The Best Chicago Charity Galas to Attend in 2023

Gala season is upon us, and there is no shortage of charity events to attend in Chicago this year. These parties with purpose allow you to support worthy causes while enjoying action-packed days and evenings filled with socializing, dinners, cocktails, performances, dancing and more. Read on for our list of the best Chicago-area galas in 2023, listed by month.

Editor’s Note: Please check each event’s website for the most up-to-date details.


Box United Annual Golden Gala

When: Thursday, March 30, 6:00 pm

Where: Chicago Winery

The Golden Gala helps bring Box United’s Fight Like a Girl program to 10 new Chicago schools, benefitting 200 girls. The program uses boxing and leadership development as a pathway for girls to unlock their full potential.  


CMAA Voice and Vision

When: Thursday, April 13

Where: Galleria Marchetti

Celebrate 40 years of lifting the voices of Asian and immigrant communities at the Chinese Mutual Aid Association’s 40th Anniversary Gala. CMAA’s mission is to serve the needs, promote the interests, enhance the well-being of low-income immigrants and refugees of all generations, and foster their participation in U.S. society.

Reason to Hope

When: Thursday, April 27 at 12pm

Where: Union League Club of Chicago

This year, join hundreds of passionate supporters of the Alzheimer’s Association as they help change the path of Alzheimer’s disease at Reason to Hope — a luncheon hosted at the Union League Club of Chicago. The inspiring, one-hour event will feature powerful testimonies from individuals facing Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well as updates on the vital work of the Alzheimer’s Association. This event, emceed by WGN-TV Evening News Anchor Ray Cortopassi, is a great opportunity to learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association and support their critical mission. To learn more, visit the Reason to Hope website.

Night of Dreams Gala

When: Saturday, April 29, 6:30 pm

Where: The Ritz-Carlton

Have Dreams’ mission is to help individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) learn, function independently, and socialize so that they may realize their full potential and develop into contributing members of their communities. Their annual Night of Dreams Gala supports this effort and treats attendees to cocktails, dinner, raffle, dancing, and their signature Dreams of a Lifetime Live Auction.

Chicago Heart Ball

When: Saturday, April 29, 6:00 pm

Where: Aon Grand Ballroom, Navy Pier

The American Heart Association celebrates the collective success in driving change, funding science, and improving behaviors for a heart-healthy life through the Heart of Chicago Heart Ball campaign. The night’s event will include a social reception, silent and live auctions, and an engaging program.


The Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center Annual Spring Luncheon

When: Monday, May 1, 11:00 am

Where: Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

The 28th Annual Spring Luncheon will feature the Academy Award-Winning Actor, Author, Founder, and Chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Geena Davis. Funds raised from this event will support the RUSH campaign.

Family Focus Dream Builders Dinner

When: Thursday, May 4, 6:00 pm

Where: Four Seasons Chicago 

Family Focus is a non-profit organization that strengthens families in the Chicago area so they can achieve upward economic mobility through programs and services rooted in anti-racism and social justice. The event will feature guest speaker Juan Salgado, Chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago, and a special memorial tribute to Family Focus Founder Bernice Weissbourd.

Build Gala 2023

When: Friday, May 5

Where: Navy Pier

BUILD supports Chicago’s youth with street violence prevention and intervention, out-of-school activities, summer camps, mental health care, educational support, and more. The Annual Gala is the event that raises funds for efforts to face gang violence and provide assistance in overcoming trauma.  

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Butterfly Ball 2023

When: Friday, May 5, 6 pm cocktails | 8 pm dinner, program, and dancing

Where: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Over the last 24 years, Butterfly Ball has raised $40 million in support of the Chicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. This support enables the Nature Museum to significantly impact the community through educational experiences for Chicago’s children.

Lyric Opera of Chicago presents Wine Auction 2023

When: Saturday, May 13, 5:30 pm

Where: Lyric Opera of Chicago

Since its inception in 1988, Wine Auction has raised more than $11 million in support of Lyric Opera of Chicago. Traditionally held by the Women’s Board every three years, Wine Auction 2018 netted a record-breaking $2.2 million and was named a “Top Charity Wine Auction” by Wine Spectator. This formal affair draws 400 guests from around the country and features a reception, elegant dinner, and live auction.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company 2023 Gala

When: Saturday, May 13, 6:30 pm

Where: The Old Post Office

Photo by Kyle Flubacker

Steppenwolf’s Gala generates funding for their Ensemble, which brings bold and innovative theatrical experiences to the stage and creates educational programs that reach thousands of teens throughout Chicago. Join Steppenwolf artists and leaders for cocktails, dancing, a gourmet seated dinner, and a live auction.

Music Institute of Chicago Gala Benefit

When: Monday, May 15, 5:30 pm

Where: The Peninsula Chicago 

The Music Institute of Chicago (MIC) hosts its Annual Gala Benefit to support high-quality and accessible music education for all. This year’s event will honor trailblazing women who inspire the next generation in the classical music world. The evening begins with an hour-long, private cocktail reception in The Peninsula’s award-winning restaurant, The Lobby, followed by a lavish dinner in the ballroom. Musical performances throughout the evening include vocal students from the Music Institute’s Community Music School, chamber music from MIC’s renowned Academy for gifted pre-college musicians, and a performance of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 for soprano and an orchestra of cellos.

Merit School of Music Gala 2023

When: Wednesday, May 17

Where: Four Seasons Chicago 

Photo by © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2022

The Merit School of Music gala works to provide equal access and excellence in music education. Enjoy a night of fantastic student performers and honor Liz Stiffel for her contributions to the arts.

Spirit of Design’s Annual Fundraiser

When: Wednesday, May 17, 6:00 pm

Where: Theater on the Lake

Designs for Dignity is a Chicago nonprofit transforming nonprofit environments voluntarily and without payment. Their mission is to empower through design. Spirit of Design is Designs for Dignity’s signature annual fundraiser accompanied by cuisine, cocktails, and live music.

Ingenuity Presents Tapestry: Weaving Equity for Arts Education

When: Thursday, May 18, 6pm

Where: Peninsula Chicago 

Ingenuity works to increase arts education access, quality, and equity in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in response to decades of artistic divestment. The event will celebrate Ingenuity’s annual achievements driving systems-level change for Chicago’s arts education ecosystem.

2023 OMD Degrees of Impact Gala

When: Friday, May 19, 6:00 pm

Where: Rockwell on the River

One Million Degrees is the only organization in Illinois dedicated to providing comprehensive support to low-income community college students. From tutors and coaches to financial assistance and professional development, OMD empowers scholars. Join the Annual Degrees of Impact Gala to support this cause

The Goodman Theatre Gala

When: Saturday, May 20

Where: Fairmont Chicago

Goodman Theatre Gala, this year featuring actor Darren Criss

Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning performer Darren Criss will headline the “La Vita E Bella / Life Is Beautiful” 2023 Goodman Gala. Celebrating the Goodman Theatre Women’s Board’s 45th anniversary, the black-tie event begins with a cocktail reception, a performance, and an elegant three-course dinner. It concludes with dancing to the sounds of The Gentlemen of Leisure. All proceeds benefit Goodman’s Education and Engagement programs.

Shirley Ryan Ability Lab’s Annual Spark Gala

When: Thursday, May 25, 6 pm

Where: Rockwell on the River

Recognized as a top rehabilitation center for more than 30 years, the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab introduces its revolutionary care through five Innovation Centers. Each Innovation Center focuses on an area of biomedical science: brain, spinal cord, nerve, muscle/bone, pediatric, and cancer. The annual Spark! Gala supports these efforts.

The Big Fish Ball 

When: Wednesday, May 31

Where: Westin River North

The Big Fish Ball is Friends of the River’s largest fundraising event. It brings together hundreds of leaders and young professionals from the Chicago community to celebrate the vibrancy of the Chicago-Calumet River system. The night will honor the Chicago River Blue Awards recipients, which celebrate the highest achievement in river-sensitive designs along the river.

Spring Hat Luncheon

When: Monday, May 8

Where: The Langham Hotel

The Service Club’s 2023 Spring Luncheon is a day to come together and celebrate with co-chairs Julia Jacobs, Bethany Florek, and Whitney Reynolds for what is definitively THE Hat Luncheon in Chicago!

Enjoy celebrity guest Heather Gay in conversation with member and national talk show host Whitney Reynolds as they discuss all the hats people wear and how to wear them well! Guests are encouraged to wear their finest millinery and showcase their unique style for the Annual Hat Contest. This year’s theme is “The Many Hats We Wear.”


The 74th Annual Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago Woman’s Board Summer Ball

When: Friday, June 2

Where: Theater on the Lake

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago serve young people ages 5 to 18. They provide not only emotional support but educational and physical support as well. This Summer Ball supports the Women’s Board and goes toward these efforts.

Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund 34th Annual Golf Classic

When: Monday, June 5

Where: Exmoor, Knollwood, Lake Shore, Northmoor, Onwentsia, Shoreacres, and Skokie country clubs

The DMSF’s Golf Classic celebrates the 34th year of igniting potential and enriching lives. Help provide educational access for high-achieving students with limited financial means to attend college prep high school, with the opportunity for college and life-long success.

ELPC’s 30th Anniversary Gala

When: Friday, June 9

Where: Navy Pier Aon Grand Ballroom

The Environmental Law & Policy Center’s Gala funds go toward using legal, public policy, and communication tools to improve the environment and economy. This summer event is the 30th Anniversary Gala to celebrate the collective work accomplished over the last 30 years to protect the Midwest’s environment.

2023 Celebrity Golf Classic

When: Sunday, June 11 and Monday, June 12

Where: Rich Harvest Farms

Jermaine Dye of the Chicago White Sox will host the 8th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic. The event will feature the PXG Celebrity Shootout Sunday afternoon, a Celebrity Golf Classic Pre-Tournament Dinner following the Shootout, and Monday’s main golf tournament. Guests will mingle with MLB, NFL, NBA, and LPGA friends as well as other celebrities. Funds from the event support low-income, uninsured, and underinsured children with physical deformities through comprehensive healthcare treatments at no cost to the children and their families.

Chicago History Museum’s Making History Awards

When: TBD

Where: TBD

The Making History Awards will host Chicago History Museum leadership and give insight into the Museum’s current initiatives and exhibitions. This event provides financial support to the Chicago History Museum’s programs which are the backbone of their scholarship and civic engagement efforts.


Lincoln Park Zoo Ball: Reaching New Heights

When: Friday, July 14

Where: Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo’s community engagement initiatives prioritize working with organizations and residents to establish long-term relationships and create change that benefits wildlife. This ball supports these efforts and is presented by the Women’s Board of Lincoln Park Zoo.

Ravinia Gala 2023

When: TBD

Where: TBD

This Gala, hosted by the Women’s Board, benefits Ravinia’s Reach*Teach*Play education programs. Annually, these programs engage more than 75,000 students and community members in interactive, free musical opportunities throughout Cook and Lake Counties.


Birdies & Books Charity Golf Classic 

When: Monday, August 28

Where: Shoreacres

Birdies & Books is the longest-running fundraising event for Bernie’s Book Bank, which provides books for underserved Chicagoland children. This signature event affords players a meaningful and exclusive golf experience at one of the top 55 courses in America


American Cancer Society Skyline Soiree

When: Friday, September 8, 700 pm

Where: Morgan MFG

The Associate Board of Ambassador’s annual gala, Skyline Soiree, is Chicago’s premier young professional celebration that raises funds to support the lifesaving mission of the American Cancer Society. Guests can expect an evening filled with live entertainment, tasting stations, beverages, VIP experiences, and many other exciting activities.

Annual Celestial Bash

When: Saturday, September 9

Where: Adler Planetarium

The Celestial Ball is the Adler Planetarium’s biggest fundraising event of the year. Proceeds from the event support the Adler’s approach to scientific exploration, celebrating community and connection to the universe. Attendees can expect to dance the night away under the celestial dome of the Grainger Sky Theater.

Children’s Service Board Gold Coast Fashion Show

When: Monday, September 18, 11:30 am & Thursday, September 21, 6:00 pm

Where: The Peninsula & The Geraghty

The Children’s Service Board of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is hosting the fashion show which will support The Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health. Monday will be a luncheon while Thursday will be for evening cocktails.

CSO Symphony Ball

When: Saturday, September 23

Where: Buntrock Hall and The Four Seasons Hotel Chicago

The Women’s Board of the CSOA invites sponsors and gala attendees to a private pre-concert reception before enjoying dinner, dancing, and festivities. The concert will feature Conductor Riccardo Muti and Violinist Leonidas Kavakos. Proceeds of the event go to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association.

American Cancer Society’s Discovery Ball

When: Saturday, September 30

Where: Hilton Chicago 

For more than 100 years, The American Cancer Society has been leading the fight to end cancer. This annual black-tie event includes a live auction, silent auction, and raffle to support the American Cancer Society’s fight to free the world of cancer through research, support, and education.

Lyric Opera’s Season Opening Gala

When: TBD

Where: Lyric Opera of Chicago

© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2018

Lyric’s Season Opening Gala is a project of the Women’s Board. It is a night of celebration that includes cocktails, dinner and dancing.

Rush University Medical Center Woman’s Board Fall Benefit

When: TBD

Where: TBD

Funds from this event will support Rush University Medical Center’s principal project and the Medical Center’s education, research, and community service programs.


WINGS Purple Tie Ball

When: Saturday, October 7, 2023

Where: Westin Hotel

The mission of WINGS Program, Inc. is to provide housing, integrated services, education, and advocacy to end domestic violence. Funds from the night’s event go toward serving their efforts.


The Service Club of Chicago Annual Gala

When: Friday, November 3

Where: Four Seasons Hotel

This gala is the largest annual fundraiser to support The Service Club’s Philanthropic Grant program. Join Chair Patty Marx and the Gala Committee at the Four Seasons Grand Ballroom as the backdrop for lively libations, delicious food, and stunning décor! The night will include live and silent auctions filled with one-of-a-kind items and music by The Ron Bedal Orchestra.

PAWS Chicago Fur Ball

When: Friday, November 10

Where: Drake Hotel

The PAWS Chicago Fur Ball is Chicago’s premier pet-friendly black-tie event. This unique gala invites guests to dress their pets in formal four-legged wear and walk the red carpet for a celebration to benefit PAWS Chicago. Guests will enjoy silent and live auctions, raffle, dancing, and dinner buffets. Lucky dogs in attendance will also be treated to a divine dinner served in crystal goblets at the special dog buffet and can enjoy pawdicures, massages, and pet-friendly spritzes in the Dog Spa.

Erikson Institute’s 2023 Annual Luncheon

When: TBD

Where: TBD

The Erikson Institute is a higher education facility committed to ensuring all students have equitable opportunities. The 2022 Annual Luncheon was the most successful event. It raised more than $3 million and drew more than 1,200 people to the Chicago Hilton Towers.


The Service Club of Chicago Holiday Luncheon

When: Tuesday, December 5

Where: Union League Club

Join the ladies of Service Club and Co-Chaires Debi Catenacci, Lezley Hodes, and Karen Peters to celebrate the season in style. This event occurs in The Union League Club’s stunning Lincoln Hall, with caroling and vendors offering unique gift ideas.

Children’s Research Fund Campaign & Children’s Ball

When: TBD

Where: TBD

Children’s Research Fund Celebrates 25 Years With Lurie Children’s Hospital

Each year the Children’s Research Fund welcomes recognized leaders in the business and philanthropic community to oversee the annual fundraising campaign and Children’s Ball. Since 1951, these efforts have raised more $125 million to support innovative medical research.

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Jessica Braun Gervais is a Chicago-based freelance writer specializing in health, wellness, and fitness. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from Columbia College and has written content for various health and wellness institutions. Jessica Braun’s passion for wellness comes from her life as an elite athlete competing in Muay Thai kickboxing competitions across the country. In addition to sharing her expertise through writing, Jessica Braun also works as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer. When she’s not writing or training, Jessica Braun enjoys reading historical fiction novels, discovering new coffee shops, and cuddling with her cattle dog, Brady.