The Early Roots of United Way of Central Iowa

Mark Allen Hanrahan is a certified public accountant who led Principal Global Investors in Des Moines, Iowa, for more than two decades. Over the years, he closed transactions valued at more than $10 billion. Mark Allen Hanrahan maintains a strong community presence, having co-chaired a past effort with his company to raise several million dollars for United Way.

Headquartered in Des Moines, United Way of Central Iowa marks its centenary in 2016. The chapter of the nonprofit was established through the efforts of social worker Flora Dunlap, who had previously worked in Chicago with Jane Addams’ Hull House and came to Des Moines to operate the Roadside Settlement House, which assisted immigrant families.

United Way comprised a federation of nonprofits and was based on the pioneering work Ms. Dunlap had done in Cleveland in 1913. The federation centered on a “community chest” concept, through which funds raised were distributed among participating approved charities. This saved philanthropists the effort of personally evaluating each nonprofit to which they contributed. Supported by the Des Moines Chamber of Commerce, this successful effort began with an incredible $100,000 raised for 20 participating charities and ultimately evolved into an operation now known as United Way of Central Iowa.