United Way National History

United Way began in Denver in 1887 when religious community leaders and volunteer citizens came together to respond to the complex human needs brought on by the huge population increase. They learned that what made United Way unique, was their ability to bring together individuals and institutions to respond to human need and potential that could only be addressed together.

The modern United Way evolved from War Chests created as a community response in support of U.S. troops during World War I. Communities across the country saw the value of working together, that their collective action produced more value and results than working alone as individuals and institutions. War Chests were converted into Community Chests modeling the work in Denver and other communities across the nation.

Community Chests brought public officials, business leaders, religious leaders, organized labor, human service agencies and others together to identify and respond to the most pressing issues of the day. In early to mid-1920's human service agencies began raising money together through Community Chests to support these human needs agendas, and it worked. In the 1950's payroll deduction for workplace giving was created and the amount of money raised sky rocketed.

In 1970 local Community Chests, United Planning Councils, United Funds, Torch Drives, Crusades of Mercy, and others came together under one name and look, United Way. 


United Way is conspired of 1,400 locally independent organizations in the United States and 3,000 affiliated organizations in 44 countries around the world. There are 16 million donors in the U.S. investing almost $4 billion annually.

Get Involved

United Way of the Greater
Winona Area

902 East 2nd Street, Suite 330
Winona, MN  55987
Phone:  507.452.4624
Email:  unitedway@unitedwaywinona.org