Our History

1887
First United Way community campaign is in Denver, Colorado.

1922
The Madison Community Union is incorporated with 14 local agencies.

1942-1947
The Madison War Chest is formed.

1950
A single fund-raising group was formed known as United Givers Fund to serve as the coordinating organization for local Chest agencies, plus state and national agencies who were now members of the Union.

1953
The United Community Chest (Red Feather) is formed by a merger of the Madison Community Chest and United Givers Fund.

1969
The Community Welfare Council, previously affiliated with the Chest, becomes the Dane County Social Planning Agency.

1970
The Long-Range Planning Committee of the United Community Chest released a study and recommended adopting a new name: United Way of Dane County.

1971
United Way of Dane County becomes the new name for the former United Community Chest and United Givers Fund. A new Board of Directors consists of 30 people and a Citizens’ Senate of no more than 100.United Way of Dane County is affiliated with United Way of America.

1983
United Way of Dane County and United Madison Community foundation entered into an agreement creating endowment/deferred giving program.Direct Services: United Way of Dane County entered into a two-year pilot project with the Attic Angel Association to jointly sponsor the First Call For Help Service.

1986
Implementation of first community-wide needs assessment with City of Madison/County of Dane/United Way.

1987
American Heart Association: United Way secured negotiated agreement with American Heart Association.

1989

  • Hired new president.
  • United Way of Dane County receives United Way of America “Second Century Initiative” award for community-wide campaign.

1990
Community problem solving formalized through creation of board standing committee.

1991
Tocqueville Society membership (people who gave $10,000 or more to United Way) increases from six to fourteen members and raises $220,000.Campaign increases 8.3 percent over the previous year, during recessionary timeThe Youth Volunteer Initiative (YVI) is initiated.

1992
United Way of Dane County celebrates 70thanniversary.Established United Way of Dane County Foundation.

1993
United Way of Dane County Foundation has assets of $343,657 within its first six months of existence.Our first “Day of Caring” involves more than 125 volunteers, donating more than 500 hours to the community and working for 14 different agencies.23 students from 17 area high schools allocated $20,000 through the first By Youth For Youth fund distribution process.

1994
First distribution of funds from United Way of Dane County Foundation in the amount of $10,530. Foundation donors are involved in decisions.

1996
Largest individual gift ever is given to United Way of Dane County: $100,000.Board endorsed moving ahead on remodeling or replacing United Way of Dane County’s building.We joined as a partner in the Schools of Hopeeffort, taking a leadership role in the Minority Youth Achievement Task Force.Modified First Call For Help (FCFH) data base and licensing guidelines, allowing other nonprofits to access FCFH from their agency sites.

1997
United Way of Dane County celebrates 75thanniversary.United Way Board approves construction of a new facility in January 1997.

1998
Don and Marilyn Anderson become United Way of Dane County’s first members of the United Way of America Million Dollar Roundtable through their gift of $1 million for a new building.First Call for Help initiates a list serve service, DaneNeed, which is recognized as a “Best Practice” in addressing needs related to welfare reform.

1999
Ground is broken for construction of new $3.2 million Anderson United Way Building on the parking lot immediately east of the original building.Revised mission statement and new 5-year vision emphasize United Way’s role as a “community builder” that brings people and resources together to solve problems.

2000
United Way moves into new building on June 20. The old building is demolished the second week in July and replaced with new parking lot. On August 17, 800 people from the community attend our Open House, nearly 500 of them provide guidance to United Way for the future through several interactive forums.5-year report on Schools of Hope announced successful achievement on the initial project goals; United Way commits to five more years of collaborative work.

2001
United Ways respond locally and nationally to the “9/11” terrorist attacks on New York City. United Way of Dane County partnered with all local media on the United We Stand/Wisconsin Cares telethon conducted from our offices.Despite the events of September 11th and a soft economy, campaign raises $13,357,800.

2002
First Call for Help becomes “United Way 2-1-1” on June 11, as national 2-1-1 information and referral phone number is implemented.United Way of Dane County becomes first United Way in the country to develop a partnership with other Dane County volunteer clearinghouses including RSVP of Dane County, MATC and the UW-Madison Morgridge Center to share the “Volunteer Solutions” database available through United Way of America for matching volunteers with placements.

2003
United Way of Dane County Foundation celebrates its 10thanniversary.Updated Mission Statement is adopted: To unite and focus the community to create measurable results in improving people’s lives and strengthening our community.United Way develops our community’s “Agenda for Change” that states the community visions and goals that will be the focus of UWDC’s work in the coming years:

  • Students of Color achieve at the same rate as white students
  • Children are cared for and have fun as they become prepared for school.
  • people’s health issues are identified and treated early.
  • There is a decrease in homelessness and more affordable housing is available.
  • Seniors and people with disabilities are able to stay in their homes.
  • There is a reduction in violence toward individuals and families.
  • Strengthen non-profit agencies and volunteers as partners in achieving measurable results.

2004
Schools of Hope data shows the racial achievement gap at the 3rd grade reading level has been closed. Academic success can no longer be predicted on the basis of race or ethnicity.United Way secures resources to complete planning for and launch of Healthcare Access Pilot in concert with Health Council Partners.“Volunteers in Gear” Campaign is launched to recruit 1,000 community volunteers to provide assistance that helps older adults stay independent and in their own homes.

2005
Second major community initiative, Healthcare Access Pilot, is launched in collaboration with six Dane County health providers. Links 600 low-income uninsured patients with primary care providers and pharmaceuticals.United Way of Dane County is invited to speak with the United Way of America Board of Governors about the “Journey to Impact.”Two Certified Information and Referral Specialists from United Way of Dane County’s 2-1-1 Call Center respond to the request from the United Way of Northeast Louisiana to help staff its expanded Call Center in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. $75,000 is provided to assist with hurricane relief efforts through the local Red Cross and other organizations supporting evacuees recovering in Dane County ($50,000), and the United Way of America Hurricane Katrina Response Fund ($25,000).

2006
United Way convened the Latino Advisory Delegation, a diverse group of Latino community leaders who were asked to help us understand how the Agenda for Change could better serve the changing and growing population of Latinos. Work with this group represented UWDC’s centerpiece for community engagement in 2006, culminating with the publication of the report Cuéntame: Latino Life in Dane County. Work on the Agenda for Change includes:

  • Implementation of strategies though redirecting funding to increasing support for accessing permanent housing and avoiding shelter to the extent possible.
  • Support for the Journey Home program which provides a one stop resource shop (Service Fairs) for ex-offenders and their families around four key components: residency (housing), employment, support and treatment.
  • Development of Caregiver Mobilization Plan that focuses on resources and 5 strategies to support family and unpaid caregiving to help seniors and those with disabilities remain in their homes.

2007
Index of Impact indicators updated and refined. Scope and dimension of the issues addressed in the Agenda for Change defined.UWDC designated by United Way of America as a Center of Excellence; national award for transformation to community impact received at Staff Leader’s Conference.Born Learning Delegation convened and launches work on the Born Learning Mobilization Plan that includes an unprecedented county-wide 4-point strategy to bring together healthcare providers, caregivers and educational specialists to improve pre-school child readiness in our community. Goal is for 75% of the children entering kindergarten will have the necessary skills to be successful as measured by a community assessment tool (Ages & Stages) by 2013.

2008
Delegation on Disconnected and Violent Youth develops and launches work on Achievement Connections, a 4-point strategy to keep students from disengaging from family, school, and the community and increase the graduation rate in Dane County to 95% by 2012:

  • Community Leadership Teams convened in the spring to pilot Achievement Connections strategies in the Oregon and Middleton/Cross Plains School Districts.

The Schools of Hope initiative continues to grow:

  • 490 volunteers tutored 995 students in nine Madison middle schools.
  • High school tutoring initiative began with 20 employees from one company trained as tutors for LaFollette High School students.
  • 154 volunteers worked with 554 students in 2 elementary schools; reduction in the reading and math gap among students of color and low income students is seen.
  • 109 volunteers tutored 240 students in the Verona Area School District; majority of students tutored are maintaining or improving their reading skills.
  • Oregon School District adopts Schools of Hope tutoring in middle school as one of their Achievement Connections strategies and hires a tutor coordinator to implement.

United Way of Dane County was asked by Through United Way of America’s National Professional Council to provide leadership and technical assistance to help other United Ways develop a Mobilization Plan to address academic achievement issues in their own communities.

2009
Increased emphasis on Major Gifts as a strategy to raise additional resources to support work on the Agenda for Change. Collaboration between Resource Development and Community Impact departments results in successfully securing nearly $1.9 million in multi-year grants to implement programs that keep families and veterans from becoming homeless.

UWDC convenes an economic summit for non-profit organizations do discuss strategies for doing business in this year of unprecedented economic uncertainty.

Two new Mobilization Plans are developed: 1) United Way 2-1-1 and 2) Increasing Volunteer Engagement in the Agenda for Change. Implementation of these plans will begin in 2010.

Healthy for Life CST volunteers and United Way Board approve new language for the health agenda: People’s health issues are identified and treated early.

Specific strategies that were developed through Mobilization Plans to produce results in the Agenda for Change prove to be very appealing investment opportunities for donors. UWDC attracts $1.4 million in both investments and grants in our housing, education, early childhood, and volunteerism strategies.

The challenging economic climate is seen in campaign results that do not reach goal for the first time in years. Reserve funds are used to supplement campaign results and nearly $17 million is invested to solve the most pressing local issues.

2010
New long-range goals developed for 2011-2015 address the deepening of our commitment to the Agenda for Change and organizational excellence, and achieving a major transformation in resource development practices comparable in scope and impact to our earlier change from a fundraising to a community impact business model.

Our new Brand Archetype of achievement – working with the community to set and achieve seemingly impossible things – is visible in our 2010 Campaign theme, materials, and events.

The 2010 campaign rebounds with $16,400,000 raised.

Received new and re-compete grants totaling $1.4 million. The largest grants received were from the Henry J. Predolin Foundation for Housing First and food programs, an AmeriCorps grant to mobilize volunteers advancing our Agenda for Change initiatives, and a Department of Justice grant to provide Housing First to survivors of domestic violence.

Mobilization plan on Safe and Healthy Aging that focuses on reducing falls and adverse drug events among seniors is developed.

Delegation to Improve Behavioral Health is formed and charged with identifying opportunities for systemic improvement in how behavioral and mental health issues are addressed in Dane County.

UWDC incorporates social media as a communications and engagement tool, with a Facebook page with 430 connections, a Twitter page with 947 followers, and a LinkedIn page with 178 connections.

Anderson United Way Center celebrates 10 years of building community in a welcoming and accessible space.

2011
Public launch of the Delegation to Improve Behavioral Health report and recommendations. United Way board approves Behavioral Health Mobilization Plan.

Building on work started in 2010, the Delegation on Safe and Healthy Aging looks to reduce the rate and number of adverse drug events and falls of older adults in Dane County by 15% by 2015.

United Way Key Club celebrates 30 years of leadership giving and donors’ impact on our community.

2012
Madison Metropolitan School Board and United Way of Dane County Board held a first-ever joint meeting to review our longstanding partnership and the community’s progress on closing the racial achievement gap.

Evaluation of Schools of Hope by an outside evaluator validated that our work makes a difference. Students tutored 1:1, 1:2 or 1:3 for at least 15 sessions showed more improvement in reading scores than similar students who did not receive the tutoring.

In order to deepen relationships with our top donors, resources (staffing and time spent) are distorted to focus on these priorities:

  1. Workplace focus for greatest potential
  2. Major gifts and grants
  3. Tocqueville Society and Key Club
  4. Direct mail, including non-traditional workplaces/workers and retirees

United Way brings community partners together for a Child Protection Summit to share best practices in preventing child sexual abuse.

United Way 2-1-1 is nationally accredited by the Alliance of Information & Referral Systems (AIRS) and recognized for three best practices that are shared with other information & referral providers throughout the US and Canada.

$1.88 million in government and foundation funding is awarded to support the strategic initiatives of the Agenda for Change.