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Last updated October 2016

Charity Membership

If you are a Charity that gives grants and welfare support to individuals and families in need then the Association of Charitable Organisations is the specialist support organisation for you.

The ACO is the national UK umbrella body for Trusts and Foundations that give grants and welfare support to individuals in need.

The funds managed by ACO members are discretionary, and seek to complement and enhance welfare support provided by local and central government. Our members operate in the UK and across the globe. Over the last few years many funds have reviewed their operations, researching patterns of need and developing more strategic programmes of assistance.

ACO members

Over 100 registered charities, all independent of state funding and seeking to raise their profile and help more people.

ACO members make grants to many hundreds of thousands of people each year offering them support, advice and befriending. Over £150 million is given annually in grants alone.
Number of people helped in the UK - potentially the 12.5 million people in the UK with less than 50% of average income can benefit. There are also eligible people overseas.

Reasons to join the ACO

ACO provides support to its members with a wide range of services and support


building peer networks providing opportunities for members to share, and get advice and support;

Raising standards...

promoting good practice, tackling problems together and offering solutions;


Training charity professionals on finance, welfare, fund raising, governance, grant making and benefits.

On-Line services...

websites and member forums giving opportunities to seek and share advice and experience.

Lobbying and campaigning...

giving our members a voice by responding to government consultations and raising awareness about the work of our member organisations;

Providing information...

providing members with up to date information tailored to their specific interests through a monthly newsletter and policy briefings;

Corporate members...

offers from providers of goods and services with competitive pricing and guaranteed service levels, available only to ACO members.

Membership types

Basic Subscription

For organisations with an annual turnover of less than £1m

Band A Subscription

For organisations with an annual turnover between £1m and £3m

Band B Subscription

For organisations with an annual turnover between £3m and £5m

Band C Subscription

For organisations with an annual turnover over £5m

Low Income Subscription

For organisations with a low income and subject to approval by the Treasurer.

Benefits of Membership


Free newsletter published ten times per annum. Packed with up to date information and the latest guidance specifically tailored to organisations that give grants and welfare support to people in need.

The newsletter is sent to every email address within your organisation at the beginning of the month. A free sample copy is available on request.


Members can attend a range of meetings and networks free of charge. This includes the Grant Making Forum, Finance & Legal Group, Leadership Forum, and Under Fives Group (for solo workers and small staff teams). ACO organises regular one off meetings on specialist areas.

Annual Conference

Once a year ACO organises a national conference for benevolence funds bringing together members with keynote speakers, and workshops run by experts promoting best practice in grant making and welfare support.


ACO runs regular training events to support staff in member organisations in their roles.

Lobbying and Campaigning

ACO represents member's views on issues of concern to government, opinion formers and policy makers. We lobby to promote a better public understanding of benevolence: the giving of time and money to help people in need.

Information Leaflet for Charity Membership of ACO

Icon ACO Charity Membership Leaflet 2016-17

General Information

Information on becoming a charity member of ACO with current subscription rates

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