Now that pandemic restrictions are being lifted, it is more crucial than ever that we channel this newfound freedom towards supporting meaningful causes. An exceptionally exciting way to do so is by attending a fundraising gala. Galas give guests the opportunity to support and learn more about a worthy cause while also enjoying a fabulous night out with others who share their philanthropic passion. If you’re wondering when your favorite annual gala will be taking place, or looking for some new ones to add to your calendar, here are 21 upcoming Chicago galas, listed in chronological order, to put on your radar.
When: September 1
Throughout the year, The Museum’s Women’s Leadership Committee aims to “increase awareness and provide fundraising support for the Illinois Holocaust Museum” through various educational efforts and social programming in the Chicago area. Their signature fundraising event is The Soirée, which brings together over 400 guests for a night of entertainment, food, silent auction, and meaningful messages from Holocaust Survivors and Museum leadership.
Where: Morton Arboretum or Virtual
When: September 10
JourneyCare serves as the largest provider of supportive, palliative and hospice care in Illinois. They provide quality care for nearly 3,000 adult and pediatric patients and their families each day. This September, you can support their organization by attending – whether in person or virtually – their Allstars of Project Runway event. The afternoon will feature a celebrity fashion show by stars from TV’s ‘Project Runway,’ a silent auction, and more. Tickets for both the in-person and virtual options can be purchased here.
When: September 10
For 138 years, Children’s Home & Aid has served as a leading child and family service agency in Illinois. As an organization, they partner with at risk children and their families to foster opportunities for them and create a brighter future. Each September, The Woman’s Board of Children’s Home & Aid hosts their annual gala to fundraise for early childhood care and education centers that provide services to thousands of children and families. This September, the event will be held virtually. However, attendees will still be able to bid on various silent auction items and raffles.
Where: Revel Fulton Market at 1215 W. Fulton Market.
When: September 10
The American Cancer Society’s ongoing mission is to “save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer.” The annual Skyline Soiree gala is run by the Chicago American Cancer Society’s Associate Board of Ambassadors (ABOA). ABOA is the American Cancer Society’s “organization for young professionals,” and has raised over $2.5 million since 2007 in the fight against cancer. The Skyline Soiree is their main event of the year; it is sure to be a wonderful night come this September.
When: September 10
The Shirley Ryan AbilityLab serves as the “first ever ‘translational’ research hospital,” where clinicians, scientists, innovators and technologists all collaborate and apply ongoing research to real-time physical medicine and rehabilitation. This #1-ranked research hospital by U.S. News aims to treat patients both physically and mentally following various injuries, including spinal cord and brain injuries, as well as strokes. Each fall, they host their “Art in Motion” Gala to raise funds for the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s Art Therapy and Therapeutic Recreation programs. As in past years, the gala will feature beautiful artwork from their very own patient artists.
When: September 14
The Annual Luncheon is the Chicago Foundation for Women’s signature fundraising event. This organization helps advocate for women in the Chicagoland area regarding inequities in policies, systems and institutions. Each year, The Luncheon plays a vital role in “continuing the conversation and preparing for the work ahead.” This year’s Luncheon is a particular can’t-miss, as it features political leader, voting rights activist, entrepreneur, and author Stacey Abrams as the keynote speaker. Register for the event here.
When: September 17
To inspire and education youth in hospitals, Snow City Arts provides instruction one-on-one instruction in visual arts, creative writing, music, and more to patients at Rush University Children’s Hospital, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and Children’s Hospital University of Illinois. Their Gallery Night in September will be a virtual celebration and auction to help further the organization’s mission. Donations for Gallery Night can be made here.
When: September 18
This September, the Adler Planetarium Celestial Ball will be held as a “virtual experience under the stars.” The annual Celestial Ball, hosted by the Adler Planetarium’s Woman’s Board, is the Planetarium’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Attendees are able to join one another from the comfort of their own living room for a celebration of “community, connection, and the universe that unites us.”
When: September 20-26
From September 20-26, art admirers can tune into the American Craft Exposition’s virtual show week — presented by The Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem. The craft show incorporates over 100 artisans exhibiting their one-of-a-kind pieces, including jewelry, ceramics, furniture, and basketry. Proceeds from the event go towards research initiatives at NorthShore University HealthSystem.
When: September 22
This year’s event theme is “Housing Creates Opportunity.” Guided by respect, justice, and mercy, Mercy Housing is committed to working towards social and housing justice. Their Moving Forward Together event will bring over 250 financial, real estate, government, and philanthropic leaders together to celebrate this past year’s accomplishments and to take a look ahead to the work that remains in housing justice throughout the Midwest. Tickets and donation information can be accessed here.
Where: 2401 N. Lake Shore Drive
When: September 22
Designs 4 Dignity is an organization that remodels nonprofit work environments through pro bono design services and in-kind donations. They recognize the immense influence of our physical surroundings, and ensure that they will transform given workplaces into environments that embody “hope, dignity, and comfort”. This September, they’re holding their annual Spirit of Design fundraiser. This fundraiser is promised to be a night filled with raffle prizes, craft cocktails, entertainment, and more. Proceeds will help Designs 4 Dignity “continue its commitment to empower lives through design.”
When: September 23
This September, be sure to join Chicago Debates for their 10th Annual Make Room for Debate Luncheon. This organization aims to support policy debate teams in Chicago Public Schools, and does so by recruiting schools and coaches, providing professional development for teachers, running training programs for students, and more.
Children’s Service Board of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago: 65th Annual Gold Coast Fashion Show
When: September 23
For over half a century, the Children’s Service Board has served as one of the most successful philanthropic affiliated organizations of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The Board is composed of a group of women who supporting the programs at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital through “service opportunities, collaborative energy and purpose-driven fundraising.” Their annual Gold Coast Fashion Show is their signature fundraising event, and raised over $1 million in 2019 for the Department of Family Services at Lurie Children’s. The event itself includes a fashion show from their exclusive retail sponsor, Neiman Marcus, food catered from Chicago’s top restaurants, dancing, and more.
Where: Offshore Rooftop on Navy Pier
When: September 24
Since 1993, the Environmental Law & Policy Center has served as the Midwest’s “leading environmental legal advocacy organization.” They tirelessly work to develop advocacy campaigns focused on improving environmental quality and protecting our natural resources. The ELPC will be hosting their annual gala this September outdoors at Offshore Rooftop on Navy Pier. All gala attendees are required to present proof of vaccination to enter.
Where: Plaza overlooking the Opera House
When: September 25
We are lucky to have one of the leading opera houses in the United States so close to home. Lyric is hosting an al fresco season opening gala on Saturday, September 25 titled “Lyric Under the Stars,” held at a plaza overlooking the opera house. More details coming soon!
When: September 28
After School Matters is a nonprofit organization that provides after-school and summer programming to almost 19,000 Chicago public high school students each year. They aim to provide these students with new opportunities, so that they can see their potential and develop their talents going into the future. The organization’s 30th Annual Gala will take place on September 28, where all proceeds will go towards supporting After School Matters programming.
When: October 1
The Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center works with the Medical Center itself to help provide the best healthcare possible for the diverse communities Rush serves. Their Fall Benefit will feature Chicago’s own Second City and include curated cocktails, a silent auction and raffle. This event will raise funds to support Rush University Medical Center’s education, research and community service programs, including their 2021 principal projectt: The Woman’s Board Fund for Precision Oncology Research.
Where: Hilton Chicago
When: October 2
The American Cancer Society’s annual Discovery Ball is an extravagant event held in the Hilton Chicago. This coming fall, attendees will come together at the Ball to “be a H.E.R.O.” — by helping ACS support their “Health Equity in Research Operations” campaign. This night will be filled with celebration and unity as everyone works towards their mission of ensuring “fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat and survive cancer.”
Where: Hybrid Format — Held at The Westin Hotel (400 Park Blvd, Itasca, IL 60143) or Virtually
When: October 2
About: WINGS Program Inc.’s Purple Tie Ball is a night dedicated to celebrating their strong Domestic Violence survivors and commemorating Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The WINGS Program Inc. 21st Annual Purple Tie Ball will be a spectacular evening filled with music by Maggie Speaks, silent and live auctions, and the presentation of the David K. Hill Award to a remarkable WINGS Program Inc. graduate. Throughout the year, WINGS Program Inc. is an organization that aims to “provide housing, integrated services, education and advocacy to end domestic violence.”
When: October 2
The Museum of Science and Industry’s annual Columbian Ball serves as their premier fundraising event. Proceeds from the event will go directly towards the Museum’s various education programs and initiatives.
When: October 14
Over 30 years ago, Friends of Prentice was founded as an organization to help advance the quality of women’s healthcare. They work in tandem with Northwestern Medicine Prentice Women’s Hospital, and further the hospital’s mission by “investing in emerging technologies and medical advancements.” This October, Friends of Prentice will be hosting their Annual Gala, which raised nearly $600,000 last fall.
When: October 21
The YMCA of Metro Chicago will be hosting their 8th Annual Recognition Dinner in late October. The evening will be dedicated to honoring the “Heroes Among Us” that “drive our work forward each and every day,” particularly those that played a large role in helping serve during the COVID19 healthcare crisis. The YMCA aims to “develop strong children, families and communities across Metropolitan Chicago through academic readiness, character development, violence prevention, fitness and healthy living.”
Where: Harris Theater
When: November 4
The Invest for Kids Annual Conference features presentations from a variety of well-known investment managers, who “present their market views and best investment ideas in concise 15 minute segments.” Speakers at last year’s event included Mark S. Hoplamazian of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Jean M. Hynes of Wellington Management, and Sam Zell of Equity Group Investments. All proceeds from the conference will go to nonprofit organizations serving Chicago area youth from disadvantaged communities.
When: November 5 & 6
The Chicago Urban League helps to promote strong, sustainable communities by helping people “find jobs, secure affordable housing, enhance their educational experiences, and grow their businesses.” This fall they’ll be holding their 60th Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner. All proceeds will go directly towards the organization, so that it can continue its service to thousands of Chicagoans annually.
When: November 12
PAWS’ annual Fur Ball is a notable “evening of elegance” which has, in the past, been held at the legendary Drake Hotel. The event boasts as Chicago’s only pet-friendly black-tie gala, and will surely be a night filled with excitement and furry friends! PAWS is an organization that strives to build No Kill communities that respect the life of every cat and dog, to end the overpopulation of homeless animals, and to transform animal welfare.
When: To be confirmed 11/15
Each year, Make It Better Media Group hosts our annual Philanthropy Awards. The awards program identifies, elevates, and amplifies the mission of well-deserved nonprofits. A variety of nonprofit organizations are nominated, and winners are selected by a panel of judges based on excellence, scalability, efficiency, leadership and effectiveness. To help the winning nonprofits carry out their missions, each one receives an award that includes professionally produced video promotion package, nonprofit leadership education scholarships, a cash gift, and more.
When: December 4
About: Since 1951, The Children’s Research Fund has been a principal benefactor of both the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute and the Patrick M. Magoon Institute for Healthy Communities at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. This initiative has helped improve the lives of countless children over the years by contributing to the hospital’s investigation in cancer, heart disease, and genetics microbiology and neonatology. They will be holding their annual Children’s Ball this December, which last year, raised over $2 million. Funds raised from the event will go directly to these two institutes at the hospital, and will be used for ongoing, extensive research.
More Galas to Keep on Your Radar:
- Women’s Board of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Symphony Ball
- Field Museum Women’s Board Gala
- UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Awards Luncheon
- Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation Fall Benefit Luncheon
- Jackson Chance Ping Pong Ball
- Service Club Of Chicago Annual Gala
- ROW Recovery on Water Winter Gala
- JDRF Illinois “One Dream Gala”
- Shedd Aquarium Annual Black Tie Gala
- YWCA Evanston North Shore Y Women Awards
This article will be updated regularly as details become available.
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Alexa Weinberg is a summer intern for the editorial staff at Better. She is currently working toward a Cognitive Science and Psychology degree at the University of Michigan with a minor in Writing. At school, she works to promote her love of writing through various organizations, including Project WriteOn and WOLV-TV. In her free time she enjoys running, reading, and spending time with friends and family.