Focus on quality: Evidence

This month, we’re considering the role of evidence, and why your organisation needs it. If you’re working through PQASSO, you have to provide evidence to prove your competencies, but we’re going to step back and take look at what evidence means for your organisation in other areas.

When you think of the word ‘evidence’, you probably don’t frame it in the context of essential reports, submissions, filings and the myriad of other ‘bits of paper’ that pass across your desk on a regular basis. But stop to think for a few minutes on some of these – say annual accounts or company returns – and what you notice is they provide ‘evidence’ to funders, stakeholders, regulatory authorities that here is an organisation that has been scrutinised.

I produce reports, data, accounts, returns – isn’t that just work?

Yes, it is, but consider that in producing these and a range of others you have provided evidence that you and your team are professional, organised, accountable and potentially an excellent partner for a range of stakeholders, funders and others.

  • Annual accounts can be evidence of a strong, sustainable organisation.
  • Board minutes can be evidence of a well-run organisation which considers elements of risk, health and safety and sustainability.
  • Evaluations and feedback from clients can be evidence of a successful project, with quantified outcomes for funding purposes
  • Up-to-date policies, training records and appraisal notes can be evidence of an organised organisation that looks after its people

So a good portion of your regular workload involves proving with evidence that there is a well-managed, consistent, professional organisation.

But I also have a charity to run

Life in any charity or similar organisation revolves around a cycle of applying for project grants/commissioned work, carrying out the work, and then having to report back to commissioners/funders on outcomes, impacts, achievements against targets, roles created and a host of other assorted information, data and statistics. The challenge, especially for smaller charities and organisations, is to be able to provide the required evidence in a timely manner, and in the format demanded. Unfortunately, there is no set standard or format for reports; each funder/commissioner can and does require reporting in their own format.

This requirement for providing monitoring and evaluation can challenge the resources of an organisation, irrespective of size. There can be issues around time, staff resource, IT resource or just not having effective systems in place to be able to record and evaluate the outcomes of a project, thus increasing the administrative workload of an already pressed team.

Going through a process like PQASSO means stepping back, taking a systematic look at what your organisation does and identifying areas for improvement. By improving systems and resource management, organisations are better positioned to provide the evidence that their work has impact, and that can only assist in ensuring future opportunities and sustainability.

To find out more about PQASSO and the PQASSO Quality Mark visit our web pages or email pqasso@ncvo.org.uk.

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Nadeem Razvi Nadeem is the PQASSO programme manager at NCVO; his main focus is helping organisations achieve and maximise their potential by applying effective quality assurance. Nadeem has worked in the charity sector for over 10 years.

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