A History of United Way

The first Greeley Community Chest was started in 1940 but was silent during the final years and after World War II. The Greeley One Fund was reorganized in 1957 and Weld County United Fund in 1960. In 1970, the United Fund changed its name to the present name of the United Way of Weld County, Inc.


1887 - First United Community Campaign organized in Denver and raised a total of $21,700 for 22 agencies.


1913 - The nation’s first “Community Chest” was started, where a program for allocating campaign funds was developed.


1918 - American Association for Community Organization was put together. This was the forerunner of the United Way of America.


1919 - Rochester, New York also coins the name "Community Chest"; several other communities follow and adopt the name and concept.


1929-1935 - The depression years. The Community Chest mobilizes to fight hunger and need. Over 320 cities have “Community Chests.”


1939-1945 - World War II. United Relief, Inc. is organized to coordinate foreign relief appeals (later as the National War Fund).


1943 - The war sparks a great surge in fund-raising. Nearly $167 million in 1942, an increase of 53% over the previous year.


1944 - A peak of $226 million is raised by 773 communities during the last full year of the war.


1947 - Number of communities with United Campaigns tops the 1,000 mark.


1959 - 2,148 cities have "United Funds". Funds raised almost $465 million.


1969 - $817 million is raised by 18 million volunteers for about 36,000 local, state, and national organizations. Over 31 million families benefit.


1970 - Reorganization of United Way of America and the name United Way formally adopted.


1972 - The United Way logo, representing the helping hand cradling mankind and surrounded by a rainbow symbolizing hope, was created by Saul Bass, a prominent graphic designer.


1974 - United Ways raised $1,038,995,000 in America and Canada – the first time in history that an annual campaign of a single organization raised more than $1 billion.


1981 - United Way raised $1.68 billion, a 10.1 percent increase over 1980. Despite high unemployment and economic uncertainty, it was the largest single year percentage increase in 25 years.


1983 - Congress made the first-of-its-kind $50 million emergency food and shelter grant to the voluntary sector. United Way of America serves as the fiscal agent and secretariat for the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program (EFSP). Local United Ways implement programs.


2003 - New Membership Standards for member United Ways that are designed to enhance the level of accountability and transparency in United Way operations are overwhelmingly adopted.


2005 - First adopted in 1973 and last updated in 1988, United Way of America updates its Standards of Excellence, The new Standards - - which provide a comprehensive description of benchmark standards and best practices – reflect the organization’s strategic shift from its traditional role as strictly a fundraiser to a new mission focused on identifying and addressing the long-term needs of communities.


2009 - United Way of America merged with United Way International to become United Way Worldwide.