Millennials fundraise with cotton candy, cupcakes, and jugglers


The fifth annual American Cancer Society gala is expected to raise more than $100,000 for cancer research, which would bring total fundraising for the event near $1 million.

Jessica Levco

Want to sip on a cotton candy martini for a great cause?

If you’re a Chicagoan, check out the American Cancer Society’s fourth annual “Skyline Soiree: Wish Big” on July 27 at River East Art Center.

The fundraiser is run by the American Cancer Society’s associate board of ambassadors. Since 2008, this young leadership board of 50 people has raised more than $850,000 for cancer research through this signature event.

Working together, the group decides on a venue, production schedule, food options, ticket sales, promotion, marketing, and sponsorships. It’s expected that more than 500 people will attend. The target audience for this event is young professionals, ages 20 to 40.

Each year, there’s a different theme for the soiree. This year, it’s “retro birthdays,” paying homage to The America Cancer Society’s theme, “Official Sponsor of Birthdays.”

“The event will remind people of their childhood, only it will be for adults,” says Amy Kramer, distinguished events specialist for the American Cancer Society. “We’ll have cotton candy martinis, cupcakes and birthday games.”

Previous themes have been “the 1920s” and “circus games.” For a look at the 2010 event, clickhere.

The event will include a cocktail reception, entertainment, juggling acts, a silent auction, raffle and a celebrity appearance by “Bachelorette” winner, Ed Swiderski.

“It’s a cool event—it’s very celebratory and very casual,” Kramer says.

The board doesn’t do any type of traditional or direct mail to market the event. Instead, it relies on its email blast,TwitterFacebookwebsite and its media partner, The Sun Times to get the word out.

The silent auction is paperless, too. Powered by a mobile bidding company, guests will bid on auction packages by texting or calling in their bids.

The goal is to raise $100,000 from the event, but Kramer is confident the event will surpass that number.

The board tweets two or three times a day about the event. Here are some:

Our wish is for @kathythemix to join us at the ACS #SkylineSoiree:WishBig on 7/27. Will she grant our wish?

We are thrilled to announce that Final Say: a @maggiespeaks band will be performing at #SkylineSoiree on July 27th!

We are thrilled to announce that @eswiderski will be joining us at #SkylineSoiree on July 27th!

“We don’t want to waste our donor dollars on direct mail,” Kramer says, adding that social media “is a great way to reach out to people.”

To attend the event, click here.

Is your hospital or health organization having a special fundraiser? Tell us about it! Email Jessica Levco at


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