How healthy is your charity?

And equally important – how do you know?

I talk to some CEOs and staff members of local charities who sincerely believe they run or are working for well run ‘healthy’ charities. But when pressed, they find it hard to given good reasons why.

I talk to others who have the same beliefs but are able to explain quite clearly why their charities can be judged to be healthy and well run.

The latter group can point to evidence to substantiate their beliefs whereas the former group rely on feelings, which may or may not be realistic.

One simple way of collecting evidence is to implement a quality standard.

PQASSO is the quality standard most commonly used in the Voluntary and Community Sector. It is an evidence based self assessment tool, but can be taken further and used to gain the externally verified and Charity Commission recognised PQASSO Quality Mark.

But PQASSO can also be used as a quick and dirty healthcheck.

Working through the quality standard will enable the charity to identify and built on their strengths, as well as identifying and have making improvements to their weaknesses.

PQASSO covers 12 “quality areas” that any charity or VCS organisation needs to address. They are:

  • Planning
  • Governance
  • Leadership and management
  • User-centred service
  • Managing people
  • Learning and development
  • Managing money
  • Managing resources
  • Communications and promotion
  • Working with others
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Results (Users, Staff and Volunteers, Organisation, Community)

7 Steps To Your Healthcheck

1. Get hold of the PQASSO workbook (it can be purchased from Charities Evaluation Services)

2. Use all 4 of the Results area at Level 1 (or Level 2 if you think you are ready)

3. Use others areas if you have concerns

4. Be honest. Ensure you really have the evidence (which should be consistent, accessible, recent and dated) to support your conclusions. Talk to others to gain consensus.

5. Use a spider diagram to illustrate the results (ie award yourself 4 marks for each fully met criteria, 3 for getting there etc and mark your position)

6. Identify any actions you need to take to improve – produce a dated action plan

7. Consider doing a full self assessment or even going on the achieve the Quality Mark.


Would you like advice or assistance giving your charity a quick healthcheck or a self assessment? Then please contact me.