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Why One Nonprofit Opted for a Smaller Fund-Raiser

For the 25th anniversary of its A Time for Heroes event, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation whittled 1,000 people off of last year's guest list in order to give donors and their families an intimate experience.

By Rose Curiel October 23, 2014, 7:45 AM EDT

Photo: Clint Easley/Peak Photography

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation celebrated its 25th annual “A Time For Heroes” fund-raiser on Sunday with a few longstanding traditions, while also introducing a couple key changes to mark the milestone anniversary. For starters, organizers dropped the guest count significantly from last year’s 1,500 invitees to this year’s 500, who converged at Culver City’s Book Bindery.

“We really wanted to honor our closest and most dedicated supporters,” said foundation's event director, Stephanie Vaughan, who has worked on the event for 10 years. “This year, it’s a little bit more intimate.”

The team’s decision to hold the majority of the event indoors for the first time—only two food trucks and sports-theme stations sat outside—also added to the intimate vibe and lent the fund-raiser a “hipper, more urban feel,” according to Vaughan.

But an enclosed venue and smaller guest count didn’t mean the nonprofit skimped on entertainment options at the historically family-friendly event. On the contrary, Vaughan and her team, who tapped Simply Troy to help produce the fund-raiser, offered an eclectic mix of activities to reflect the broad age range among guests.

“We have a lot of tweens between the ages of 9 and 13 attend the event, but there are also a lot of 18- to 25-year-old children of supporters who are still coming,” Vaughan said.

For younger guests, sponsor Disney erected a “Creativity Area” complete with a Big Hero 6 photo booth and an “Imagination Playground” stocked with puzzles. Elsewhere, kids could have a professional comic book artist sketch them as a comic book hero—a nod to the event’s name—or pick up temporary tattoos or hair-chalking treatments.

Meanwhile, stations that offered customizable items, like an iPhone case decorated with a personal photo downloaded from guests’ phones or monogrammed leather bracelets, proved popular among older guests.

As for parents, they could energize themselves at the Coffee Bean station or opt for a glass of wine from the adults-only One Hope Wine bar.

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