Our Mission

Improve the lives of others by mobilizing the caring power of our community.

Our Vision

Build a community in which everyone has the aspirations, resources and opportunities to reach their fullest potential.

We are your neighbors, co-workers and friends. We are a collaboration of donors, volunteers, organizations and experts—UNITED around the shared sense of purpose to reduce poverty in our community. Founded in 1923, United Way of Central Ohio is one of the largest United Ways in the country. We bring together more than 40,000 donors, advocates and volunteers, because when we speak and act together, we have the power to do more and our impact multiplies.


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United Way has enjoyed the support of
central Ohio for many years with a proud
tradition of advancing the common good.

In 1887, church leaders in Denver recognized the need for a combined effort to solve the city’s social welfare problems and organized to raise funds to support 22 health and welfare groups.

In Columbus, the first steps were taken toward creating a more unified system of charities called  “The Society of Organized Charities” and was designed to prevent overlapping and duplication. It became the city’s first united community planning group and information agency. The Society operated until 1899 when it was reorganized into the Associated Charities of Columbus.

In 1913, the first Community Chest was formed in Cleveland and was modeled after the Jewish Federation. Between 1919 and 1929 the number of community chests grew from 39 to 353 and by 1948 there were 1,000.

In 1923, a major step was taken. The Columbus Community Fund was formed to conduct a combined fund-raising campaign for 28 human services agencies. The fund was chaired by the Reverend E.F. Chauncey who was the rector of Trinity Episcopal Church and who called the campaign a “crusade.”  The campaign set a goal of $488,425 and successfully raised $600,769.

America’s entry into WWII changed everything. Columbus became the second city in the nation to organize a War Chest and included the coordination of various charity drives.

In 1943, Organized Labor supported the idea of workplace giving through payroll deduction. Members of AFL-CIOs were elected to boards and now national labor organizations encouraged workplace giving.

By 1948, more than 1,000 communities had established United Way organizations.

In Ohio, United Appeals of Franklin County in 1951 became United Appeal and in 1972 to conform to the national trend, we became United Way of Franklin County. Finally, in 2000, we adopted United Way of Central Ohio to locally reflect the communities we serve.

Until January 2021, we were one of only three United Ways in major markets across the country fundraising in a single county. That changed when United Way of Central Ohio and United Way of Union County formally affiliated to create greater efficiencies, reduce expenses and increase impact for both organizations. United Way of Union County maintained its name and the local nature of philanthropy, funding and service delivery, as well as its staff and offices.

United Way of Central Ohio expanded its impact further when United Way of Pickaway County dissolved on March 31, 2022, and Pickaway County ZIP codes were added to our footprint. We have long provided program funding to agencies that serve families and students throughout central Ohio, beyond Franklin County, and we look forward to connecting more directly to work with Pickaway County residents in the future.

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