ACO 2022 Annual Conference and Awards

ACO is delighted to share details of our annual conference and awards ceremony which took place on 22nd September.

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:

  • The Small Charity of the Year award was awarded to The Royal Navy Officers’ Charity with special commendation to The Book Trade Charity.
  • The Charity of the Year (£1-5m)  award was awarded to The Care Workers Charity.
  • The Charity of the Year (£5m+) Charity award was awarded to RABI
  • Campaign of the year was awarded to caba with a special commendation to The Drinks Trust.
  • Collaboration of the Year was awarded to The RAF Benevolent Fund and The OT Practice with special commendation to Buttle UK and The Family Fund/McCain.
  • The Digital Transformation award went to Pharmacist Support.
  • The Outstanding Achievement award went to Suhel Bhulo from caba.
  • Acting for Others was awarded a special award for their networking and support of other organisations.

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!