This year’s conference was a chance to bring ACO members together, in person for the first time since 2019. We are proud to say that close to 120 people attended, representing charities with a diverse range of beneficiary groups.
With support from member charities and partner speakers, sessions stimulated conversations on how to tackle shared challenges within the grant-making sector. The conference also offered the opportunity to host the 2022 ACO Annual Awards and highlight excellent examples of organisations, individuals and collaborations that support people in crisis and celebrate our sector.
In light of current challenges surrounding the cost of living crisis, our first panel addressed how grant makers can respond to a possible increase in uncertainty and demand from beneficiaries. The breakout discussion following was a chance for member charities to discuss possible challenges they are facing in grant making as well as offer advice and learnings. A collective finding was how new flexible approaches may be a crucial consideration moving forwards for grant makers.
Our speakers Alison Davies of Family Fund and Mark Walker of AbilityNet shared how their organisations are tackling the digital divide and how instrumental digital inclusion can be for beneficiaries and their dependents. After emerging from the covid-19 pandemic, where the use of technology was paramount, charities demonstrated adaptability to grants and support offered to those facing hardship.
Our afternoon sessions focused on how Economic, Social and Governance (ESG) and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) are evolving within grant-making charities. The theme of mental health was raised as a focus point within organisations and a need to develop further interventions for those that charities’ support.
Our panellists, facilitated by EDI specialist Anj Handa, highlighted their personal learnings and guidance on addressing better EDI practice within charities. Speakers highlighted EDI as an ever-changing conversation that requires collaboration and new strategies, which we hope will be partly provided by ACO offering collaboration with colleagues in the sector.
Finally, we had our Collaboration Showcase to discuss some of the different projects ACO is working on. Tania Cohen updated members on the project with 360Giving to feature grants for individuals on their platform. Ali Russell (National Benevolent) discussed their goal to work collaboratively with ACO members to secure the best deals with suppliers to tackle appliance poverty. Emily Crawford (Glasspool) discussed a research project to investigate the true impact grantmakers have in providing furniture and appliances to individuals. And Ren Hooi (Lightning Social Ventures) gave members an update on their project to create a single grants application portal enabling individuals to apply for support more easily.
To close the event, we had the pleasure of highlighting some of the outstanding work our member charities and individuals have been involved with over the past year at our ACO Annual Awards.
The winners were:
We would once again like to thank everyone who submitted a nomination for this year’s awards as it was said to have been a very difficult decision for our judges – and a big congratulations to all our winners!