By 1918, the Binghamton United Relief Organization had been formed to coordinate fund-raising activities among several local health and human service organizations. The name of the organization was changed to the Character Chest in 1933 and then to the Community Chest in 1939. Five organizations were charter members in 1933. They were Boys Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA, and YWCA. Catholic Charities was added to membership in 1938, and Day Nurseries, Girls' Club, and Inter-Racial Association came aboard in 1939. American Civic Association and Family & Children's Service Society joined in 1940.

The change from Character Chest to Community Chest was more than a change in name. The entire organization was changed. The Community Chest membership included the directors of all the member agencies (about 200 people) matched by 200 citizens from the community at large. There were 18 members of the new organization's Board of Directors, six chosen from the member agencies, three chosen from the Council of Social Agencies (a local organization of non-profit organizations, schools, and governmental agencies involved in social work), three members of the campaign committee of the new organization, and six members at large. Care was taken to have a balanced board, with both women and men, as well as religious representation.

New, permanent offices were established for the Community Chest at 63 Court Street (second floor), Binghamton, in 1939. The office was moved to the tenth floor of the Security Mutual Building about four years later, and then to 32 Henry Street in the early 1950s.

The first permanent executive secretary, Frank E. Gugelman, was hired in 1941. He served until his death in 1947. William W. Blodgett Jr. was then hired as executive director. He was succeeded by Donald M. Chase as executive secretary in 1949.

Similar Community Chest organizations soon were established in Endicott and Johnson City. The community chests were responsible for fund raising and fund distribution. In 1954, the three community chests were combined into a single countywide organization, Broome County United Fund, and another organization, the Social Planning Council, was established to be responsible for issue assessment, service coordination, and trend analysis. Both organizations shared offices in the American Legion Hall in Johnson City. In April 1959 a new facility, called the Broome United Community Services Center, was opened on Vestal Parkway at Jensen Road in Vestal. This building continues as the offices of United Way today.

In 1973, the United Fund and the Social Planning Council merged and the new name United Way of Broome County was adopted. Donald M. Chase served as executive director of the Broome County United Fund until 1970. F. Arthur Grambling served as executive director from 1971 to 1986, when he was succeeded by John G. Spencer, who served until 2007.  Alan G. Hertel began his duties in 2008 through March 2016. The current Executive Director, Robin Alpaugh began his duties in April of 2016.