Donor Recognition

Recognition Reboot

An intimate gathering to recognize and celebrate philanthropy.

When the University of Connecticut Foundation determined that its annual hospital gala needed a fresh approach, it called upon Educe to help rethink the event. After thorough evaluation, we launched a bold plan. The gala was retired, and in its place an intimate evening was designed to celebrate philanthropy at its highest levels throughout the UConn Health Sciences enterprise.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you. We so changed the game on Saturday night and couldn’t have accomplished it without you. Can’t wait to see where the future takes us!”

Mo Cotton Kelly, VP, Alumni Relations and Communications, University of Connecticut Foundation

Educe partnered with the University of Connecticut Foundation to take a close look at the goals and outcomes of The White Coat Gala – an annual fundraising event in existence for more than a decade. While the event was firmly entrenched in the local gala circuit, its declining success suggested that a new model was needed.

After meeting with donors, volunteer committee members, Foundation and UConn Health leadership, and major gift officers it became clear that a more current, less transactional way to showcase the university’s Health Sciences enterprise was in order.

A new, more intimate event was created, focusing on the impact of UConn across health-related fields, celebrating the private philanthropy that helps to make it possible, and inspiring future supporters. At its core was celebrating the newest recipients of the Neag Medal of Honor, which recognizes individuals whose transformational philanthropy has had the greatest impact within health sciences.

Another break from the past was the creation of a brief program followed by a dinner reception, in lieu of a seated dinner. The program opened with a cameo performance by a grateful patient and Broadway star, whose personal story was the perfect introduction to the evening. Along with the installation of the newest Neag Medal awardees, past recipients took the stage to form a “philanthropic tableau” that illustrated the private support that is needed to actualize such success.

During dinner, guests were able to interact with UConn alumni and faculty and touch and feel the innovations that are leading the charge in advancing healthcare. Freed from the confines of a single dinner table, UConn leadership was able to circulate, and Neag Medal recipients shared their stories among all in attendance. Students from the UConn Chamber Choir closed the evening, joining with the Broadway star for a final number. The evening’s success helped to set the stage for future gatherings among this new cohort of UConn Health Sciences supporters.