United Way Worldwide

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United Way Worldwide
United Way Worldwide logo.svg
MottoLive United
Denver, Colorado, United States
TypePrivate non-profit
Legal statusActive
PurposeCharitable organization
Headquarters701 N. Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Region served
President and CEO
Brian A. Gallagher

United Way Worldwide is a privately-funded nonprofit, based in the United States. The United Way network is made up of nearly 1,800 autonomous 501c3 organizations, each governed and funded locally. The network spans more than 40 countries and territories and 6 continents. It serves 61 million people across the globe, fueled by 2.9 million volunteers and 8.3 million donors.


The United Way concept was founded in Denver, Colorado in 1887 when Denver-based Frances Wisebart Jacobs, the Rev. Myron W. Reed, Msgr. William J. O’Ryan, Dean H. Martyn Hart, and Rabbi William S. Friedman put together an idea that became the nation's first united campaign, benefiting 10 area health and welfare agencies. They created an organization to collect the funds for local charities, to coordinate relief services, to counsel and refer clients to cooperating agencies, and to make emergency assistance grants for cases that could not be referred. That year, Denver raised $21,700 for this greater good, and created a movement that would become United Way. 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 require support provided by a central organization, United Way of America and United Way International were born.

In May 2009, United Way of America and United Way International were integrated as one global entity, United Way Worldwide.

Global expansion[edit]

In its first 100 years, the United Way network reached 20 countries. Since 1990, United Ways have been created in 25 additional countries.

United Ways worldwide are led by local volunteers and professional leadership. In communities around the world, the United Way model is to convene local leaders to identify needs and create strategies that allow individuals and families to experience economic and human success through striving for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. The historical business model up until 2008 was to provide, assist or promote:

  • Community needs assessments
  • Information and referral to human service agencies
  • Fostering information exchange and collaboration among service agencies
  • Community fundraising campaigns inviting all people to give, and not just the wealthy
  • Organizational activities and money managed according to a strategy, a budget, and strict financial controls
  • Community planning committees, bringing agencies, donors, city leaders and other groups to a single table to address problems together
  • Allocation of funds to carefully investigated agencies, based on the community councils’ strategies
  • Volunteering[2]

As of 2019, The United Way network is made up of nearly 1,800 autonomous 501(c)(3) organizations, each governed and funded locally. The network spans more than 40 countries and territories and 6 continents. It serves 61 million people across 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 global impact – including a snapshot of its work in financial stability, education and health.

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 corporations, 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.

United Way New Zealand[edit]

United Way New Zealand (UWNZ), officially known as United Way (NZ) Inc., was established in 1975 as the United Way of Greater Auckland. In 1998, the geographic scope of the organization was expanded, and the name was changed to reflect the new national focus.

United Way's 211 and disaster response[edit]

In 2000, United Way joined with the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems to successfully petition the Federal Communications Commission to designate 211 as a health and human services information hotline. Originally created by United Way of Atlanta, 2-1-1 is an easy-to- remember and universally recognizable telephone number. Like 911 and 411, it helped people reach out in times of crisis to find local support and services.

In the years that followed, 2-1-1 grew into a post-disaster resource, providing emergency assistance for victims of 9-11 and relief for communities devastated by hurricanes, floods, mudslides, tornadoes and man-made disasters in the U.S. On the other side of the globe, United Way coordinated efforts to help Indian Ocean communities in the wake of the 2004’s tsunami in South Asia.

In times of disaster and every day, 211 is a community’s go-to resource. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 211 specialists connect callers with the help they need, from emergency shelter and evacuation information to help with basic needs, like food. During times of disaster, 211 maintains up-to-date information on shelters and other essential resources.

In 2017-18, the United Way Network raised more than $86.53 million for long-term recovery efforts related to Hurricane Harvey, Hurricanes Irma/Maria and the 2017 earthquakes in Mexico.[3] Almost $55.21 million has been raised for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts Almost $30 million has been raised for Hurricane Irma/Maria recovery efforts Almost $1.4 million has been raised for Mexico Earthquake recovery efforts Almost $266,000 has been designated for where the money is most needed

United Way's local organization in Chile, along with other United Way organizations throughout Latin America have mobilized to respond to the earthquake that hit Chile on February 27, 2010. They provided support in areas with the most pressing long-term recovery needs.[citation needed]

United Way Worldwide established the United Way Worldwide Disaster Fund,[4] introduced a text-to-give program, and is coordinating the integration of efforts from United Ways around the world. United Way Worldwide has worked with the United States government – the White House, Congress, State Department, Department of Homeland Security, and to underscore the vital role of U.S. and international NGOs in Haiti's long-term recovery.[5]

Immediately following the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan, United Way began raising funds for the Central Community Chest of Japan, part of the United Way worldwide network. Almost 90 volunteer centers were set up throughout the country at the prefectural, municipal, district, and community levels. As of March 22, eight consultants and 23 volunteer coordinators had been dispatched to Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, and Aomori Prefecture, with another 68 coordinators preparing for dispatch. The Central Community Chest of Japan has helped provide supplies to volunteer centers including bicycles, mattresses, cell phones, and laptops. Additional supplies requested by the volunteer centers include motorbikes, prefab houses and tents, copy and fax machines, PCs and printers.

The Central Community Chest of Japan is collaborating with 43 affiliated non-profit organizations through the Council for Disaster Relief Project for Volunteers. This number is expected to grow rapidly as transportation conditions continue to improve.[6]

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 Disaster Recovery | United Way Worldwide". www.unitedway.org. Retrieved 2020-03-11.
  4. ^ "Live United | Contribute". Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  5. ^ "United Way Worldwide - Homepage". Retrieved August 21, 2010.
  6. ^ "Home Page". Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved April 28, 2011.

External links[edit]