November 2, 2020
Long Before Live United, Slogans Define United Way
Publications, PSAs, posters, banners, letterhead, and clothing have long carried unforgettable messages from United Way organizations, defining themselves and their constituents from the beginnings of “Give Once for All” to today’s LIVE UNITED. Our slogans have been clever: “Put All Your Begs in One Askit” (Cincinnati 1925) and compelling: “Don’t Give Until It Hurts, Give Until It Helps” (Licking County, Newark, OH, 1964). Whether a multi-year hallmark like, “Thanks to YOU – it’s working the United Way,” or the one-shot, “If you don’t do it, it won’t get done,” our slogans have defined us.
Innovation characterized Minneapolis’ slogans during the early years of that community’s campaigns. In 1920, posters carried the complex message, “All races, creeds, humanity smile when the Town Tea Kettle sings. In 1923, they simply read, “Have a Heart to Finance 65 Social Agencies.” During the early 1930s, their creativity continued to supply slogans that were copied by many other United Way organizations. Their 1928, 1929, and 1930 advertising read, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother,” and pictured a young man carrying a boy holding a crutch. Years after its use by United Way organizations, those words became the trademark of Omaha-based Boys’ Town. Thanks to George Eastman’s film business, Rochester’s 1920 to 1927 campaign theme became the title of United Way’s first campaign movie: “Suppose Nobody Cared.”
We’ve earned our livings surrounded by posters that read, “Give Where You Work.” At the borders of many bedroom communities, competing billboards said, “Give Where You Live.” And if we lived or worked abroad, the words appearing with the United Way helping hand logo in Hungary read “Elj Egységesen” (Live United), in Poland, “Zyć Zjednoczony,” and in China, “活着团结.”
Author: Dick Aft, UW Historian and UWRA Emeritus Board Member
“Give Today, Change Tomorrow” represents the impact agenda of United Way of McClean County (Bloomington, IL). Recently, Union County (Marysville, OH) citizens were reminded that United Way was in the business of “Bringing NEIGHBORS together...improving LIVES.” The 2015 Rowan County United Way (Salisbury, NC) campaign slogan was patriotic: “Red, White and U. United We Can.”
Some slogans are timeless, for example: “Give Once for All” (1920s) and “One Gift Works Many Wonders” (1960s). Others have reflected a place in time, such as: “Local and War Relief in One Gift” (World War I), “Rebuild” (1930s following the Depression), and “Take Care of the Home Front” (World War II).
Recently, employers have interpreted United Way campaigns to their employees with in- house slogans. Burns & McDonnell in Kansas City recently ran their United Way campaign under the banner, “Give a Little, Change a Lot.” Last year, University of Pittsburgh students saw colleagues featured on posters that read, “I May Not Have a Lot, But I Have More Than Many. Give the United Way.” Today, every letter from Brian Gallagher, United Way Worldwide President, and many others encourage readers to LIVE UNITED. During the 1990’s, communications from Russy Sumariwalla, President of United Way International and former head of the national United Way Institute, reminded us that we were engaged in “Building Caring Communities, the United Way.”
Many United Ways have started affinity groups for those who’ve left their local workforce, choosing apt names like: “Always United,” “Continue United,” or “Forever United.” UWRA staff often close their communications with “Stay United.”
Any way you read them, United Way slogans have defined us and continue to remind us that we LIVE UNITED because “It Brings Out the Best in All of Us.”
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