The United Way was founded in Denver, Colorado, in 1887. Church leaders began the Charity Organization Society which coordinated services and fund raising for 22 agencies. The first fund raising efforts raised $21,700. Multiple Community Chest organizations joined the American Association for Community Organizations in 1918. The number of Community Chest organizations increased from 39 to 353 between 1919 and 1929, and surpassed 1,000 by 1948. By 1963, and after several name changes, the term United Way was adopted.
The Auburn and Cayuga Community Chest originated in 1922 to solicit and disburse monies for charitable and community purposes. It was succeeded by the United Fund of Cayuga County (1956), whose purpose was to continue the improvement and development of health, character, and well-being of the residents of this county. In 1979, the name was officially changed to United Way to promote identification with the National United Way movement. Today, there are over 1,800 United Way organizations reporting over $4.2 billion in contributions worldwide.