About United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin

UW_LOGO_VERT_colour_IDYour United Way

Committed, caring, informed, relevant, and local.

For more than 75 years, United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin has worked to monitor and meet the pressing social needs of our community. Directed by a volunteer board, managed by committed staff and supported by thousands of donors, United Way works with partners in all sectors to identify needs and raise funds to support programs in response to those needs.

Thanks to the generosity of thousands of donors and the hard work of our funded agencies, we have improved the lives of children, youth, adults, families and seniors living in Guelph, Wellington County, and Dufferin County.

Our Mission

United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin strives to meet existing and emerging social needs in order to improve lives and build community.

Our Values

In pursuing our mission, we are committed to the following guiding values:

  • We will strive to fund initiatives in strategic community impact areas that address our community’s most important needs.
  • We will work collaboratively with the community to ensure our achievements are defined by our collective success.
  • We will ensure that our organization, network, and work reflect our diverse communities.
  • We will amplify voices of marginalized people and co-create equitable solutions.
  • We will work to identify and address structural racism that exists within our work and commit to continuous learning, calling each other in and listening to understand those affected by discrimination to build an inclusive network.
  • We will strive to exceed our donor, volunteer, and community partners’ expectations.
  • We will work to ensure the trust placed in us by our community and donors will always be well founded.
  • We will strive for excellence in service, continuous improvement, and inclusiveness in all that we do.
  • We will uphold the highest ethical standards in all areas.
  • We will act in a socially responsible manner with all whose lives we touch.
  • We will be accountable and transparent in all that we do.

Our Work

Raising funds. Investing in local programs.


United Way raises funds for local agencies and programs through the single largest annual community fundraising campaign in Guelph and Wellington and Dufferin counties, with the help of hundreds of volunteers within the community.

Community Investment:

  • Community Impact: United Way staff work closely with local community groups to achieve meaningful, long-term improvements to quality of life in the communities of Guelph, and Wellington and Dufferin Counties. Community Impact is about addressing not just the symptoms of problems but also getting at the root causes.

  • Fund Distribution: United Way invests in local programs that help thousands of people in our community on their journey to a better quality of life. Click here to see the list of programs we support.

    United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin is a charitable organization (Registered Charitable no. 10745 7053 RR0001).

Our History

The local United Way began in 1940 as the Guelph Community Chest for War & Welfare Services. It was established to conduct a single, annual campaign for voluntary sector agencies that were conducting individual campaigns.

From 1945 to 1970 the organization was known by many names, such as Red Feather, United Community Funds, Community Chest and the Guelph United Way.

By 1971, the organization had adopted the name of the Guelph and District Community Services Council. At this time, an important shift took place – the organization established a Social Planning program to identify and respond to community needs, as well as to develop a rationale basis for distributing funds.

One of the first activities of the social planning program was the identification of agencies that provided services in the community. This exercise resulted in the creation of Guelph Information – an information and referral service that helped residents access community services.

Between 1976 and 1982, it was recognized that the public did not easily understand or identify with the “Community Service Council”. Therefore, the name was changed to United Way Social Planning Council to clearly identify the organization’s core programs.

During this period, the campaign experienced tremendous growth, more than doubling its results in ten years. This was attributed to having participated in one of United Way of Canada’s first On-site Campaign Analyses, a thorough assessment of data and campaign practices.

In the following years, the organization made significant gains in its campaign, the number of funded programs increased significantly, and a volunteer leadership development program was established. After the loss of government funding in 1995, the organization re-examined its activities and decided to outsource Guelph Information and the Volunteer Leadership Development service (which became the Volunteer Centre of Guelph/Wellington (link to site)). This shift reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to three core programs: social planning, campaign, and fund distribution.

Today, United Way funds local social service programs in Guelph and Wellington County. Additionally, United Way services Orangeville and Dufferin County. In 2012, United Way board of directors changed the working name of the organization to better reflect the all of the areas served.

Donors have contributed over $45 million to United Way over the past twenty years, and the campaign continues to grow, raising over $3.5 million in 2014. United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2015.

2019-2022 United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin Strategic Plan

United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin plays a pivotal role helping kids be all they can be, moving people from poverty to possibility and creating strong communities. Making real and lasting change requires the contributions, expertise, and commitment of everyone in our community – including donors, residents, businesses, agencies, volunteers, government and more.

We know that the social issues facing our community are challenging. We also know that the ways that people want to connect to make a difference in their community are changing. United Way is adapting to meet these needs.

Over the last year (2018), we have actively engaged a wide range of people and perspectives to shape our way forward. We have been listening to donors, agencies, volunteers and leaders, while also examining the latest research on philanthropy and community impact. We’ve learned that we can leverage our history to strengthen our future.

United Way’s role has always been to build community connections and resources in order to improve lives. With your support, we are elevating our role as a catalyst for change in Guelph, Wellington and Dufferin.

Read the Strategic Plan

Strategic Directions Reference Materials