We develop resources and partnerships that make a measurable difference in people’s lives.
United Way of Manatee County is a catalyst for lasting change in our community and in people’s lives by focusing on Education, Income and Health as the foundations of a better life.
The United Way of Manatee County, Inc. began as the Community War Chest on September 2, 1943, by the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton. While in the midst of World War II, local leaders had become concerned about the disruption the war was having on our community’s family life. To address the needs of our community, the Community War Chest’s first fund drive raised $28,000.
By 1966 several name changes had occurred, when former State Senator Ed H. Price, Jr. recommended that the United Fund include a full-time professional staff and a Board of Directors, implement committees, and use proven methods of fundraising.
In Manatee County, the decade of the 1970’s reflected charitable giving as an established community activity. Each year, fundraising goals increased and neared the half-million dollar mark by 1979. The organization was renamed the United Way of Manatee County in 1980.
In 1983, Ed Price established the Pathfinders Club for individuals who contributed $500 or more to United Way annually. During its first year of existence, the Pathfinders Club had 51 members. It has since evolved into a Leadership Giving Program that continues to be a major factor in the success of United Way of Manatee County
Continued close ties between United Way and the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton resulted in the Kiwanis Club donating the property for the present day United Way facility in 1984. Anthony T. Rossi, founder of Tropicana and the Aurora Foundation, as well as the Selby Foundation, Eaton Corporation, and GTE supported a Building Fund effort for the construction of the United Way building. The new facility was dedicated on May 9, 1987 and continues to serve as the United Way of Manatee County main office.
The Annual United Way Campaign continued to grow. After surpassing the $1 million mark in 1984, it exceeded $1.5 million by 1988. An expansion of Special Event Fundraising and an increased emphasis on employee workplace campaigns enabled United Way to achieve substantial increases in its recent Fundraising Campaigns. By 2002, annual contributions exceeded $2.5 million dollars.
The year 2003 was great in that the United Way of Manatee County implemented four Community Impact Areas (Strengthening Children and Families, Assisting People in Crisis, Empowering People to Independence and Enriching the Lives of Seniors).
The United Way of Manatee County continued to grow its community impact in 2004 with the development of the Women’s Leadership Initiative. This is a unique opportunity for all women in the community to invest their time, talents, and treasures to better their community, through education, advocacy, leadership and mentorship.
By 2007, donations had reached an all time high of $2.85 Million. Shortly thereafter, the economic climate of the community changed, therefore affecting the Annual Campaign. United Way remained focused on the local community and responded to the downturn by conducting a thorough review of the issues facing our community. The focus was on United Way’s role and ability to effectively address those issues and through this, United Way reorganized its funding to create the following focus areas:
Education, Income, and Health.
The United Way of Manatee County has come a long way in their history in providing the community with the services and programs which allow the citizens of Manatee County the opportunity to better their lives. We look forward to what the future may hold for the United Way of Manatee County and the people’s lives we touch.