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Who We Are
History of United Way of Missoula County
United Way of Missoula County has been serving our community under a variety of different names since March of 1931, when the Federated Social Services of Missoula County was formed. At the helm, charting its original course, was Bill Gallagher, well respected local philanthropist. The goal, soon achieved, was to raise $28,000.
Federated Social Services adopted the name Community Chest in the late 1930s. During the 1940s and 1950s, amounts raised grew to more than $60,000 annually. Eighty-five percent of the money raised went to four Missoula agencies: Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, YWCA and the Salvation Army.
In 1963, the name Community Chest was changed to United Givers. The old concept of agencies managing the organizations to raise funds for them was replaced by a new purpose: that of givers joining together to determine which agencies receive funding. Throughout the 1960s, over $100,000 was raised each year and new agencies supported, included Montana Association for the Blind, Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services.
In the 1970s, our organization raised about $200,000 and supported more new agencies, including the Crisis Center, Multiple Sclerosis Association, Seeley-Ovando-Swan Health Center, Law Enforcement Youth Camp and Day Care Scholarship Fund. The most significant change to United Givers was an affiliation with a growing national movement, and a name change to United Way of Missoula County. We joined an association of more than 1,400 other United Ways across the United States. United Way was defined as, “a community project, locally organized and supported, with two primary purposes: 1) raising money each year in a single campaign and 2) seeing that this money was wisely allocated and carefully used.”
Today, United Way Worldwide is the nation’s largest charity, with 1,800 affiliates in 45 countries, raising more than $4 billion annually. Its mission – to improve lives by harnessing the caring power of communities – sets a leadership example for our local United Way to follow.
During the 1980s, local campaign goals exceeded the $400,000 mark. Under the direction of experienced campaigners, a team fund-raising structure was put into place. The teams included Commerce and Industry, Government, Education, Retirees, Medical, and Sales divisions. Big Brothers & Sisters of Missoula, Missoula Developmentally Disabled, Community Homes Council and Missoula Senior Citizens Centers were newly funded agencies during this decade.
In 2007, her first year as CEO of United Way of Missoula County, Susan Hay Patrick led United Way of Missoula County’s transition to a “community impact model.” This calls upon United Way to build and sustain strong, lasting relationships with diverse partners and supporters, in order to change community conditions. Development efforts are focused not solely on time-limited workplace campaigns bolstered by payroll deductions, but on engaging meaningfully with donors and building relationships with diverse stakeholders year round. In 2007, our collective efforts raised $1.45 million, $77,000 more than our goal.
In 2008, United Way Worldwide announced a 10-year Challenge to America in the areas of Education, Income and Health, setting ambitious, measurable goals for our country to achieve in each of these areas by the year 2018. United Way of Missoula County endorses these overarching goals. We also implemented LIVE UNITED, United Way Worldwide’s campaign to encourage all Americans to give, advocate and volunteer. LIVE UNITED is much more than an awareness and branding campaign; it is a call to action. Through giving, advocating, and volunteering – living United – we can all play a role in building a better community for everyone.
In 2011 – our 80th year – United Way of Missoula County raised more than $1 million. Today, United Way of Missoula County supports 34 funded programs at 21 partner agencies, providing critical services and support to the most vulnerable people in our community. In addition, we are regarded as one of the most effective human-services organizations in Missoula County. Over the last year, our collective impact in the community was $750,000 in terms of direct grants and leadership involvement in substantive efforts to build a better community for all. In partnership with donors, funded programs and diverse partners throughout our community, we continue aspire to excellence as we work toward our goals of community excellence, measurable impact, and improved lives.