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Questions - Questions
Last updated April 2021

Frequently Asked Questions from members

Please see below for answers and feedback from ACO members to some recent FAQs ACO has distributed in member query emails. PLEASE NOTE: Organisations and services mentioned are responses from other ACO member charities and are not recommendations from ACO itself.

Various templates for charities can be accessed via our website Here.

Q: What CRM systems are other benevolent funds using?

When we last asked this question, Salesforce and Icaris were the two CRMs most widely used by ACO member charities. 

You can read one member's experience of using Salesforce in this article: 

Read more: The Best CRM systems for charities (Charity Digital) and Webinar Recording: Choosing the Right CRM for your Charity (Charity Digital)

Q: What HR/staff management software are other charities using?

Iris Cascade HR

Breathe HR


People HR

Q: How can I promote my benevolent fund to potential beneficiaries?

A factsheet/tipsheet summarising discussions from ACO's event on Connecting with Potential Beneficiaries can be downloaded from the bottom of this page.

Q: Does receiving grants impact a beneficiaries' benefit entitlement?

While most charities require individuals to be in receipt of all benefits they are entitled to before applying for a grant, receiving grants from a charity should not impact a beneficiary's entitlement to benefits (See more here).

Q: What organisations do charities work with to provide debt advice to beneficiaries?


Christians Against Poverty

Citizens Advice Manchester 

You can find more resources on our website around debt advice Here.

Q: Do charities award grants when their beneficiary has an addiction (e.g. gambling/alcoholism)?

Some charities will ask that beneficiaries undertake counselling, or access to similar help services, before they will offer them a financial grant. Several member charities responded saying they work with GamCare to help deliver gambling support for beneficiaries.

Other charities will not pay money directly to the beneficiary but will pay suppliers or services they need direct, or give shopping vouchers. 

One member kindly shared a template letter they send to beneficiaries below if they notice gambling on their bank statements:

“I was concerned when we were working on your application that it looks as though you’ve developed difficulties with gambling and I want to strongly advise that you seek help as quickly as you can if this is the case.

Here are some websites that I think you might find useful as a start

If you are in difficulties, please don’t ignore this suggestion – you’re not alone, we’re noticing a real increase in the numbers of people who are struggling at the moment and we’re passing the same advice to them.

With our best wishes”

Q: What are recommendations from other charities for GDPR consultants?

Hope & May


Farrer & Co


D'Arcy Myers (Consultdarcy) 

Olivia Whitcroft  

Q: How long do charities retain grant application data from beneficiaries?

The most common answer was 6-7 years (similar to other financial documentation and accounting practices) from the date of the applicant's last grant, or 6 months if the individual did not receive any support.

Q: How do charities provide mental health support for younger beneficiaries?

Several members responded that they work with partner Kooth to deliver mental health support to children, 

Working with International Beneficiaries

Q: How can I asses applications from international beneficiaries for need?

  • Look at cost of living figures for countries where beneficiaries are based.
  • Use volunteers or partners on the ground in that country to find out figures of cost of living and need in that country. 
  • Use the Cost of Living Index to evaluate costs of living globally. 
  • Use the UK minimum income standards (MIS) but adjust them to give an indication of the cost of living in another country. You can compare a basket of common goods in the UK to the country of residence to work out the difference in cost of living, along with comparing the GDP in the UK to that country to give a difference in ratio figure. These two different ratio figures are separately applied to the amount of the relevant household MIS level in the UK. The average between these two figures is calculated to give an indication of the applicants income against the MIS levels for their country.
  • Basket of goods:

  • GDP:  

Q: How can I check international applications for and spot fraud?

  • Put bank account (Bank Wizard) checks in place, and verifying the identity of applicants alongside government organisations. 

  • One-off payments can be given instead of regular allowances to minimise risk of fraud. Some payments are more difficult to check, such as for disability aids. Can offer a capped amount for equipment that falls into this category and investigate each individual application. Some charities do not offer all types of payment offered in the UK, such as debt and bankruptcy fees, and where due diligence cannot be conducted, but applications are reviewed case-by-case to review the fraud risk of each case. 

  • Can be a challenge to spotting fraud if you do not have someone on the ground in a particular country. Help from British Commonwealth can be given for assessing grants, can also help you find more applicants should you need them.

  • Ask for a wide variety of documentations and checking each thoroughly can help spot fraud. Membership qualifying periods could also prevent people applying fraudulently immediately after they join as your member. 

  • Fraudulent applications can be spotted by noticing applications being sent through with documents that don’t look right and were of low quality – dates incorrect on documents, consistency of information and resolution of document also being unclear. Seeing where documents are made such as if just created in a PDF writer and editable documents could also be a sign of fraud. You can also create and check against a bank of documents to check for any errors or differences in what you receive.

  • For more on general charity fraud resources click Here. 

Q: How do charities make payments to beneficiaries overseas?
  • By international bank transfer via their bank into their account abroad & pay the bank fees for the money transfer/currency exchange.

  • Using foreign currency intermediary called Currency UK 

  • Transferwise 


Icon Tip Sheet - Connecting with Potential Beneficiaries

General Information

Tips from ACO's webinar on Connecting with Potential Beneficiaries

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