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What You’ve Been Waiting For: Non-Traditional Style Gala

Are you tired of going to a gala where you are served a chicken dinner and are stuck at a table talking only to a few people? Would you rather send a check than actually go to the event? What if we were to tell you that we helped formulate a new fundraising model – a model that engages your senses, surprises you throughout the evening, excites you to interact with hands-on activities, and takes down barriers so guests feel comfortable to network with everyone at the event while donating to your cause.

We piloted this concept for The Nature Conservancy’s 60th Anniversary Gala and it received rave reviews from the 500 high-level donors, sponsors, guests & executive team raising over $1M for the organization.  There was plenty of seating, no lines for food or at the bars, lots of incredible, interactive elements including activation stations surrounding their 5 pillars of work (land, water, people, climate & cities) and a passport system that encouraged the journey throughout the event. Much of the focus of the evening was on friend-raising in addition to fundraising and this event exceeded all of their goals.

This non-traditional gala model is an immersive journey into the brand of the foundation/organization filled with interactive elements and messaging at every turn.  There is no traditional seating, there is no traditional experience and there is no traditional fundraising.  The evening is filled with the unexpected, keeping guests mingling and moving throughout.


Q1 Recap

PWE’s first quarter was packed with a wide range of events and experiences from multi-day conferences to sales incentive trips, foundation events and milestone birthdays. Never before has the first quarter been so busy!


BCU All Employee Weekend

Paulette Wolf Events leads the industry in producing complex multi-day events and that is exactly what we did for Baxter Credit Union (BCU). Every 5 years, BCU brings together its employee’s from near (Chicago) and far (Puerto Rico) to connect with each other and learn best practices. Over 550 employees attended this year’s 3-day conference at the Hyatt Rosemont. This conference included inspiring keynote sessions by influential speakers such as Scott Stratten and David Mead, as well as industry-focused breakout sessions led by key executives and managers. PWE designed and managed BCU’s custom conference mobile app that gave guests access to the overall agenda, speaker information, hotel map, communication and interaction between attendees, as well as allowed guests to sign up for breakout sessions and create their own schedule.

The main highlight from the weekend included the launch of the new BCU logo and brand! An Oprah style giveaway took place on the first day, which gave employees all newly branded BCU swag.


Milestone Birthday

One week later PWE produced a surprise milestone birthday. This intimate surprise party began with a unique invitation. Each guest received a one-of-a-kind invitation featuring a blue velvet box with a large puzzle piece inviting them to a surprise party, giving directions to bring the enclosed puzzle piece with them and asking for five words to describe the guest of honor. Those words would later be showcased throughout the décor, video montage, entertainment and a birthday special gift of custom dinner plates with each guests’ words around the perimeter of the plate and with his/her name on the back. These plates were displayed at the party for all to view.

It was important to the host that every detail from the food to the entertainment, décor, gifts, flowers and photos were all comprised of the honoree’s most favorite things, including a giant chocolate chip cookie cake made by the James Beard Award winner, Mindy Segal. We brought in Cottage Inn pizza from the guest of honor’s Alma Mater college campus as well as her favorite frozen custard in Michigan, Gillies. We even had a McDonald’s food station serving burgers, fries and orange soda.

The main décor focal piece was an illuminated portrait of the guest of honor in a modern art style similar to Chuck Close. This art installation was also an interactive experience for guests. Guests used the puzzle pieces that they received in their invitation to assemble the photo. Entertainment included Live Band Karaoke and a surprise performance by Vertical Horizon, one of the guest of honor’s favorite bands.


Incentive Travel/Destination Meetings

An area of our business that especially excites us is our incentive travel and destination meetings and events. For the last 45 years, PWE has traveled across the world producing and managing these types of events for an array of clients. Recently, we produced sales meetings in Boulder, Colorado & Phoenix, Arizona consisting of private dinners, team building activities and all-day meetings with food & beverage and A/V.