Working Together for 100 Years The Origins of the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County

For 100 years, the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County has worked tirelessly to make our community the best place to live for Everyone.

This is our story.

World War I heightened the need for charity in Buffalo and Erie County, but it was difficult for donors to address all charities and social service agencies at once.

To unify these efforts, a group of individuals, led by Ansley Wilcox (pictured), came together to create a “one-ask” campaign to satisfy the monetary needs of three local charities.

They were The Charity Organization Society, the Children’s Aid and Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and the District Nursing Association.

They called it The Joint Charities Campaign. It lasted almost a week, from October 30th to November 5th. The initial goal for the one-week campaign was $120,000, no small task for 1917. In that short period of time, the committee raised over $150,000. Adjusted for inflation, that was $2,809,466.

Eventually setting up a permanent residence on Pearl Street, Joint Charities hired it’s first full-time employee, Alice Williams (pictured), who would later go on to lead fundraising efforts as our first official president.

In just a few short years, a one-week campaign to benefit three charities had blossomed into a full fledged organization, unlike any other.

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