Legal & Financial Details
Here are the guidelines for DIY Fundraising events. If you have additional questions, please contact us.
Fees & Waivers
It’s free to get started! There is no fee for registering a DIY event with the National MS Society.
And no need to create a separate waiver! When you register your event as a group fundraising activity there is no need to provide your participants with an additional waiver. The group fundraising activity registration process includes the signing of the DIY waiver that will apply to your event.
Permits & Insurance
When you register your event as a group fundraising activity there is no need to provide your participants with an additional waiver. The group fundraising activity registration process includes the signing of the DIY waiver that will apply to your event.
Permits and insurance needs vary based on the event type you’re hosting and where the event will be held, but here are some general guidelines to help you get started.
Depending on where you hold your DIY event, you may need an event permit. Permit requirements, including fees and timeline, vary based on where you live/will host the event so check with your venue and local municipality, but generally, applications must be submitted at least 60 days prior to the event. Often, you will need a special event if one or more of the following apply:
- The event is held on public property
- The event is open to the general public (free or ticketed)
- You anticipate more than 100 people attending
Every event is as unique as the venue or geographical area you decide to host it in. As the organizer, you are responsible for obtaining necessary insurance or liability coverage. Check with your venue on their specific requirements and start your checklist! Several insurance vendors offer special event insurance policies to put your mind at ease and protect you, your guests, and your venue from things like accidents, unexpected damages and cancellation costs.
The National MS Society cannot be held liable for details associated directly or indirectly with the event, including, but not limited to: expenses, purchases, insurance or liability coverage.
Income & Expenses
Online & Offline Donations
Online donations may be accepted through your personal or group DIY fundraising page.
All donation checks must be payable directly to the National MS Society. Please include the DIY event name in the memo section. Checks can be submitted by mail or through the check capture feature on the National MS Society app on your Android or iOS device.
Cash donations should be converted to check or money order and sent to the National MS Society. If you receive donations on-site at your event and are unable to convert them, please send them to your local market office along with an offline donation form.
Only checks payable to the National MS Society and cash donations sent along with an offline donation form will be provided with a tax-deductible acknowledgment letter in accordance with IRS and state tax regulations.
The National MS Society cannot reimburse you for any event or fundraising expenses. As the event organizer, you are responsible for maintaining accounting for your event, logistical costs, and marketing and promotion associated with your event.
To keep your costs down, consider asking local business in your community for in-kind donations in exchange for advertising or event promotion. The National MS Society will not supply any funding for your event and will not be responsible for any debts incurred. If you are deducting expenses before sending net proceeds to the Society, you should not state or imply to your donors that any funds given to you are tax-deductible, and you should not use the word "donation" because it implies that they are tax deductible.
Legal Policies & Guidelines
- The activity will be promoted and conducted in a manner to avoid the appearance of the Society endorsing any product, firm, organization, individual or service.
- The Society reserves the right to decline association with any third-party when it believes that such association or DIY activity may have a negative effect on the reputation of the Society. A DIY organizer should consider the impact on the Society’s reputation prior to engaging in a DIY activity. Although an activity may raise funds, if it negatively impacts the Society’s reputation, it is not an acceptable DIY activity.
- When possible, all DIY activities should establish a timetable and action plan a minimum of three months before the activity. A Society representative may provide guidance in the development of committee structure, marketing and deadlines.
- Any use of the name National MS Society or variation of this name (e.g. National Multiple Sclerosis Society) must be approved by the Society before promotion begins.
- The official name, National MS Society, and the We Joined the Movement logo should be appropriately used in conjunction with such an activity and may not be altered in any way.
- Use of the National MS Society logo, or any alteration of National MS Society logos, is prohibited on promotional materials, event logo design, and event items (e.g. t-shirts, mugs, etc.)
- The Society operates under the Better Business Bureau guidelines for charitable giving. In compliance with these guidelines, the Society requires full disclosure on all packaging, advertising or promotional materials when funds are raised through a Society-sponsored consumer purchase or promotion (e.g. $1 from the sale of each item). All DIY fundraisers that involve a consumer purchase or promotion must NOT state or imply that the Society is involved with the promotion. Any sponsor of the activity should be clearly identified and the amount or percentage of proceeds to be provided to the Society as the beneficiary should be stated (i.e. The Elks Club, Bob’s Variety, The Smith Family, is hosting X activity, “with 75% of net proceeds benefiting Jane Doe. Jane Doe intends to donate 100% of the money raised to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society” or Bob’s Variety is donating $1 per sale of product X to Jane Doe, who intends to donate 100% of the money received to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.”)
- Promotional materials and/or advertisements cannot be purchased with Society funds and are the responsibility of the organizer. The Society reserves the right to decline endorsement of an activity if other non-profit organizations are beneficiaries and/or involved in the activity without mutual compliance.
- Please feel welcome to use the following content describing the National MS Society in marketing/promotional materials:
About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. There is currently no cure for MS. Symptoms vary from person to person and range from numbness and tingling, to mobility challenges, blindness and paralysis. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.
About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
The National MS Society, founded in 1946, funds cutting-edge research, drives change through advocacy, and provides programs and services to help people affected by MS live their best lives. Connect to learn more and get involved: nationalMSsociety.org, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or 1-800-344-4867.
- The National MS Society cannot be held liable for details associated directly or indirectly with the event, including, but not limited to: expenses, purchases, insurance or liability coverage.
- The Society shall not be responsible, under any circumstance, for the promotion, set-up, pre-event, post-event or operational issues associated with a DIY activity. The organizer assumes all risk for expenses and liabilities, and agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the Society from any and all claims, obligations or liabilities associated with the DIY activity.
- Should the organizer choose to serve alcohol, to minimize risk, we recommend you do so via a "cash bar". In addition, the availability of alcohol should not be promoted. The responsibility of serving the alcohol to attendees and/or participants should remain with a third party (for ex. restaurant or facility staff etc.). Proof of age is required and signs should be posted to that effect. Alternative means of transportation should be available to attendees and/or participants. The third-party organizer agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the Society for any liability associated with the serving of alcohol at the DIY activity.
- Local municipalities and property owners will often require third-party organizers to provide evidence of insurance particularly when the activity involves a specific number of participants/attendees. Third-party organizers of DIY activities shall not rely on the Society’s insurance for the event. We recommend organizers comply with insurance requirements as you assume ALL risk associated with the activity.
- DIY organizers are also responsible for obtaining applicable permits and licensing in use of all public facilities and/or properties through the appropriate municipality and for obtaining any permits or licenses required for the event, such as a raffle or other gaming license. The Society has no responsibility for obtaining applicable licenses and permits and is legally prohibited from allowing third-parties to use the Society’s existing raffle or gaming licenses.
- To the extent that the DIY activity is physical in nature, the third-party organizer shall require all participants to execute event waivers that specifically release the Society from all claims relating to the participation in the DIY activity.
- In some instances, organizers may become involved with various vendors in support of the activity. It is recommended that vendors provide evidence of insurance and include the organizer as additionally insured.
Third-party fundraisers represent to The National MS Society the following upon signing off on the guidelines for DIY events and registering for DIY:
- All events will comply with all applicable laws during the planning, promotion and conduct of the event
- All necessary event insurance, licenses and permits will be obtained by the third-party organizer and will be in force through the conclusion of the event
- The event will result in no cost or expense to the National MS Society, unless expressly agreed to in writing to the contrary before the execution of the event
- Event organizer will report back to the National MS Society at the conclusion of their event to share any event challenges, complications and/or fundraising successes. If someone was injured or there was a potentially reputation-damaging incident at a third-party event, the event organizer shall reach out to the Society at their earliest convenience to provide the Society notice of the incident and complete an incident report.
- Organizer will indemnify and hold the National MS Society harmless for any claims of any nature whatsoever relating to or arising out of the event
The following activities are not permitted for DIY events:
- Base jumping
- Bull riding
- Car racing
- Extreme skiing (adaptive skiing is permitted)
- Hang Gliding
- Hot air ballooning
- Private aircraft travel
- Rock climbing
- Scuba diving
- Skateboarding with stunts involved
- Ski jumping
- White water rafting/kayaking (with class 3 rapids or above)
- Using firearms as a prize or raffle/auction item and conducting any activity with the use of a firearm
Alcohol is highly discouraged at an event unless it is believed to be important to the success of the event. But, we do recommend that if your event includes alcohol, try to limit the number of drinks each participant gets for “free” by providing drink tickets, or hire a licensed bartender to consider a participant’s level of consumption and age.
- While the Society does not prohibit gaming, such as raffles, at DIY events, it is the responsibility of each DIY organizer to make sure that any gaming activities conducted during a DIY event comply with state and local laws (many states only allow gaming when such gaming is conducted by a non-profit organization)
- Under no circumstances may a DIY organizer use a Society gaming license in order to conduct gaming activities
- All DIY activities should be accessible to people with disabilities. The activity should take place at a location that meets ADA regulations.
- DIY organizers should promote and make arrangements for any special accommodation needs of participants, volunteers, and/or staff.
- All promotional materials must clearly state the percentage of proceeds and/or the portion of the ticket price that will benefit the Society.
- The Society should receive all net proceeds within 30 business days of the conclusion of the activity and/or promotion.
- The Society should receive a list of targeted sponsors for the activity, before they are approached, to minimize overlap with other campaigns.
- The Society reserves the right to inspect all activity financial records and related expenses.
- The Society may request a list of all donors and sponsors who contributed cash and in-kind items to the activity.
- DIY organizers are responsible for tracking participants, sponsors and volunteers and mailing appropriate materials as needed.
- The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a charitable organization as defined under 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Any contribution to the Society qualifies as a deduction under Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code.
- Difficulty could arise when an independent, outside organization wishes to raise money for the Society. If the payments are made to this independent organization and it is not a qualified organization, the payments will not be deductible for income tax purposes. If the payments are made directly to the Society then such payments are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
- The Society may only issue donation receipts to those who donate directly to the Society. If you are collecting cash from participants and you want each participant’s donation to be separately recorded, you must submit the cash along with a list of names, addresses, phone numbers, and the amount donated from each participant. Otherwise, the full amount will be recorded as a donation from you and only one receipt will be generated. The Society may not provide blank donation receipts to DIY organizers and will only issue receipts directly to each donor.