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Last updated May 2020


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

Upcoming Events

ACO Annual Conference: 5th-7th October - Navigating through Challenging Times

We’d all agree 2020 has been a turbulent year for the charity sector!

Join us from 5-7 October for the virtual ACO Annual Conference – kindly supported by Smith & Williamson - bringing together colleagues from benevolent funds and grant-making charities throughout the sector to reflect, debate and re-energise through a series of envigorating panels, session and workshops.

Core sessions include:

  • Keynote Panel discussions: “Where Now for the Charity Sector?” and “Appliance Poverty – Living Without During Covid-19”;
  • Navigating the Crisis and Preparing for the Second Wave;
  • Considering Diversified Income;
  • Diversity & Inclusion in the Sector;

We will also run standalone workshops including Charity Mergers and Collaboration; Grant Management in a Digital World and Getting Back to Work After Lockdown – HR Perspectives;

Registration fees (ACO members £25/ACO Corporate Partners £30/Non-members £35) have been set deliberately low to encourage maximum participation from member and non-member charities for this digital event and provide full access to all three daily sessions.

Registrations now open on Eventbrite.

Register Here

With thanks to Smith & Williamson as official event sponsor

Grant Making Forum - Tuesday 22nd September

Our next Grant Making Forum will be taking place as a virtual event on Zoom on Tuesday 22 September at 11am - 12:30pm and is free for all ACO members to attend.

Register to attend on EventbriteJoining us for the morning will be three speakers:

Sam Royston - Director of Policy and Research at The Children's Society

The Coordinated Community Support programme is working with four areas (Oldham, Swansea, Tower Hamlets and Norfolk) to improve the coordination and delivery of emergency financial support.  As part of the work of the programme, we have been looking to improve awareness of and access to small grant provision for people facing emergency need.  This presentation will give a short introduction to this work – including the development of a new small grant application portal - and explore ways in which we could work together in the future.

Paul McAfee and Helen Bradley - Family Fund Business Services (FFBS)

Paul will talk about what FFBS has been working on over the last 6 months and how they have been supporting customers to deliver essential support to those in need. Helen will take a look at what the future holds for FFBS in light of what we have learned during this period and how we can use this experience to shape our processes and offering.

Dr. Neil Stanley - Director of Sleep Science at

We all need sleep so what is it, why is it important and what can go wrong? Sleepstation is here to help you understand and make your sleep better.

This session will be followed by a meeting of the ACO Under Fives in the afternoon.

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

Dates for 2020
  • Tuesday 22 September 2020

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.

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: 5-7 October 2020

We are pleased to announce that this year’s ACO Annual Conference will be running in a virtual format through three half-day morning sessions: Monday 5 October – Wednesday 7 October.

Annual Conference 2020 - Annual Conference 2020

Grant Making Forum - 22 September

Our next Grant Making Forum will be taking place as a virtual event on Zoom on Tuesday 22 September at 11am - 12:30pm and is free for all ACO members to attend. Please use the button below to register on Eventbrite to be sent joining details.

Grant Making Forum Sept 2020 - Grant Making Forum Sept 2020

Preparing to reoccupy your premises post-lockdown - Webinar 16 September

To help you in your preparations, Troy Johnson, Development Director at Griffiths & Armour, offers guidance for businesses to ensure a safe return to the workplace in this webinar taking place on Wednesday 16 September 12pm-1pm

Sleepstation - Guide to Better Sleep

Following their recent webinar, Sleepstation has put together a Guide to Better Sleep for ACO members.

Sleepstation Guide to Better Sleep - Sleepstation Guide to Better Sleep

Grant Making Forum 11 June 2020

A webinar recording of this Grant Making Forum can be viewed at the bottom of this page, and the PowerPoint presentations can also be downloaded at the end of this page.

Conference - Conference

Relate Webinar - May 2020

On Thursday 7 May Relate ran a webinar with ACO members to speak about what support they can provide to members' beneficiaries to help them maintain healthy relationships now and in the future.

Relate-Logo - Relate-Associate member logo

Annual Conference 2019 - Presentations

Thank you to those that made our ACO Annual Conference 2019 so successful. Thank you to EdenTree Investment Management and Wilsons Solicitors for sponsoring the event.

Annual Conference 2019  - Banner with details

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.

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