Best of 2020 according to the ACEVO team

We are a small team here at ACEVO, which means everyone gets involved with events, content, day to day errands and member support. But as 2020 comes to a close (finally, may we say?), some of the staff look back and choose their highlights of the year.

Melanie Jeanton, membership administrator

“Because we are so ambitious, we hosted the best festival of the year with #ACEVOFest setting the bar for digital conferences. Driven by our members’ needs we launched the long-awaited ACEVO Community, which really gave our members from all over the country a new way to connect. I am particularly proud of how we responded to the anti-racism work of Barnardos and that we stood together to champion the honest conversations about race which should be taking place in homes, at work and everywhere.”

Heloisa Righetto, communications officer

“Although I miss the good old days of going to the office, grabbing a mid-morning coffee at Pret with Melanie and wandering around Leadenhall Market during my lunch break, one positive thing that happened as a result of having to work from home was the digital taskforce group. A few of the ACEVO staff got together and met weekly to create a digital plan and come up with straightforward ideas to make life easier for members and all the people who visit our website and follow us on social media. From the many things this group accomplished, my two highlights are the videos that explain each section of the website and the voice narration for blogs.”

Natalie Westerman, membership and marketing manager

“My highlight of this year was #ACEVOFest. It was great to see how engaged members were with the content and format. It was a pretty daunting task to move our one-day conference to a five-day digital event, but it was fantastic to see the interaction between delegates throughout the week. We know it’s hard with a face to face event to choose which sessions to attend, so the fact that most sessions are still available to watch for six months gives real value for money.

I was also pleased that we could launch the Next Step Leadership programme in July. It was great to work with Jenny Berry (director of leadership and governance) on this, and the funding she secured for the programme meant delegates only had to contribute £449, for a programme valued at £1500! We were meant to launch in April but due to the travel restrictions around Covid, we re-worked the programme to go fully digital and launched in July. It’s great to have a programme for experienced CEOs wishing to continue their development that can run alongside the New & Emerging Leaders programme for aspiring and new CEOs.”

Kristiana Wrixon, head of policy and comms

“This year has been unbelievably challenging for everyone and I am so proud of everything the team has achieved for members. If I had to choose one project it would be the ‘Home Truths’ report, a year-long project we worked on with Voice4Change England. One of the keys aims of the work was to centre the voices and experiences of Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic people working and volunteering in the charity sector in discussions about diversity, equity and inclusion and I am really pleased with the response and engagement with the work from members.

The ACEVO team is also one of the best parts of the job and certainly has been one of the best parts of this year. Without their humour, hard work, honesty and compassion everything would have been so much harder so a big thank you to all my amazing colleagues.”

Jennifer Sowerby, data and digital lead

“For me, the highlight of a tough year has been the launch of ACEVO Community. We had been planning to launch an online space for our members to connect with and support one another for some time but the pandemic caused us to rethink our priorities. As we were no longer able to provide face to face member meetings for networking, the need for a digital alternative became top of the agenda and I’m proud that we were able to get a basic version of the community launched in just over three weeks.

The response and uptake from ACEVO members has been brilliant and I hope that we have been able to provide charity leaders with a safe space to ask questions and support one another at such a challenging time.”

Catherine Macrae, head of finance and operations

“Reflecting back, one of my highlights was in January this year when we migrated to Office 365. The initial improvement in our working IT was great, but three months later it proved essential as we entered the first lockdown and the team moved to work from home. Our transition from office to home-based was almost seamless and the team was able to continue delivering for our members.

My other highlight was definitely #ACEVOFest. This reconnected me to members in a way which has become more difficult while working remotely. To experience their challenges and aspirations and feel their engagement in the sessions first hand was a positive reminder of why we need to stay true to our values of being member-driven, connected, ambitious and honest.”   

Vicky Browning, chief executive

“One of the best outcomes of the pandemic for ACEVO was the team’s ability to turn on a sixpence and transform all of our face-to-face services for members into online engagement, in what seemed like the twinkling of an eye. But we didn’t just stop at digitising existing services – in April, more than eight months ahead of schedule, we launched the ACEVO Community, our online hub for members to post questions, offer solutions and directly support each other.

Received wisdom says you should launch this sort of Community gradually, building up and seeding loads of content. But the Community flew from day one. We now have 575 members actively engaged in posting, reading and sharing. I think its impact is best demonstrated by this comment from ACEVO member Sara Aspley, CEO of Stratford Upon Avon Town Trust: “The last months have been such a roller coaster and when working from home I have really valued the ACEVO website and the Community hub. On low days, even when I can’t put my finger on what’s wrong I always seem to find something within the ACEVO Community that picks me up again.”

Marlene Cursoux, corporate partnership executive

“Having joined ACEVO in January this year, I experienced the transition from a face-to-face working environment into remote working in March. In addition to ACEVO’s team proactivity, I was very impressed by how ACEVO’s corporate partners have stepped up in offering support to our members either through exclusive webinars, dedicated advice and support lines as well as tailored content, among others.

The ACEVO Jobs platform was also a great way to support our members and senior leaders in the charity sector in helping them recruit and/or find their next opportunity during these uncertain times.

Finally, in November, I had the opportunity to work with the #ACEVOFest sponsors who were key supporters of the event. This week-long event reflected of the ambition and the support offered by ACEVO to its members and again, it was very inspiring to see how the team at ACEVO and corporates worked hand in hand to support senior leaders in the charity sector.”

Tom Andrews, head of member support

“My highlight is connecting with members. My role involves talking to – and more importantly listening to – members. This might be about anything from starting a role to leaving a role, preparing for a meeting to reflecting on a difficult conversation, from finding a mentor to finding a moment to stop and breathe.  It also includes speaking with CEOs that are having a tough time, providing a space for them to be heard and supported. I have huge respect for the courage and humanity of leaders facing these challenging situations.

The other things to mention are naturally #ACEVOFest – particularly being excited by Geoff Mulgan’s thoughts around radical and creative ideas with a streak of optimism, and energised and challenged by the indomitable Vu Le – and the friendly bunch of attendees at the regular Friday Review sessions who have been a pleasure to connect with.”

Narrated by a member of the ACEVO staff

Image by rawpixel.com

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