I love working on every issue of Special Events, but in many ways, this one is my favorite. From our annual cover story on fundraisers to the 10th edition of our “50 Top Event Companies” list, this issue shows the astonishing breadth of the world of special events.

In our cover story, we profile the event teams behind four galas who haven't let the sluggish economy slow down their fundraising efforts. With careful strategies and some clever tweaks, they have kept donations flowing in for the causes they are committed to. Turn to page 24 for some event inspiration.

Our “50 Top” list brings more good news.

After a tough 2010, when the revenue of the group as a whole fell 1 percent, the big event planning companies forecast a stronger year in 2011, predicting a 9 percent revenue boost. This is a marked improvement from the results in 2009, when companies listed predicted a revenue dip of 10 percent.

Of course, the changing business landscape has forced these companies to change what they do and how they do it.

One company on the “50 Top” list now does fewer customer-facing events for a major client. Instead, the company is working more with its client's personnel to get them “on board with [the client's] brands and strategies,” according to the company's CEO, who asks to remain anonymous to protect client confidentiality.

“This effort is to get all their personnel all over the world, including at the retail level, to embrace a more ‘Apple’ style of dealing with customers,” the CEO notes. The days of splashy customer-facing road shows “seem to be gone due to tighter budgets and a maturing of the industry now to responsibly focus on ROI.” He adds, “It has been good for our business — but not as much fun!”

Several companies have re-branded themselves since last year. Go West Event Productions of Westlake Village, Calif., for example, is now Go West Creative. President and CEO David Fischette explains, “Building on our design expertise in multimedia and event production and our technical execution acumen, we have taken the opportunity in 2011 to broaden our offerings as a full-service creative agency.”

Indeed, “creativity” is the soul of our business. And it will be the key to meeting whatever challenges lie ahead.