Annual conference 2022

Thank you to everyone who joined us in person for an inspirational, thought-provoking day.

Particular thanks to speakers and those who led our 14 breakout sessions. Read our conference recap here. 

We'll be updating this webpage to include more information, pictures and content from the day so please do re-visit.

What some of you said...


The day began with a welcome speech from ACF chief executive Carol Mack OBE.


She highlighted that: “It feels like now is a pivotal moment for foundations – where over the next 10 years we can build on this courage and leadership with hope or we can fall back to our comfort zone in the onslaught of crisis after crisis and fail to seize the potential of this moment. My hope and ambition for us as a sector is that we can build on the good work we have begun and be ever more courageous and brave as we do so. To use our independence, money, power with a strong values driven approach. To be courageous with our ideas and thinking; courageous about how we fund, what we fund, and courageous how we lead and work with others.”

Read Carol's speech in full here.

Watch the video of the speech here.


Powerful keynote

Professor Lucy Easthope gave a powerful speech from her perspective as an expert in disaster recovery and emergency planning. She spoke about: 


• The courage to be the dissenting voice in the room, the ‘wildcard’
• The need to question the kind of help you are offering, is it really what people need, or is someone else already providing that
• The foresight to prepare in advance, encourage good decision-making and check in with national and local community risk registers regularly to see what could be on the horizon.

Read Professor Easthope's guest blog

Watch the speech here.

Insightful discussion

Our panel speakers David Knott, Junior Smart, Danny Sriskandarajah, Róisín Wood – chaired by Joanna Elson – reflected on a broad range of ideas and example of courageous leadership.

David Knott said that a courageous leader sees the system they are operating in and is part of and understands how to drive change in that system.

Junior Smart wished for more to be done to support those from within marginalised communities to step into leadership and decision-making positions, so that they no longer “co-produce but produce the services” and for power to be meaningfully shifted.

Danny Sriskandarajah talked about the challenge to foundations in the room was to back ideas, people and institutions that have a chance to deliver a radically better world given what we face.  

Róisín Wood spoke about the importance of humility and empathy within courage and the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. 


Watch the video of this discussion here.

Our conference is supported by our Official Partners


Connecting and reflecting

People connected and shared ideas and experiences in the exhibition and networking areas.


Throughout the day, delegates shared their thoughts and ideas on what skills future foundation leaders would need. 

Brilliant breakouts

In the afternoon, each delegate attended two member-led breakout sessions, from a total of 14.


Closing remarks from the Minister

Conversations continued as people gathered for closing remarks from ACF’s interim chair Jessica Brown at a drinks reception, hosted by Mercer.

This ACF reception was also Stuart Andrew MP's first public engagement as minister for civil society.

Mr Andrew said: "Trusts and foundations are lifelines to so many civil society organisations - providing crucial independent funding to enable them to carry out their work and support communities across the country. I’d like to extend my thanks and appreciation to you, the leaders of trusts and foundations, for the resilience you’ve shown over the past few challenging years. And the determination you’ve displayed in tackling our current economic challenges."

Read his full speech.


Thanks to our Official Partners and sponsors

Our thanks to our Official Partners and sponsors who helped make the conference such a lively, engaging day.

What's next?

The conference was the start of a conversation about courage and leadership. We'll be following up during 2023 and taking forward the key points that people made and would like us to prioritise. 

Next conference

As part of our new five year strategy, we’re taking some time to re-imagine our annual conference, reflecting on member feedback and comments. We’d love to hear your views! Email us to get involved and share your thoughts [email protected]



 ACF annual conference 2022 - key themes

Read here 



More about the theme

Across society, new ways of doing things are emerging at a pace that is likely to accelerate in the decade ahead.  

The conference will explore the practical challenges for leaders in ensuring that their foundations are well-placed to contribute to the changes we will all need to make. 

What is courageous foundation leadership within, and for, communities? Is it tangible and achievable? How do foundations invest in models that will serve well for the next ten years? What risk-taking by grantees have foundation leaders admired and what can be learnt from them? Could foundations be more proactively fearless for people becomingly more marginalised? 

What would the next generation of foundation leaders want us to take a stand on? 

The conference will ask leaders to shape the conversations for foundations over the next decade and consider the practical actions they can take now to ensure they are championing a more equitable future for the communities and causes being supported in the UK and internationally.


Keynote speaker

Professor Lucy Easthope LLB MSc PhD FHEA FRAI FEPS

Lucy is a leading authority on recovering from disaster. For over two decades she has challenged others to think differently about what comes next, after tragic events. She is a passionate and thought-provoking voice in an area that few know about: emergency planning. However in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, her work has become decidedly more mainstream.

Read more

She has advised government departments, corporations, emergency and health services and charities throughout her career. Her new book ‘When The Dust Settles’ is a Sunday Times bestseller. She is a Professor in Practice of Risk and Hazard at the University of Durham where she co-founded the After Disaster Network, Fellow in Mass Fatalities and Pandemics at the Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath and a Research Associate at the Joint Centre for Disaster Research, Massey University, New Zealand.

Chair of the panel


Joanna Elson

Joanna is Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust, whose vision is to help people across the UK to tackle their debts and manage their money with confidence.
Previously, she was Executive Director at the British Bankers’ Association running their policy department for personal and small business customers. Before that she was a House of Commons researcher and prior to that a primary school teacher.

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Joanna is a director of the financial services trade association UK Finance, representing vulnerable consumers, Chair of the Advisory Board at Birmingham University’s Centre on Household Assets and Savings Management, and a member of the Government’s Financial Inclusion Policy Forum. She is also Vice Chair of the Friends Provident Foundation, a Chartered Director and a Director of Fair 4 All Finance, which is using dormant account assets to improve financial inclusion.
She lives in North London with her husband, Simon Horne, who is a Headteacher, and their three daughters. In her spare time she reads, runs, cycles and climbs Munros.



David Knott

David is the Chief Executive of The National Lottery Community Fund since October 2021

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David has had a varied public service career, previously as Director of the Office for Civil Society. He has also worked internationally, advising on governance, international development and public policy in more than a dozen countries, and in the private sector. His work has spanned fields of education, health, civil society and community development, and topics including social mobility, loneliness and culture change. He has two degrees in Economics and one degree in Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Junior Smart

Junior joined St Giles Trust in 2006 upon his release from prison from where he served a 10 year sentence for a drug and gang related offence.

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With support from St Giles Trust he is credited in developing the award winning SOS Gangs project, London’s largest ex-offender gangs exit programme.
Junior Smart is not only a Youth Leader but a qualified trainer and Gangs Consultant. Despite dropping out of education at the age of 14 he has achieved a First Class degree in Youth Work and Distinction in his MA in Criminology, Youth Crime and Justice. He is currently undertaking a PhD at University College London. His main focus has been centred on Violence Desistance in all its forms and he regularly designs new projects, feeds into public policy through Public Policy Exchange and the Centre for Social Justice and consults with the Met Police as well as other statutory bodies on best practice.
In 2021 he was recognised with the OBE for his ongoing work with society’s most vulnerable and marginalised.

Danny Sriskandarajah

Dr Danny Sriskandarajah has been Chief Executive Officer of Oxfam Great Britain since January 2019. Prior to that he led CIVICUS, the global alliance of civil society organisations, and was Director General of the Royal Commonwealth Society. 


Róisín Wood

Róisín Wood in the Chief Executive of the Community Foundation for NI.

Read more

Since taking up post in June 2021 Róisín has continued to lead the Foundation from strength to strength, unlocking the potential for communities, grass roots organisations and those who are vulnerable or marginalised in our society.
Operating at the highest level the experience that Róisín draws upon includes holding the position of CEO of Kick it Out, English football’s equality and inclusion organisation almost two decades as a lay magistrate with a focus on youth and families, alongside holding the position of board member for London Youth games and a member of the National Football League's Ethics and Standards Committee.
 This wealth of experience and knowledge has given her a diverse skill set which she has been able to use advocating on behalf of community needs to create a fairer society.
In 2018, Roisin was awarded an OBE for services to tackling discrimination in football and continues to have a strong interest in making change, sitting as an advisor to the Global Institute of Sport and a Non-Executive Director to Touchline Technoloy, a grassroots football fan tech start up.
Róisín continue to strive towards building a more inclusive society, working with diverse communities, challenging inequalities and empowering young people.

Breakout sessions

During the day delegates attended two breakout sessions — one at 1.30pm and another at 3.15pm.

Breakout session 1 (1.30pm–2.e30pm)

1. Funding a more equitable future 

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Led by: Farid Kelekun, Impact on Urban Health (Guy's & St Thomas' Foundation), Rowena Estwick, Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation
Devolving power and developing leaders. Join Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation and others to explore more equitable ways of working, and steps foundations can take to devolve power and develop leaders.
Sharing insights and seeking audience reflections on power imbalances, partnering with Black and minoritised-led organisations, participatory grant-making, enabling community voices to shape programming, and frameworks for shifting power.
2. Matching investments to mission in practice 

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Join ACF Official Partner Cazenove with special guest appearances and case studies, to examine how Foundations can match their investments to their mission in practice.
3. Yorkshire and Humber: funder challenge and collaboration

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Led by: Kate Hainsworth, Leeds Community Foundation & GiveBradford, Jan Garrill, Two Ridings Community Foundation, Carla Marshall, Sir George Martin Trust, David Warner, Yorkshire Funders, Joe Dobson, The National Lottery Community Fund
Generating intelligence and informing action. Join Leeds Community Foundation and others for an interactive session looking at how emergency challenge informed regional funder collaboration, with learning on best practice and next steps.
4. Mapping the UK Women and Girls voluntary sector

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Led by: Louise Telford, Rosa Fund, Rebecca Gill, Rosa Fund, Annabel Durling, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Rowan Miller, The National Lottery Community Fund, Dr Chris Damm, Sheffield Hallam University, Lorna Dowrick, Sheffield Hallam University, Catherine Harris, Sheffield Hallam University
Join Rosa Fund and others to find out more about a research project which looks exactly at where across the UK women and girls’ sector funding is going, and what gaps might be emerging.
Hear how three funders; Rosa Fund, The National Lottery Community Fund & Esmee Fairbairn Foundation have come together to make it happen. 
5. Funding and co-creation

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Led by: Jessica Bridges, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch), Grace Bremner, Local Trust, David Jubb, Citizens in Power, Louisa Hrabowy, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch)
Co-creation is now best practice in arts funding. Join Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and others to look at how has this once-radical community engagement model transformed the way we fund and operate, and what lessons can be learnt. Join us to unpick philanthropy, power and the future of partnership working.
6. Understanding our legacy

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Led by: Felicity Mallam, Wates Foundation, Sufina Ahmad, John Ellerman Foundation, Beth Astridge, Philanthropy Archive, University of Kent University
Understanding our founders' aspirations to ensure relevance for the future. Join Wates Foundation and others to examine the challenges and successes in understanding and documenting a foundation's history.
Hear about the challenges and successes to understanding and documenting a foundation's history - one where living family members are involved and one where no living descendants exist. Find out how the past can inform and develop your leadership in the future.
7. Courageous leadership in the foundation space

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Led by: Cassie Robinson and Sophia Parker from Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Join Joseph Rowntree Foundation and others for a session on what types of courageous leadership we need at this time and over the next decade. This session will explore the different types of leadership roles we need - leadership of ideas and leadership of organisations. How do these different kinds of leadership might show up and what  competencies will we need to develop and resource.–



Breakout session 2 (3.15pm–4.15pm)

1. Embedding equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging

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Led by: Denise Ramsey, UnLtd, Mathu Jeyaloganathan, UnLtd, Kisha Bradley, Brightbox, Cecil Adjalo, Foundervine, Ricky Perrin, Sussex Bears
As an endowed grant-maker, UnLtd is embedding EDIB in order to develop the next generation of inclusive leaders. Social entrepreneurs will share their lived experiences of barriers to accessing grant and investment. In an interactive session, reflect on your organisation’s EDI and belonging practice, and steps you can take towards inclusive leadership.
2. Net Zero - the need for a new approach

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Led by: Ajay Johal, Ruffer
A linear approach to reducing emissions within your foundation’s investment portfolio would ‘green’ the portfolio but potentially not society. In this thought-provoking session with ACF’s Official Partner Ruffer, explore how taking a different approach could impact real world emissions in a more meaningful way.
3. What happens when leaders prioritise trust

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Led by: Stephen Fenning, Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust, Bruce Topham, Kent Community Foundation
Investing in relationship and trust building capacity can unlock huge opportunities for foundations. Join Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust and others for this case study from the Kent region, exploring what happens when leaders prioritise improving communication, understanding and accessibility.
4.Change the story, change the system 

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Led by: Jessica Bridges, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch), Nicky Hawkins, On Road Media, Eva Beresford, JJ Charitable Trusts / Climate Change Collaboration, Louisa Hooper, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch)
Narrative change and the opportunities for funders. Our deep, interconnected challenges of climate change, injustice and inequality require new global narratives and collective mindsets. Join Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and others to explore why narrative change matters, what ‘good’ looks like, and why fund.
5. Defending our civic space

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Led by: Sue Tibballs, Sheila McKechnie Foundation
Join the Sheila McKechnie Foundation to examine how the UK civic space is narrowing, with serious implications for civil society’s ability to speak up, hold to account, and drive change – ultimately, compromising missions. Funders are uniquely placed to both lead and support the push back. This session will share a new strategy, developed for funders, setting out how.
6. Giving it everything: in defence of spend down

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Led by: Christine Oliver, Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation, Tessa Durham, Gower Street Foundation, Sally Vivyan, Gower Street Foundation, Sophie Marple, Gower Street Foundation, Nick Marple, Gower Street Foundation, Sarah Ridley, Tubney Charitable Trust, Jessica Cordingly, Lankelly Chase, Amanda Ellingworth, Sir Ernest Cassel Educational Trust, Anne Sofer, Sir Ernest Cassel Educational Trust
In defence of spending down: when perpetuity feels wrong, can exiting the sector through a planned spend down demonstrate courage and leadership? What else could be done? Join Polden-Puckham Charitable Foundation and others as they share their reasoning and experience.


7. A challenge shared is a challenge halved

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Led by: Daniela Lloyd-Williams, JAC Trust, Aisling Johnston, LFT Charitable Trust, Caroline Marks, The AIM Foundation, Felicity Mallam, Wates Foundation
Are you the Director or a trustee of a family foundation? Join JAC Trust and others for a peer learning session – providing a space to reflect on practice, assets and the challenges that are unique to family foundations – sharing and learning from each other.

Having trouble seeing all breakout sessions? Click here.

ACF annual conference 2022 is kindly sponsored by:


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