charities in the health sector where the percentage of revenue from the government is 70 per cent according to Statistics Canada. In addition, we receive less than one percent of our funding from pharmaceutical companies. 

The costs associated with our fundraising activities are strictly monitored and, year-over-year, result in our ability to provide millions of dollars to leading-edge research and provide services for people affected by MS.

Like any other charity that raises funds on its own, our fundraising costs are a reality. Without implementing dynamic and assertive fundraising programs, the MS Society would simply not achieve its mission. We strive to achieve a balance of containing costs without taking resources away from our communities.

Our reporting policies are transparent and responsible, and adherent to all government and industry standards. We report fundraising costs as fundraising costs. Our audited financial statements are made available to all supporters and the public every year.

Donors should feel confident that the MS Society of Canada is a careful steward of every donor dollar. Please visit our website for more information on donating with confidence to the MS Society of Canada.

For more information:

Jennifer Asselin, Manager, Public Relations and Communications

1-800-268-7582 ext. 3144 

Charity Contact

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