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community chest

community chest, cooperative organization of citizens and social welfare agencies in a city. Also known as a united fund, it has two purposes: to raise funds through an annual campaign for its member agencies and to budget the funds raised. The fund is administered by the community chest or united fund itself, or as a joint endeavor with a community welfare council; to represent the idea of administering, as well as collecting, the funds, the national association in 1927 took the name Community Chests and Councils. Today the organization's official name is the United Way of America. In 1974, it formed United Way International to provide assistance to the international United Way community and similar fundraising organizations outside the United States. The idea of cooperative collecting for charitable purposes originated in Liverpool, England (1873), and, in the United States, in Denver (1887). In 1900 the Cleveland chamber of commerce went a step further and assumed responsibility for endorsing the agencies seeking funds; 13 years later Cleveland brought almost all its welfare organizations together in the Cleveland Welfare Council. The name community chest was coined in Rochester, N.Y., in 1913.

See J. R. Sealey et al., Community Chest: A Case Study in Philanthropy (1957).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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