The awards ceremony took place during ACO’s 75th Anniversary celebrations on Thursday 11th November at Ruffer LLP, London. This had been the first opportunity ACO has had to bring its network of benevolent/grant-making charities together in-person to celebrate its anniversary due to the pandemic.
The awards were created to celebrate the vital role benevolent funds have played during the pandemic and beyond in helping struggling individuals and families with financial and wellbeing support, and to give recognition to the achievements of an often lesser-known part of the charity sector.
Dance Professionals Fund won the award for Charity of the Year (under £1m) for their multi-faceted response to the pandemic – raising more funds and working effectively with partners to give more in grants to those in their industry impacted by the pandemic as theatres closed and live entertainment ceased.
Smallwood Trust was awarded Charity of the Year (£1m – £5m) for their large increase in grants spend in response to the pandemic, both direct and through community frontline partners.
The Licensed Trade Charity walked away with the award for Charity of the Year (over £5m) for a considerable increase in grants given, supporting their industries as pubs closed across the country. They also sought innovative new approaches to grant applications and delivery, as well as had new services introduced quickly in support of a sector particularly badly hit by lockdowns.
The award for Campaign of the Year when to Hospitality Action for their Invisible Chips campaign as a light-hearted and inventive way to raise funds in aid of their support for the hospitality sector. This allowed diners to add a portion of Invisible Chips to their orders to help raise funds, as opposed to simply adding a donation to their bill.
The Outstanding Achievement Award went to Glenda Barnard, Operations Manager at The Book Trade Charity for always going the extra mile within their charity.
The celebratory event also featured varied case studies from ACO charities, including the Licensed Trade Charity, Turn2Us, Teaching Staff Trust and Buttle UK, which underlined the significant challenges that these frontline charities faced during the pandemic and evidenced the resilience and commitment of the sector as a whole.
ACO Chief Executive Donal Watkin commented, “It was fantastic to be able to bring together our member charities under positive circumstances to celebrate our 75th anniversary and hold our inaugural awards to recognise the huge achievements benevolent charities have made over the past two years to assist individuals and families during challenging times”.
“Tonight, we celebrated the continuing positive impact our charities play in the lives of individuals and their families in financial crisis. Here’s to another 75 years of ACO supporting and bringing together benevolent charities to help them serve their communities.”