Aloha United Way began serving Hawaii's people in 1919 when Frank C. Atherton established the United Welfare Fund under the jurisdiction of the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce.
The United Welfare Fund was formed to create a more efficient way to raise money for 17 charitable institutions, changing history by bringing in $186,000 its first campaign year. The United Welfare Fund became a separate legal entity in 1938. The new organization was renamed the Honolulu Community Chest and was combined with the National War Fund for the duration of World War II. In 1966, a citizens' committee dissolved the Honolulu Community Chest and created the Aloha United Fund. Lowell Dillingham was named president and forty-two agencies participated in the Fund the first year.
The Aloha United Fund officially changed its name to Aloha United Way in 1974 to maintain uniformity between similar federated giving organizations throughout the country and its national service bureau, United Way of America.
During the 1990s, Aloha United Way shifted from a focus on fundraising to a focus on inspiring collective solutions to community problems