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History

1887:

In Denver, religious leaders founded the Charity Organizations Society, the first "United Way" organization, which planned and coordinated local services and conducted a single fund-raising campaign for 22 agencies.

1888:

First United Way campaign in Denver raised $21,700.

1894:

Charitable institutions became exempt from the first federal act that imposed a tax on all corporations organized for profit.

1913:

The nation's first modern Community Chest was born in Cleveland, where a program for allocating campaign funds was developed.

1919:

Rochester, New York used the name Community Chest, a name widely adopted by United Way organizations and used until the early 1950s. This year began a 10-year growth period in the number of Community Chests: 39 in 1919; 353 in 1929.

1948:

More than 1,000 communities had established United Way organizations.

1973:

The NFL and the United Way establish their partnership to increase public awareness of social service issues facing the country. In addition to public service announcements in which volunteer NFL players, coaches and owners appear, NFL players support their local United ways through personal appearances, special programs, and sitting on United Way governing boards.

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. United Ways undertook with the National Football League (NFL) the largest public-service campaign in the nation's history; a major part of that campaign was Great Moments, the televised United Way/NFL public-service announcements.

1981:

United Ways raised $1.68 billion, a 10.1 percent increase over the previous year. This figure represented the largest single-year percentage increase.

1993:

The corporate community is increasingly demanding easier, more cost-efficient ways to process workplace campaigns. The Board sees these resolutions as the first steps in ensuring that United Way continues to be the premier workplace fund-raiser because of its ability to change to better meet customers' needs through the use of new technology.

1994:

United Way of America was selected by Financial World magazine as the charity of choice in 1994 for its leadership in not-for-profit ethics and accountability.

1995:

United Way of America's Board of Governors unanimously approved the adoption of Strategic Direction for United Way: Charting the Path for Building Better Communities.

1996:

In October of 1996, United Way of America identified healthy children, healthy families and healthy communities as focus areas under the strategic plan.

1998:

In 1997-98 campaigns, United Ways collectively raised $3.4 billion, boosting revenues by more than $150 million for a 4.7 percent increase over 1996-97 levels.

United Ways and the NFL celebrate the 25th Anniversary of their unique partnership and the longest-running sports/charity public service announcement campaign of its kind. The partnership has enabled the United Way to share their special message with 110 million viewers during football season. Over 950 spots have aired since 1973.

2000:

United Ways embark on a national brand management strategy designed to differentiate United Way brand and system. The strategy helps to reposition United Way as more than a "fundraiser," but rather as the leading community impact organization.

2001:

In the 2000-2001 campaigns, United Way generated a record-breaking $3.91 billion in resources. For the fifth year in a row, campaign growth outpaces inflation.

2002:

In January, Brian Gallagher assumes the position of United Way of America president and CEO. A 20-year veteran of United Way, Gallagher was president of the United Way of Central Ohio in Columbus, the 16th largest United Wayin the country. Gallagher becomes UWA's fourth president, succeeding Betty Stanley Beene, whom concluded her service to United Way on January 31, 2001.

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.

2004:

In response to the devastating hurricanes that ravaged the state of Florida, United Ways throughout Florida led response and recovery efforts by identifying the most serious needs in devastated communities. The Florida 2-1-1 Network responded to thousands of telephone calls directing victims to services such as shelters, food, medical assistance, disaster preparedness and response activities, post-disaster assistance, and recovery information. Local 2-1-1 operators also matched volunteers with opportunities to give help in affected communities.

2005:

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

2006:

United Way of America and MTV created Storm Corps, an Alternative Spring Break program that invites young people to help United Way rebuild the Gulf Coast after the devastating hurricanes of 2005. Nearly 100 young adults traveled to Biloxi, MS, and Foley, AL, to assist with rebuilding and recovery efforts.

2007:

The United Way Financial Stability Partnership was introduced. The national initiative will empower low- to moderate-income people to achieve long-term financial stability that leads to independence. United Way annual revenue topped $4 billion for the first time, continuing its status as the nation’s largest charity.