A Brief History

United Way of Aiken County, Inc.

The United Way concept began more than a century ago in Denver, where people pulled together in a volunteer effort to meet the needs of their community.  From this, the United Way system evolved into a comprehensive way of providing services in communities across the country.

The Aiken County Community Chest was organized in 1952 to make a united fund drive on behalf of non-profit agencies. Senator Strom Thurmond, at that time a local attorney and a member of the organizing committee, was elected the first President of the Board of Directors. The hard working volunteers led by Campaign Chair Arthur L. Tackman raised $51,010 in that first campaign for eight member agencies.

During the late 50’s the name was changed to Aiken County United Fund and more agencies applied and were accepted for funding. In the 70’s, the organization was incorporated and the name was changed once more to United Way of Aiken County, Inc.  Today there are 32 member agencies and several others that receive funding for approved special programs to meet needs in the community.

With an exceptional record of successful fundraising, United Way volunteers raised $2,416,913 in 2021 for the health and human service needs of the people of Aiken County. Over the past 70 years, thousands of volunteers have raised a total of $99,705,948!

In addition to raising and allocating funds, the United Way continues to strengthen its role as Aiken County’s community problem solver. Through a comprehensive Community Impact Initiative, we have positioned our United Way to be the collaborative hub for Aiken County. In addition, we continue to seek and optimize revenue and increase organizational effectiveness—maintaining our reputation as an efficient and effective organization geared toward providing crosscutting solutions to address community needs.

Although the United Way has grown and expanded its services throughout the last 70 years, the mission remains to meet the human service needs of the people of Aiken County.  It’s OUR community, and YOUR United Way!


United Way

In 1887, a Denver priest, two ministers and a rabbi recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare problems. The Rev. Myron W. Reed, Msgr. William J.O’Ryan, Dean H. Martyn Hart and Rabbi William S. Friedman put their heads together to plan the first united campaign for ten health and welfare agencies. They created an organization to serve as an agent to collect funds for local charities, as well as to coordinate relief services, counsel and refer clients to cooperating agencies, and make emergency assistance grants in cases which could not be referred.  That year, Denver raised $21,700 and created a movement that would spread throughout the country to become the United Way. Over 118 years later, United Way is still focused on mobilizing the caring power of communities and making a difference in people’s lives.