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Last updated September 2021

What we do

We are the umbrella body for charitable organisations that provide grants and other support services to individuals in need. With over one hundred member charities, we provide support and encourage best practice, knowledge sharing and collaboration in the charity sector by providing a wide range of services and networking opportunities.

Stronger together

Through whatever challenges have been thrown at the benevolence sector, we have been there to support our member charities and provide a forum for the ACO network to come together to help tackle these challenges together. 

We run regular events, webinars and small discussion groups allowing members to get together and discuss common issues we all face.  Additionally, we frequently help members tap into the expertise of others in the network, and help members connect with others who may be able to offer support and advice. 

The ACO also sits on a forum with other charity infrastructure bodies throughout the sector, including NCVO, ACEVO, NACVA, Small Charities Coalition and Charity Finance Group – to provide a unified voice for our sector and work with others to campaign/lobby on issues of importance. We also sit on several other groups to contribute on charity sector issues, including the Charities Against Fraud group and Charity User Group. 

Enabling charities to better serve their beneficiaries 

We provide considerable opportunities for members to collaborate, and share knowledge and best practice with others in the ACO network. This is done through:
  • Regular events and bespoke webinars attended by expert external speakers on different topics of interest for the charity sector. Previous examples include: GDPR, benefits, debt advice, charity fraud, re-branding, governance, communications, fundraising and much more.
  • The opportunity for members to share their work and campaigns at member events. 
  • Running our Annual Conference as a full-day networking event bringing together members throughout the ACO around presentations delivered by expert speakers. 
  • A question and answer service provided by ACO for members that are looking for assistance from others with different expertise within the ACO network. 
  • Smaller discussion/working groups and forums that meet quarterly, including ACO's PR Group, Under Fives (for small charities with under five staff or solo workers), CEO Forum and International Beneficiaries Group. 
  • Sharing useful resources, templates and learnings from others in the network both on the Members Area's of our website and in our monthly members' newsletter Charity News Review.
  • Running regular benchmarking surveys allowing us to share data and insights from across the ACO to our members.
  • Access to knowledge and services run by our Corporate Partners, including our free Legal Helpline run by Russell Cooke Solicitors.
  • Assisting members in recruiting new staff and Trustees through our Jobs Board and recruitment service. 

Providing a voice for members

We understand not all charities have the resource to carry out extensive marketing and PR work to promote their benevolent fund, and those that do have this resource can benefit from working with others to share their messages more widely. 

We actively seek to raise awareness of the services and work being done by our member charities through sharing campaigns throughout the network and on social media. We also run frequent campaigns throughout the year to promote the work of benevolent funds, conduct outreach work on behalf of members to build long-term relationships amongst key advice and referral agencies, contribute comment and articles to external charity publications and organisations, and present at charity sector events to boost recognition of the work of benevolent funds within our sector. 

We also actively strive to improve public awareness of the work and role of benevolent funds in society through regular campaign activity. 

Interested in joining our network?

We have different options for Charity, Corporate and Associate members to join the ACO network. For more information about becoming an ACO member please fill out the below form or email

ACO Membership Leaflet & Current Subscription rates

Icon ACO Membership Guide 2021


ACO Membership Guide with more information on ACO membership for 2021.

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