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Last updated December 2020


The ACO organises many networking events throughout the year, featuring fantastic speakers from across the sector. This includes our Annual Conference, bespoke webinars and quarterly grant-making forums

Upcoming 2021 Events

Dates for your diaries for upcoming events in 2021.

  • PR Group - Tuesday 19 January 2021 
  • Grant Making Forum - Thursday 21 January 2021 AM
  • Under Fives - Thursday 21 January 2021 PM
  • Benevolent Charities and their connected Professional Associations - Thursday 28 January 2021
  • CEO Forum - Thursday 11 February 2021
  • Establishing a Benevolent Fund - Thursday 25 February 2021
  • Fundraising Forum – Thursday 11 March
  • Increasing Diversity & Inclusion in the Benevolent/Grant-Making Sector – Thursday 25 March

Grant Making Forum - Thursday 21 January 2021

We're looking forward to welcoming members to our first Grant Making Forum of 2021! Please register on Eventbrite to attend and receive Zoom access details. 

This virtual event will feature presentations from the following speakers:

Helen Handzel - Relationship Manager at StepChange

Helen will present about the work being done by one of the UK's largest debt advice services during the pandemic, and how ACO members can work with Stepchange during a time where it is predicted more beneficiaries may be in need of debt advice.

Cassandra Beattie (Senior Business Development Manager) and Peter Dando (Sales Director) at Blackhawk Network

Blackhawk Network are a major UK supplier of gift card & voucher solutions, both digital and physical. Currently they are supporting charities with their hardship fund disbursement using Select rewards. The reasons this method is being used to support charities and impact their workload quite significantly in a positive way are:

•Providing beneficiaries with a range of retailers that they can redeem their value, which can be customised;

•Reducing admin and processing of bank transfers, purchase of individual gift cards etc. that you may currently do;

•Improve the audit trail as no cash would be given;

•Rewards would be received within 24 hours of an order being placed (but usually this is actually 1-4 hours);

•Provide reporting which would show retailer redemptions to give you some MI;

•A customised and personalised message sent to each recipient;

•No initial or ongoing fees.

Peter Gilheany - Charity Director at Forster Communications

Peter will be speaking about the charity sector's joint #NeverMoreNeeded campaign, which was established in 2020 during the pandemic to press the government for much-needed charity sector support. Peter will be giving an update on the campaign so far, and its plans for 2021.

Communications agency Forster Communications have been helping charities to shape this campaign since its inception. Peter is charity director at Forster Communications and has spent 25 years working in and for the voluntary sector. He started out at CSV, the volunteering charity, helped to create the Gift Aid It brand and has run hundreds of campaigns for charities across every issue and aspect of the sector.

This meeting will be followed by a meeting of the ACO Under Fives group at 2pm.

ACO Forum: Benevolent Funds and their Professional Associations - Thursday 28 January 11am - 1pm

Register for free on Eventbrite

Following the publication of the ACO Guide Benevolent Funds and their Professional Associations: Seizing Opportunities and Mitigating Risks last year, which looked at the relationship between benevolent charities and their connected professional associations/bodies, our free Forum event will take the opportunity to build on this discussion and take a practical look at some of the key issues that impact this partnership.

Through a combination of benevolent fund case studies, panel discussions and a Q & A we will explore how these connected bodies can work collaboratively to ultimately maximise the support delivered to the charity’s beneficiaries.

The programme will include:

 Setting the legal and governance background

 Benefits of effective collaboration

 Working to improve the relationship

 Data-sharing: issues and agreements

 Developing memorandums of understanding and service level agreements

The Forum will provide valuable takeaways in maintaining effective relationships between both bodies

Grant Making Forum (GMF)

We run quarterly meetings in London, which are all free to members and feature 2-3 speakers on issues of interest to our sector. Potential members can be invited to attend to get an idea about ACO and its membership.
Meetings are held at the British Dental Association, 64 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8YS, from 11am-1pm

Please note: Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic these events are currently being held virtually on Zoom for the foreseeable future. 

Under Fives

The Under Fives meeting follows on from the GMF after a half-hour break for lunch to start at 1:30pm.

The objective of the Under Fives group is to support smaller charities with five staff or less to meet their stategic goals.

The group discusses how themes relevant to the benevolent sector (presented in the Grant Making Forum) translate to charities delivering on a smaller scale. The group also gives the opportunity to discuss hands-on issues outside of the workplace, enabling staff to deal with day-to-day issues.

The ACO is grateful to the British Dental Association Benevolent Fund for supporting these events.

What our members say:

"We have found the ACO conferences an invaluable and cost effective method of inducting new Trustees. The high quality speakers added with the unrivalled opportunity to network with other Trustees, staff and volunteers who work within the benevolent sector really helps to embed the uniqueness of the work which we do and the context in which we operate. We aim to engage every Trustee with ACO events as a part of the Board's development plan".

"We have always found the ACO to be an immensely helpful and important resource in our grant making. Events such as the Annual Conference and Forums are important opportunities for sharing working practices and we have appreciated fellow members' willingness to offer help and advice over similar issues."


Q1 2021 Events Schedule

Events schedule for members from January - March 2021.

diary calendar - diary calendar

Grant Making Forum - 21 January

Registration is open for our first Grant Making Forum of 2021, which is free for all ACO members to attend.

Laptop computer - laptop computer

ACO Forum: Benevolent Funds and their Professional Associations

Thursday 28 January (11.00am – 1.00pm)

Lock and key - Lock and key

ACO Groups

ACO runs several working groups and forums that meet regularly throughout the year on different areas of focus for the charity sector and our member charities. If you wish to join any of the below groups, please get in touch with

Previous Webinars

Downloadable resources, recordings and presentations from previous ACO virtual events and webinars.

Grant Making Forum Past Presentations

Meetings are held at the British Dental Association, 64 Wimpole Street, London W1G 8YS, from 11am-1pm. This is a "Members-only" event, everyone is welcome and attendance is free.

Grant Making Forum & Under Fives Meetings - Graphics