Under the gaze of a few irritated fish, Charleston Waterkeeper gathered a crowd of water lovers for their inaugural Water Ball at the South Carolina Aquarium Thursday night. The venue could not have been more fitting, as guests came face to face with the animals their ticket fees and donations will be helping to protect.

Attendees were greeted with a demonstration to help visualize the impact their contributions will make on local waterways. Volunteers handed guests glasses of water with a submerged marble to represent their $50 contribution. A large barrel with the Waterkeepers’ seal, dubbed the Water Machine, filtered the marble from the clean water and deposited the water in a tank that showed the level of funds received. Following an impressive $2,500 donation, two large containers were poured into the filtration system. Member Keith Sauls, executive vice president of Twitpay, helped garner even more donations for the nonprofit by encouraging tweeters to make payments through the social network.

Overall, the night represented a new take on the standard nonprofit fundraiser. Dress was formal but encouraged creativity. (We loved Waterkeeper Cyrus Buffum’s black sneakers paired with ’80s inspired suit and Lindsey Carters’ original cocktail dress.) And with DJs spinning everything from classic jazz to new digital sounds, the event was anything but stuffy.