What we learned at the ACO conference


Company update, Family Fund Business Services

Last month, Family Fund Business Services were attendees and co-sponsors at the ACO Annual Conference 2022, which was back in person for the first time since 2019. This is the first time FFBS have sponsored an event of this kind.

The conference was attended by 120 people from across the charity sector, and was an opportunity to discuss key issues currently facing their organisations.

Top of the agenda was the cost of living crisis, which has led to an increased demand for grants, and how charities could respond to this increased demand and uncertainty. Another key issue was climate change and sustainability, and the practical challenges this could pose for charities. Next, there was a panel and discussion which emphasised the importance of digital inclusion, and the role of charities in addressing the digital divide. The final panel was about equality, diversity and inclusion, with a focus on how to cultivate effective EDI cultures.

The event closed with the ACO Annual Awards, where everyone came together to celebrate the great work of charities and individuals over the last year. FFBS’ parent charity, Family Fund, received a special commendation for Collaboration of the Year, for their partnership with McCain.

Screen at the ACO conference, with panellists discussing the cost of living

Our key learnings

It is clear that the biggest challenge within the charity sector for the coming months will be the cost of living crisis. As grant makers face a rise in demand from beneficiaries, attendees discussed solutions to the increasing uncertainty faced by many. Delivering both short and long term support was discussed to ensure that beneficiaries receive sustainable benefit from grants. The importance of adopting new strategic and flexible approaches to cope with demand was also emphasised by many attendees.

Due to the role of technology in awarding grants, improving digital inclusion and bridging the digital divide is vital to ensuring all beneficiaries can receive support. Ensuring no one is excluded as charities continue to develop digitally is an issue that should be tackled collaboratively as a sector. To improve EDI within charities, new strategies may need to be developed, and there was an emphasis on ensuring mental health is a top priority for organisations.

For all of the topics discussed, it became clear that collaboration within the industry is an important way to generate solutions to the shared challenges we face.

Mary Alcock, Phil Henderson, and Paul McAfee at the FFBS stall
Head of Client Relationships Mary Alcock, Director Phil Henderson and Account Manager Paul McAfee

How FFBS can help

For FFBS, the issues discussed at the conference highlighted the importance of our work providing cost effective solutions for our clients, so that they can continue to support their beneficiaries through this difficult and uncertain time. FFBS is able to fulfil short term grants for our clients, through products such as energy vouchers, whilst also offering physical items, such as white goods, which will improve the lives of our customers’ beneficiaries long term.

In the future, FFBS hopes to attend and sponsor more events like the ACO Annual Conference, so we can continue to meet with representatives from relevant organisations face to face. This will help FFBS to understand the issues our customers face, how we can further support these customers, and how we can work together to overcome these challenges.

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