The United Way movement has its origins in Denver, Colorado in 1887 when a priest, two ministers and a rabbi recognised the need for cooperative action to address their city's welfare problems.
They created an organisation to serve as an agent to collect funds for local charities, coordinate relief services, refer clients to cooperating agencies and make emergency assistance grants.
This "community chest" concept became known as United Way. Today, United Way is a not-for-profit, non-religious and non-political network of around 4000 affiliates operating in 46 countries and territories, including the US, Canada, UK, Japan, Korea, India, Hong Kong and Singapore. Each United Way branch operates autonomously, with advice and support provided by United Way internationally and nationally.
United Way commenced in Australia in 1953 in Geelong, and there are now branches in every State as well as the ACT.
In Western Australia, United Way began some 20 years ago. Concerned with the increasing need in the community and subsequent increasing charitable requests, a group of Perth businessmen established United Way West Australia Inc in 1986. It ran a 12-month pilot program then commenced full operations in July 1988.