United Way's focus is to identify and resolve pressing community issues and to make measurable changes in communities through partnerships with schools, government agencies, businesses, organized labor, financial institutions, community development corporations, voluntary and neighborhood associations, the faith community, and others. The main areas include education, income, and health.
United Way of America has been the largest non-profit organization by donations from the public.
The organization has roots in Denver, Colorado, where in 1887 Frances Wisebart Jacobs, along with other religious leaders, began the Charity Organization Society, which coordinated services between Jewish and Christian charities and fundraising for 22 agencies.
Many Community Chest organizations, which were founded in the first half of the twentieth century to jointly collect and allocate money, joined the American Association for Community Organizations in 1918. The first Community Chest was founded in 1913 in Cleveland, Ohio, after the example of the Jewish Federation in Cleveland—which served as an exemplary model for "federated giving". The number of Community Chest organizations increased from 39 to 353 between 1919 and 1929 and surpassed 1,000 by 1948. In 1948, Walter C. Laidlaw merged the Community Chest and other Detroit charities to form the United Foundation. Walter Laidlaw's work with the United Foundation became the model for united funds nationally and eventually the United Way organization.
According to wikipedia