The Outsider's Advantage
- New and fresh: the media learned to ignore calls from MS organizations. However, the media is always looking for something new, different. This is why, while calls from MS well established organizations have been ignored, the media pick up ours.
- Identifying with the broader public: If you have a problem, it is very difficult to get others to care. But more will listen if you talk to them about other people's problems. Most people do not have MS, so they cannot relay to MS organizations. But they have been very receptive to us talking about the problems of those living with MS. If we don't have MS but care about the cause, maybe they should too.
- No legacy donor base: We did not have a donor base, so were free to choose our goals, and then find the people that believed in them. And our donors understand our aim is to do things differently, and complement the efforts of existing MS organizations, so they expect change and new directions.
"It is bold, imaginative and independent projects such as Fly for MS, that advance the effort to raise awareness for the challenges of living with MS and the funds needed to move us closer to a world free of the disease." - U.S. National MS Society
Recognized as one of the most important contributions to the MS cause
Fly for MS delivered the keynote speech at the U.S. National MS Society's largest 2010 event. The NMSS has 800,000 members and 1 million volunteers.
Risk and Reward
- No risk, limited reward: The most successful and powerful MS organizations are the largest ones, for instance the ones in the U.S., the UK, Germany and Italy. But the larger and more established an organization, the more conservative, and the more difficult it is to take risks for fear of damaging the existing reputation.
- Calculated risk-takers: Taking calculated risks is in our DNA. Many of us came from Wall Street, which is all about risk taking. And flying a small plane taught us even more about taking calculated risks. So, we are able to take risks others may find too great.
- Big risks, big reward: We do believe that reward is generally proportional to the risk, as long as the risk is well understood. This is true in finance, and tends to be true in life in general. So, we risked. We took off having raised only one third of the funds needed to complete the journey. We hoped once people saw what we did, more donations will come. And it happened. We planned 75 days of events in 30 countries, knowing that the weather or problems with the plane would throw the entire schedule off. But we provided for "buffer" days, designed the itinerary to minimize delays, and ... we were lucky: we only had to cancel one event. We took a small, 40-year old plane over the ocean, around the world, doing something only 300 people have ever done before. But prior crossings of the Atlantic, lots of research and planning, helped us minimize the inherent risks. And we knew that only by taking these risks we will make people pay attention. And they did.
"The beauty and power of FLY for MS has touched us deeply. It will be unforgettable to all MSers in the world and vital to raise public awareness. It will change the present and future of MS." – Portugal MS Society
"We are very impressed by how imaginative your effort is and by its ambitious scope. Frankly, we have tried to put on a global show, but have not been able to." – U.S. National MS Society
More reactions from MS organizations >
Reactions from people with MS >
MS International Federation invites Fly for MS
to speak in front of 45 CEOs of National MS organizations in recognition of its contribution to adding a global dimension to the MS movement
Giving the Media what it Wants
- Media is the gatekeeper of public opinion: getting the attention of media is key to changing public opinion. For us, the focus on the media was not an after thought, as is the case for many MS organizations, but a key focus.
- Journalists are people too: journalists have a job to do, and that is generating interesting content. But, like all people, they'd like their job to be fun also. This is why we invited journalists not only to cover our mission, but to actually fly with us. Having the chance to enjoy the thrill of flying would make it more likely they'd cover us instead of something less exciting.
- Designed to provide interesting content: our mission was meant to inspire people with MS, but also to attract media, and therefore public, attention. We designed our journey always thinking how we can provide the content that the media would find interesting for its audience. This another reason for which we invited journalists to fly along with people with MS: interviewing them on the plane and seeing their reaction live, would of course be much more interesting than a typical interview on the ground.
More media coverage >
"We would not cover an MS event, but this is cool" - TV journalist, London, UK
MS on the evening TV news for the very first time - Dublin, Ireland
TV crews had to share flights - Barcelona, Spain