The following history of the United Way in the Minneapolis was compiled from information provided by the United Way:
The concept of United Way has evolved over a century. United Way of Minneapolis Area is one of more than 2,000 local United Way organizations in the country and one of 50 in the State of Minnesota. Each one is an independent and autonomous organization founded and governed by local volunteers. Those volunteers determine the name, principles, policies, activities and methods of operation for each United Way. All are joined, however in a common cause to enable the private sector to effectively and efficiently help people in need and improve their communities’ quality of life.
THE COUNCIL OF SOCIAL AGENCIES was formed at the suggestion of the forerunner to the Chamber of Commerce to: 1) increase leadership and participation of the business and public sectors in voluntary socials agencies; and 2) to protect the community from non-legitimate fund-raising schemes.
THE WAR CHEST was organized to be the clearinghouse in World War I for collecting, budgeting and distributing funds to agencies which were providing recreation and service programs for servicemen stateside and overseas. After the war, the Minneapolis War Chest turned over $700,000 to the Council of Social Agencies for distribution to local social agencies for the following year.
THE TOWN TEA KETTLE was the name chosen for the post World War I fund- raising effort of the Minneapolis Council of Social Agencies.
THE COMMUNITY FUND was organized as the fund-raising division of the Minneapolis Council of Social Agencies. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the Community Fund responded to human need in the depression years. Dramatic strides were made in planning, research and budgeting techniques.
THE WAR FUND combined all national and local fund-raising activities for wartime and peacetime social, health and recreational welfare activities. The Minneapolis Council of Social Agencies’ Community Fund staff directed the new combined appeal.
THE COMMUNITY CHEST conducted its first fund drive with the Red Feather symbol. In 1949, the Community Chest and Council of Hennepin County was incorporated. The “Council” replaced the Council of Social Agencies.
THE UNITED FUND OF HENNEPIN COUNTY was established in response to a proliferation of fund-raising efforts. The United Fund conducted an annual federated campaign and distributed funds to national agencies, the Community Health and Welfare Council and the Community Chest. The Community Health and Welfare Council was incorporated in 1960 to devote its efforts to community planning and research including consultation to the United Fund. The Community Chest was incorporated as the budget and distribution arm for 58 local agencies in 1960.
THE UNITED FUND OF MINNEAPOLIS AREA was established to reflect both a change in function and broadened economic base.
The name UNITED WAY OF MINNEAPOLIS AREA was adopted by the Board of Directors on March15, 1973, to dramatize the collaborative function of meeting human need through the joint voluntary efforts of contributors, providers and services and consumers.
1988 Success By 6® was established at the Minneapolis Area United Way in 1988 as a guideline for early childhood development. Adopted as a national model, the initiative has spread to more than 350 cities in the United States and Canada, ensuring healthy development of children from conception to age six.
United Way Caring Connection a group volunteer program began in 1992 as a week of caring, matching volunteer groups from local companies with projects at our partner agencies. Currently, our United Way is one of a few United Ways to have a year-round Caring Connection. To date over 100,000 Caring Connection volunteers have donated over $1 million in time and resources to the community.
Minneapolis Area United Way and St. Paul Area United Way merged creating Greater Twin Cities United Way. The merger allowed for more effective and efficient use of resources to serve the needs of our community.
First Call for Help was established in 1948 as a hotline to assist people in need. In 2002, First Call for Help transformed into United Way 2-1-1, a free, confidential, statewide information and referral service connecting people to over 40,000 community services.
The contributions and efforts of the Council of Social Agencies, Minneapolis War Chest and Saint Paul Community Chest are recognized as the foundation of what is now Greater Twin Cities United Way. While our community has changed dramatically since 1915, and our name has undergone a few modifications, what has remained constant is the idea behind United Way. This notion of united giving has demonstrated flexibility and durability, as it continues to serve the needs of our ever-changing community. Through the foresight, compassion, action and sacrifice displayed by the tens of thousands of volunteers of our community and by staff past and present, year after year United Way continues to fulfill its mission of improving lives and strengthening communities.
For information on the history of giving in St. Louis Park, see the chapter on the Community Fund.