Get Fit, Sip Wine, Rock Out: 5 Fun Ways to Give Back Around Chicago

5 Ways to Give Back (and Have Fun While Doing It): Lyric Opera Wine Auction

Are you passionate about giving back, but also wonder how people find the time away from work and family commitments to volunteer? If you’re short on time, but also want to get more involved with worthy nonprofits in your community, there are countless charity events that offer the perfect opportunity to not only learn more about an organization, meet the people behind it, and hear from other supporters, but also to have a blast! If you love having something special to look forward to on your calendar, here are five cool ways to get some fun on the books while giving back in the process.

1. Attend a Gala

fun ways to give back: UNICEF Gala
The Ken Arlen Evolution Orchestra at UNICEF USA’s Hope Gala in 2017. (Photo courtesy of Gustavo Caballero for Getty Images/UNICEF USA)

Support a local nonprofit by drinking champagne, dining, and dancing at a black-tie event at one of Chicago’s most impressive venues.

  • The Joffrey Ballet presents the Joffrey Gala on April 20, 2018, with a performance at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University followed by cocktails, dinner, and dancing at the Palmer House Hilton.
  • The UNICEF Gala Chicago will take place on April 28, 2018, at the Geraghty. This gala is celebrating its 11th year of saving and improving children’s lives in 190 countries around the world.
  • The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) presents Whirl 2018 at Brookfield Zoo on April 28, 2018. The evening will fundraise for the CZS’s efforts in innovative conservation tactics to preserve earth’s species and its habitats.
  • The Goodman Theatre Gala will take place on May 19, 2018, at the Fairmont Chicago. The Goodman Theatre is Chicago’s oldest and largest nonprofit theater, which provides many educational and community based opportunities for the arts in Chicago.
  • The Shedd Aquarium’s black tie Gala on June 9, 2018, will raise money for the aquarium’s conservation and education programs.
  • The Lincoln Park Zoo presents the Zoo Ball 2018: Zoobilee on July 13, 2018. Hosted by the Women’s Board, the gala will raise money for new initiatives at the zoo, including renovation of the Kovler Lion House.

2. Run a 5K

Use a charity as an excuse to get in shape by registering for one of the races below.

  • BT5K Chicago will take place on April 22, 2018, at Soldier Field to support the American Brain Tumor Association and its research, programs, and support services.
  • Move for the Kids, in support of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, is on May 20, 2018.
  • Run for the Zoo on June 3, 2018, will support Lincoln Park Zoo, which offers free entry to all families.
  • PAWS Chicago 5K Walk/Run at Montrose Harbor-Grove 16 on June 3, 2018, will support PAWS, an animal shelter dedicated to ending kill shelters.

For a more exhaustive list of races and training tips, read “Ready to Run: How to Train for a 5K.”

3. Sip Some Wine

fun ways to give back: Lyric Opera Wine Auction
The Lyric Opera Wine Auction (Getty)

Wine lovers can come together to drink or bid on fine wines and learn from sommeliers.

  • The Lyric Opera Wine Auction will take place on April 14, 2018, at the Ken Pigott Stage of the Ardis Krainik Theatre. The event, hosted by the Women’s Board, raises money for the Lyric Opera’s community engagement efforts. A champagne reception accompanied by a silent auction is followed by dinner and a live auction, with items ranging from fine wines to an African safari. Pricing, starting at $1,500 for one ticket, can be found here. Email [email protected] to reserve your spot at this special evening. (Learn more about wine auctions with our guide to scoring the best lots.)
  • Chicago Wine Fest at the Lincoln Park Zoo will take place on zoo grounds on April 14, 2018. Guests can sample the world’s finest wines while listening to live music. A portion of all proceeds will go to Lincoln Park Zoo.

4. Listen to Music

Music events are family-friendly ways to engage with the community while having fun.

5. Attend a Lecture

In a city surrounded by universities, museums, and zoos, there are always opportunities to hear from inspiring speakers in Chicago.

  • Join the Chicago Council on Global Affairs to choose from an exhaustive list of exciting lectures by the world’s brightest leaders, including Madeleine Albright on April 20, and join a public discourse on the most pressing issues in our world today.


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Macon BianucciMacon Bianucci is a student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She is an intern at Make It Better for her final quarter at Northwestern, and she enjoys writing about social justice issues and politics. Macon is a longtime supporter of The Foundation For Tomorrow, a NGO in Tanzania that provides education and support for orphaned and vulnerable children.