The warmer weather means one thing for Toronto’s social scene regulars and party-loving philanthropists: Fundraiser Season.
Offering the only excuse you need to rock that conversation-provoking dress or crisp editorial-worthy suit and avoid any early meetings the next day, Toronto was full of fundraisers this spring. From galas infused with performance art and boxing matches to installation-filled adult playgrounds, these seven Toronto fundraisers hit the mark when it came to generating dollars and perk-packed parties worth posting about.
Not only does the Canadian Opera Company’s (COC) annual Operanation fundraiser raise valuable funds for the important arts institution, it removes the stuffiness historically associated with opera, opening it up to a younger (decidedly hipper) demographic. Held on Thursday, May 17, Operanation filled the Four Seasons Centre with glammed-out guests for an evening of art, eats, music, and fashion. Party perks included a mash-up performance by members of the COC’S Ensemble Studio and electro pop duo Brave Shores, who wowed the dressed-to-impress onlookers that looked on from each level of the stunning venue.
Waterstone Foundation Garden Party
On May 31, an assortment of well-heeled guests of all ages filled the sprawling backyard – which was complete with a sparkling swimming pool – of an Etobicoke estate for the Waterstone Foundation Garden Party. Benefitting the Waterstone Foundation, an organization that drives progress in the fight against eating disorders, the evening included no shortage of flowing cocktails, food stations filled with gourmet grub, and a moving and powerful speech by Leysa Cerswell-Kielburger (who is married to philanthropist Craig Kielburger), who lost her older sister Michale from complications of a long-term eating disorder. The event raised $200,000 for the cause.
As usual, Power Ball – the Power Plant’s annual fundraising bash – offered a reunion for Toronto’s movers and shakers in a stimulation overload, adult funhouse of an event that featured over-the-top and Instagram-worthy art installations at every turn. Taking over both indoor space and breezy lakeside real estate of the contemporary art gallery, talking points of this year’s Power Ball included the Tracheal Chute slide from the second-floor balcony (for guests of the VIP portion, that is), nostalgic fairway games, gourmet midway-themed eats, a Krispy Kreme installation made with 2000 doughnuts, and on-site carnival-inspired tattoos for those brave enough to get inked.
Fight to End Cancer
Front and centre at the Fight to End Cancer (FTEC) black tie gala is a boxing ring – and 10 incredibly devoted newbie boxers. This year’s FTEC fundraising gala took over the Old Mill on Saturday, June 2, in an event that offered ample entertainment value and generated needed dollars for the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. Founded in 2011, FTEC has generated over $1,000,000 to date for the cause. The concept is an impressive one: 10 participants with a will to take up boxing tryout, train intensely for months, and – finally – participate in a boxing match watched by hundreds, all while raising precious dollars along the journey for cancer research.
Scrubs in the City
It was feast for the eyes for the fashion-loving set, as some of the city’s best-dressed and most photographed set hit the Evergreen Brick Works on Thursday, June 7 for the annual Scrubs in the City bash to support SickKids. Never an event to cut corners this year’s themed event invited guests to indulge in the sights, architecture, tastes, and entertainment of Rome. Talking points included Italian eats from favourite spots like Buca and Piano Piano (to name a few), a six-piece band, and a luxurious auction. The event raised over $820,000.
Mad Hot Ballet
On Wednesday, June 13, Mad Hot Ballet invited guests to bust out their disco moves and 70s-inspired outfits and hit the Four Seasons Centre for a dance-filled night to benefit the National Ballet of Canada. Party perks included an hour-long performance by some of the city’s top ballet talent complete with a live orchestra, a gourmet meal by Mark McEwan’s North 44 Caters for VIP guests, signature cocktails, a MAC glitter bar, and special guests from the free spirited 70s. The evening raised an impressive $1.3 million to support the National Ballet programming and artists.
SickKids All-Star Gala
To round off the season of frolicking and fundraising, on Friday, June 15, the annual All-Star Gala in Support of SickKids filled the Toronto Event Centre (formerly Muzik) with 1, 250 of the city’s finest young professionals, local celebrities, and pro athletes. Filled with flowing cocktails (and, refreshingly, short wait times at the bars), a jam-packed silent auction, live music from DJs and musicians, and a crowd that was looking to shake off the workweek in fine form, the evening raised funds to support an important research project that aims to eliminate brain damage in newborns with congenital heart disease (CDH).
If you missed these (and are left with an inevitable sense of FOMO), there’s always next year – these events have become annual spring fundraiser staples.