Our Commitment to Community

Creating a more equitable future for everyone — yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Our History

United Way Centraide has a long history in Canada, dating back more than a century.

In the midst of the First World War, community service charities in Montreal started coordinating their efforts when they realized they could create greater impact by raising and distributing funds together.

They were inspired by similar work happening in the United States — the work of the United Way Centraide movement, which took shape in 1887 when community members and religious leaders decided to work together to collect funds for local charities, coordinate relief services, and make emergency grants where needed.

Soon, charities across Canada began engaging in these “community collectives.” Over the years, their efforts were known by a variety of names, including Red Feather, Community Chest, and United Appeal. In the 1970s, they came together to officially take on the name of United Way Centraide — sparking a national movement to improve lives and build strong communities.

Our Movement

United Way Centraide is a federated network serving more than 5,000 communities across Canada. Each local office is registered as its own non-profit organization and governed by an independent volunteer-led Board of Directors.

Both locally and nationally, our goal is the same: to create a more equitable future for all.

In French, both in Quebec and across Canada, our organization is known as Centraide. We use the United Way Centraide and Centraide names together, recognizing the bilingual nature of our country’s culture and people.

United Way Centraide Canada provides national leadership and membership support for the network of local United Way Centraides across Canada. With a national office located in Ottawa, United Way Centraide Canada advances the collective impact of our network, measures results in local communities, raises awareness about the social issues affecting Canadians, and advocates for improved funding and resources.

Together, local United Way Centraides and United Way Centraide Canada form the United Way Centraide movement.

Along with our partners and donors, we inspire volunteerism and collective action, embrace collaboration, provide non-partisan leadership, and champion diversity in everything we do.

Get Involved!

From advocating to donating to volunteering with your local United Way Centraide, there are many ways to get involved and help people in your community reach their full potential.
Check Ways to Get Involved