|Canada’s Board of Directors|
The United Way Movement is a federated network of local United Way offices serving more than 5,000 communities across Canada, each registered as its own non-profit organization and governed by an independent volunteer-led local Board of Directors. Each United Way works locally to raise funds and invest in improving lives in its community.
In French, both in Quebec and across Canada, the organization is known as Centraide. The organization often uses the United Way and Centraide names together, recognizing the bilingual nature of the country's culture and people.
United Way Centraide Canada is the national office and has a distinct role to provide leadership, guidance and support to local United Ways across the country. Together, local United Ways and United Way Centraide Canada form the United Way Movement.
United Way Centraide's work focuses on three key strategies that create opportunities for everyone in our communities: moving people from poverty to possibility, helping kids be all they can be, and building strong and healthy communities.
The Mission of United Way of Canada is: "To improve lives and build community by engaging individuals and mobilizing collective action." Adopted in 2003, this mission represents a shift in the organization's focus of umbrella fundraising to community impact. United Way Centraide Canada regards community impact as the achievement of positive long-term changes to the quality of life in local communities which is brought about by addressing the root causes of social problems, as well as their symptoms.
The National Office, which was founded in 1939, is located in Ottawa, Ontario. As the national organization, United Way Centraide Canada represents local United Ways and Centraides within Canada's voluntary sector, internationally and provides services such as leadership training and education opportunities. The national organization convenes local United Ways and Centraides on a biennial basis at its annual conference, for the purposes of professional development training, the sharing of best practices and learning from leading thinkers.
The United Way Centraide movement began in 1917, when charities in Montreal and Toronto started community collectives inspired by similar activities in the United States. In particular, various clergy in Denver were trying to raise money individually to support their community, but started working together in 1887 when they realized that they could have a greater impact if they worked together to raise and distribute funds. This approach began to be adopted in Canada during the turmoil of the First World War period.
Other collectives were initiated in other parts of the country over time, under a variety of names (including Red Feather (or Plume Rouge in French), Community Chest, Fédération des oeuvres de charité and the United Appeal). It was not until the 1970s that these organizations took the name of United Way and Centraide (in 1973 and 1975 respectively).
How United Ways in Canada allocate their funds has been discussed in an academic journal.