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Last updated March 2019


Every year ACO organises an Annual Conference with excellent speakers, a thought-provoking programme and unparalleled networking opportunities. It has become an unmissable date in the diary for organisations helping people in need. This year's Annual Conference is on Friday 10th May 2019

Upcoming Events

Annual Conference 2019

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Kindly supported by Edentree Investment Management

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ACO Annual Conference will be held on Friday 10th May 2019 at One Great George Street, London SW1P 3AA

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Benevolent funds are a force for good in a troubled world, offering a helping hand and a sympathetic ear to people in need. ACO members help people overcome isolation and loneliness and promote their wellbeing and economic independence. Join us for the sector's event of the year to hear thought-provoking speakers, network with your peers, make new friends and keep in touch with other like-minded staff and trustees.

Speakers include:

  • Lindsay Judge, Senior Research & Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation
  • Liz Emerson, Co-Founder, Intergenerational Foundation
  • PR agency Definition
  • Srabani Sen OBE, CEO and Founder at Full Colour
  • Zoe Amar, Chair of The Charity Digital Code of Practice
  • Henry Stewart, CEO and Chief Happiness Officer at Happy Ltd
  • Kirsty Lilley, Mental Wellbeing Workplace Consultant and CABA Associate Trainer.  

Drinks reception supported by Wilsons Solicitors LLP

Bookings now open!

You can book via Eventbrite

ACO Annual General Meeting (AGM) 2019

The ACO's Annual General Meeting will be held in London (EC4) on Wednesday 12th June at 3pm, followed by a drinks reception.

This year's AGM will be an opportunity for members to meet the new team at the ACO, including new members of staff, and new trustees in the form of our new Chair and Treasurer. We will also be providing information about our future plans, and inviting discussion and your comments.

Booking details to follow soon.

We are grateful to Haysmacintyre for supporting this event.

Grant Making Forum (GMF)

We also run quarterly Grant Making Forum meetings in London, Manchester and York and quarterly meetings for organisations with small staff teams in London, which are all free to members. Potential members can be invited to attend to get an idea about ACO and its membership.

ACO also organises an Autumn Summit. 

Dates for 2019:

  • Thursday 13th June
  • Wednesday 11th September
  • Monday 25th November

Grant Making Forum (GMF) - Thursday 13th June

Our next Grant Making Forum will be held on Thursday 13th June in London (11am-1pm), with the Under-fives group after lunch at 1:30pm. The speakers at this forum include:

BBC Children in Need - Paul McAfee, Partnership Manager at Family Fund

Paul will give an overview of the management of the BBC Children in Need’s Emergency Essentials programme, a summary of the first year, operational challenges (and solutions), number of grants awarded, and how they used tools such as deprivation mapping. This programme supports families living in severe financial, health and social difficulties, and provides items that meet children's most basic needs. Items covered by the grants, which will total £3 million, include beds, kitchen appliances, clothing and any other items and services that are critical to children's wellbeing,

Cyber Risk and how to manage it - Huw Evans, Development Director at aQmen

Huw takes a look at the range of cyber risks we all face, strategies for mitigating the impact and how insurance can help.

Presentations will be filmed and materials published on the ACO's website so that those unable to travel can access these expert briefings.

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.

We are planning to create a virtual network to encourage greater participation from members between meetings.

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

"The New Normal": ACO Annual Conference 2018

Last year's Annual Conference had a strong cast of expert speakers around the subject of 'The New Normal' - recognising that the very nature of charity is changing - including Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO; Helen Barnard, Head of Analysis at Joseph Rowntree Foundation; Alan Bryce, Head of Development & Operational Intelligence at the Charity Commission; Craig Dearden-Phillips MBE. Craig is the author of two best-selling business book for social entrepreneurs, is a regularly columnist for The Guardian, Third Sector and MJ magazine and a sought-after public speaker. 

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."


Annual Conference 2019

This year's ACO Annual Conference will be held on Friday 10th May 2019 at One Great George Street, London SW1P 3AA

Annual Conference 2019  - Banner with details

AGM 2019

See page for details

ACO Conference 2018 - follow-up

A BIG thankyou to everyone who attended our Annual Conference on Friday 27 April, to Quilter Cheviot for kindly sponsoring and to our fantastic line-up of Speakers. A very enjoyable day was had by all and the feedback has been great - thankyou!

ACO Annual Conference 2018 - Graphic depicting a speaker addressing an audience at a conference

Charity Times Awards 2018 - 3 October 2018

The Charity Times Awards celebrate best practice in the UK charity and not-for-profit sector and are now in their 19th year.

Charity Times Awards 2018 - Graphics from the Charity Times website

Grant Making Forum

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. No need to book (unless we ask), just turn up!

Grant Making Forum & Under Fives Meetings - Graphics

Under Fives Meeting

A group meeting for solo workers and small staff teams ("under 5 employees"). The meeting is Chaired & Minutes taken however there is no agenda and members discuss topics of interest and pose questions. This is a great forum for support/ advice/ Best Practice and general sharing. No booking required. ACO members only.

Grant Making Forum & Under Fives Meetings - Graphics

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