United Way Worldwide

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from United Way International)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
United Way Worldwide
United Way Worldwide logo.svg

United Way Worldwide is the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit, topping the list of “America's Favorite Charities” as determined by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The Chronicle’s Oct. 2018 report ranks the 100 charities that Americans are most willing to support. The United Way network is made up of nearly 1,800 autonomous 501c3 organizations, governed and funded locally. The network spans more than 40 countries and territories. In each community, United Way brings people and organizations together to tackle challenges, with a focus on improving education, financial stability and health. In 2018, United Way served 61 million people around the globe, fueled by 2.9 million volunteers and 8.3 million donors. United Way’s Global Results Framework offers a data-driven snapshot of its community impact – including a snapshot of results in financial stability, education and health.


United Way was founded in Denver, Colorado in 1887. It collected funds for local charities, referred clients to human service agencies, and established emergency assistance grants for cases that could not be referred. The focus on community problem-solving is unchanged today, but how United Way does that has evolved quite a bit.

  • Early on, United Way mostly funded programs. While the idea of "sowing 1,000 seeds" supported good activities, it diluted impact -- and rarely changed lives.
  • By the 1980's, United Way was measuring outcomes. The goal was measurable impact. To ensure dollars made a difference, United Way encouraged agencies getting funding to focus on outcomes, not just activities.
  • Over the next two decades, Unite Way began targeting education, financial stability and health to make a more focused impact. Many local United Ways organized programs accordingly, and began to look hard at those issues locally.
  • By the mid-2000's, analysis of underlying causes made clear that community challenges were too big to tackle alone. United Way began collaborating with more partners, across a broader cross-section of the community.
  • Today, most United Ways are focused on some combination of the above. Almost all fund programs driving to community outcomes; many are fueling community initiatives; and some are working to galvanize the community around a common cause, a common vision and a common path forward.

FSG, a social impact consultancy that helps corporations, foundations and NGOs, pointed readers to a white paper a few years ago that lays out community strategies experts say work best to improve education, financial stability and health -- and how local United Ways can help people turn those strategies into action. The paper includes perspectives from more than 40 issue experts, including a foreword from FSG’s Mark Kramer, who wrote: “These problems are too big for any single organization to solve; too big even for the nonprofit sector to solve without engaging private enterprise and government as partners. There is no single 'silver bullet' that will solve problems of this severity. Instead, a strong cross-sector infrastructure is needed to support collaboration, guide evidence-based decision-making, track community-level outcomes, scan existing resources and identify priority strategies.”

Today, United Way Worldwide continues to evolve. In Sept. 2018, the Harvard Business Review published an article detailing how the CEO is shifting the business model for the future.

Global expansion[edit]

In the mid-1900s, local United Ways founded a national organization, later called United Way of America. In 1928, a Community Chest organization was established in Cape Town, South Africa — the first United Way outside North America.[1] By 1974, there were enough United Way organizations internationally to warrant more support, and United Way International was born. Its staff spoke eight languages, with a Board of Directors from more than seven countries, working with member organizations in 45 countries and territories outside the US. In May 2009, United Way of America and United Way International were integrated as one global entity, United Way Worldwide.

Across the world, United Ways are led by local volunteers and professional leadership. In communities around the world, the United Way model is to convene local leaders to:[2]

  • Assess that community's most pressing needs
  • Develop solution strategies targeting that community's specific needs
  • Engage individuals as volunteers to be part of those solutions
  • Galvanize community advocacy efforts to push for policies, programs and funding supporting that community's solutions
  • Refer people who need help to human service agencies and programs for which they qualify
  • Foster collaboration among service agencies
  • Lead community fundraising campaigns that invite all people (not just the wealthy) to support community solutions
  • Bring agencies, donors, local government leaders and other groups together to tackle problems collectively
  • Manage organizational activities and money according to local volunteer leaders' strategy, a budget and strict financial controls

As of 2018, the United Way network spans 40+ countries and territories.[3]

United Way in France[edit]

United Way Tocqueville (UWT) was created in France in 2008 as a non-profit organization, and forms part of the largest private charitable organization in the world, United Way Worldwide. UWT's ambition is to gather together the economic, political and social leaders to initiate collective community efforts to solve social problems.

United Way France mobilizes corporates, volunteers and public institutions around education programs for junior-high school students. Their main actions include:

  • Mobilizing volunteers and raising funds to support non-profit organizations and projects
  • Bringing together all stakeholders of a community (non-profit organizations, corporations, individuals, donors, elected officials, etc.) around innovative social projects
  • Accompanying companies in the development of their social initiatives and the achievement of sustainability
  • Raising awareness among people and corporations about the values of mutual aid and local community involvement

United Way France and the Airbus Corporate Foundation launched in 2011 the Flying Challenge Program to support and inspire youth. Airbus employees and college students tutor middle school and high school students, in order to help them succeed at school and develop their awareness of the importance of their orientation choices and potential career.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aft, Richard; Aft, Mary Lu (2009). Global Vision & Local Action: The History of United Way International. Cincinnati, OH: Philanthropic Leadership. pp. 10–11. ISBN 978-0-9676-3822-5. OCLC 673402830.
  2. ^ Aft, Richard; Aft, Mary Lu (2009). Global Vision & Local Action: The History of United Way International. Cincinnati, OH: Philanthropic Leadership. ISBN 978-0-9676-3822-5. OCLC 673402830.
  3. ^ "United Way Worldwide". www.unitedway.org. Retrieved 2018-01-15.

External links[edit]