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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

UNITED WAY SERVICES - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

UNITED WAY SERVICES of Greater Cleveland, a centralized campaign established with that name in 1977 to raise money for health and human services, evolved from the city's first coordinated fund drives sponsored by the Federation for Charity and Philanthropy (later called the Welfare Federation, see FEDERATION FOR COMMUNITY PLANNING). In these efforts, local business and civic leaders developed procedures modeled by campaigns across the country. Cleveland's United Way considers its founding date to be the federation's, 7 June 1913. Its direct roots lie in the Community Fund drives of the Community Chest, created by the Welfare Federation in 1919. The Community Fund's first campaign, chaired by SAMUEL MATHER†, raised $4 million from 148,234 donors. The federation disbursed the monies to participating health and social service agencies, which in turn agreed to refrain from any other solicitation. Using an inspiring slogan and thousands of volunteers, the Community Fund surpassed $5.65 million in 1931, with 471,319 donors. By 1938 100 Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and non-sectarian agencies supported the fund. The campaign fared poorly during the Depression but rallied during World War II, when it was known as the War Chest. During the 1950s the Community Chest's Red Feather symbolized charitable giving. In 1957, with the addition of the AMERICAN RED CROSS, CLEVELAND CHAPTER, the name changed to the United Appeal and a red cross was added to the symbol.

Failure of the 1970 United Appeal campaign to match the previous year's total led to the establishment of the Commission on Health & Social Services in Sept. 1970. It recommended that the annual drive be reorganized. After much negotiation, 3 groups not previously represented joined the new United Torch Services campaign (known for a short time as Greater Cleveland United): the HEALTH FUND OF GREATER CLEVELAND (1972), the American Cancer Society (1973), and the AMERICAN HEART ASSN., NORTHEAST OHIO AFFILIATE, INC. (1974). In 1977 United Torch became United Way Services, identifying with its national organization. United Way distributed more than $40 million to 170 local agencies in Cleveland in 1984 but failed to meet several annual goals in the mid-1980s. Although the organization exceeded a $50 million goal for its 75th anniversary (1988), campaigns again fell short in the early 1990s, due in part to a scandal involving United Way of America's national director. However, the organization again began to succeed in its annual campaign of fundraising activities, collecting $44.5 million in 1993 and $41.2 million in 1994. K. Michael Benz served as United Way's president and CEO in 1995.

Last Modified: 23 Jul 1997 09:49:47 AM

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