A conversation with ACF's volunteer network convenors

21 November 2023

Trevor Horsewood, ACF’s new Network development manager, asks network convenors Hannah Howard and Louise Telford about their work, of the benefits of being part of the ACF network community, and why they would encourage people to think about becoming a volunteer convenor. You can find out more about our current network convenor opportunities here.

Networks provide members with an opportunity to connect with colleagues, discuss a variety of topics and share best practice and learning. The Network development manager role works closely with the convenors of our 15 member-led networks on an exciting annual programme of events. As I am new to ACF and the foundation sector I was keen to find out more from our convenors about their work as we look at the programme for 2024 and bringing new convenors on board.

Hannah Howard, Corporate foundations network

I co-convene ACF’s Corporate foundations network and I’m Head of OVO Foundation - OVO’s charity. Convening the network has been brilliant for exchanging ideas, learning with my peers and closer examination of the particular dynamics within and surrounding corporate foundations. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ so it’s fascinating.

Being a co-convenor involves scoping out the big questions that colleagues across other corporate foundations will be grappling with. Once we have a sense of the topics that could be relevant and helpful, we identify speakers who will offer interesting perspectives - and pull it all together for a meeting! We recently organised a session on approaches to participatory grant-making, which sparked further discussion on how corporate foundations might apply the lessons learned. It’s important to allow ample time in the agenda to draw on the experience of meeting attendees and encourage sharing across the network too.

I really enjoy listening to network members and finding out what they are interested in; it’s definitely enabled me to spot trends. Quite often the issue that someone is stumped on will be what another member of the network has just overcome.

I’d 100% recommend the opportunity of being a co-convener of an ACF network, especially if you’re keen to play a role in the wider grant-making ecosystem - enabling learning and building those connections with and between others is extremely satisfying.

Louise Telford, Violence against women and girls network

I’m one of two convenors of the ACF Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Network. I work as joint Head of Grants for Rosa, the only UK-wide funder of the women and girls’ sector. I’m home based and part of a small team at Rosa. Convening the VAWG network gives me a valuable opportunity to not only meet, but also to work with colleagues doing similar work in other organisations. I find the network a great way to share and learn from colleagues in the funding world and those working in the VAWG sector.

Convenors of ACF networks usually work with one other person. This means that ideas and work can be shared! Jobs I take on include identifying and organising speakers for events and chairing meetings and networking sessions. Sometimes I’m asked to meet with other organisations that want to share information with ACF. Recently, I led on the delivery of a research project that emerged from the VAWG network, which mapped the UK women and girls sector and evidenced the lack of funding going to it, which is something Rosa exists to address.

I wanted to increase my network and being a convenor has really helped me to do this. I also think it’s important that small funders voices are represented in these types of fora, as small funders make up an important part of the funding sector.

Being a convenor is interesting and thought provoking. I value the relationships I’ve built with all my colleagues and the fantastic convenors I’ve worked with.

Find out more about our network convenor opportunities here.

ACF member networks

All staff working in an ACF member organisation are welcome to attend any number of network meetings throughout the year, and all online meetings are free of charge. Find out more about our member-led networks and how to get involved here.