Consolidation of the city's charities is recommended by businessman John W. Blodgett. He wrote, "Grand Rapids is preeminently a charitably inclined town. If a business man is approached once or twice a year only for contributions, he will give what he feels he is able, but if he is continually approached by beggars for commendable charities he will, in time, endeavor to get out of each as cheaply as he is able. Were our charities to consolidate they would become a part of the machinery of our city."
The Federation of Social Agencies is the beginning of our local United Way. David Warner, a local attorney, signs Articles of Association. New offices opened in the Association of Commerce Building, 5 Lyon NW.
Federation joins the National Information Bureau of New York. 23 agencies are included in the campaign. Daily luncheon updates on the campaign are usually held at Hong Ling Lo Restaurant. Cobbler gives 10 cents, all he can afford with five children of his own. Designations proposed in reorganization meeting to increase interest in the fund drive. Important decision on funding. Agencies will get funds as designated on pledge forms. If no funds are designated, trustees are allowed to fund as they see fit. Julius H. Amberg, a prominent Grand Rapid attorney, is elected president of the Welfare Union.
Low fundraising expenses of 0.9% disprove the contention that much of the money raised for charitable purposes is spent in the process of raising it. First time in history that the agencies have achieved solicitation objectives.
Campaign promotion includes a large chest symbolic of the Welfare Union Chest placed on a downtown street corner. 9:00 am factory whistles notify residents of the beginning of the campaign. 'Welfare Army" of 550 begins the drive.
The Welfare Union is the clearinghouse for Christmas gifts to avoid duplication of effort. Special meeting of the board to discuss the feasibility of the YMCA joining the Union. Grand Rapids is one of 300 cities using the approach of pooling agencies and raising all of the funds once a year.
"Red Feather" symbol used for the first time. Donors wear them in their hats. Suburbs included in the campaign for the first time. Special April Campaign. John W. Blodgett donates $10,000. Huge parade kicks off the campaign.
Director of the Welfare Union approved the name change to Community Chest. For the first time, public utility employees have their own division in the campaign. Senator Arthur Vandenberg is the keynote speaker for the campaign kickoff, and an army of 1,400 workers help fundraise.
A thermometer on the outside of the Pantlind Hotel marks the progress of the campaign. Major change in the makeup of the board of directors, 12 from the community and 12 from the participating agencies.
"…love thy neighbor as thyself and our community as we love it will survive." -Julius H. Amberg 1932
Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt leads the Women's Crusade to support and assist charitable agencies. The Salvation Army and the YMCA withdraw from Chest membership and run separate campaigns. Agency displays in leading department store windows. One in seven people in Kent County are dependent on public funds. Agency budgets are cut as the campaign fails by 1/3 to meet the need. Change in the organization allows for continuing pledges and organization of Employee Fellowships in commercial and industrial organizations.
Fellowship Plan paid for by payroll deductions of 5 cents per payday for each $12.50 in weekly salary. Mrs. M.R. Bissell dies. Prior to 1908, she was in charge of adoptions at what would become Blodgett Children's Home.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt launches the campaign "Be a Good Neighbor." Volunteers are featured the newspaper and time donated is recognized as just as important as the money some give. 400 solicitors cover the city. Each is responsible for a block or two. Hospitals put on separate solicitation for funds. State is fifth in WPA (Works Progress Administration) rolls. Goal is to shift 14,000 men from relief to work rolls.
Canadian Pacific liner "Empress of Britain" is sunk. Greece declares war on Italy. Federal Food Stamp Program is started.
M.R. Bissell, Jr. receives the Honorary Membership Award. Three hospitals return to the Chest to eliminate the need for extra drives for funds. Pledges can be paid by installment or by deduction from checking accounts.
YMCA and YWCA join the Community Chest. The number of donors expected to increase from 31,000 to 40,000 with the hospitals and two "Y's" included in the drive. One campaign compared to five the previous year.
Local Community Chest joins with "Community Chests of America" in first peace-time campaign since 1941. "Red Feather" is chosen as the symbol of the campaign and name changes to the Community Chest and Red Feather Service.