Volunteer Centre Quality Accreditation

vcqa logoVolunteer Centre Quality Accreditation (VCQA) is the quality mark for Volunteer Centres (and other organisations providing Volunteer Centre functions). Accreditation provides assurance to commissioners and funders, as well as members of the public and volunteer involving organisations, that the Volunteer Centre is providing a high quality and effective service. Established in 2001, the VCQA Standard has been achieved by over 90% of Volunteer Centres. It is central to NCVO’s strategy for volunteering.

VCQA was originally designed by practitioners working in what was the National Association of Volunteer Bureaux, and the standard has always been informed by those working in the field. Wave 4 of the quality mark, being rolled out from 2014, is the result of a review involving a working group comprising representatives from a range of stakeholders, consultation across the Volunteer Centre Network and a formal evaluation carried out by the Institute for Volunteering Research.

The Standard covers the five core functions of a Volunteer Centre’s work:

  • Strategic Development of Volunteering
  • Good Practice Development
  • Developing Volunteering Opportunities
  • Voice of Volunteering
  • Brokerage

It is widely recognised by commissioners and funders.

Volunteer Centres who achieve the Standard can enjoy many benefits from enhanced credibility and access to funding and other opportunities, to improved service delivery and stronger partnerships. All Volunteer Centres who achieve the Standard automatically become members of the Achievers Club which gives access to 'new business' development opportunities and additional resources.

Volunteer Centres of any configuration – independent or hosted/integrated, large or small, rural or urban – can achieve accreditation; groups of Volunteer Centres working in partnership can even go through the process together. Accreditation lasts for three years.

The assessment process comprises:

  • attending a briefing workshop
  • completing a self-assessment and development plan
  • submitting a portfolio of evidence online.

The evidence is then considered by an independent assessor who makes a recommendation as to whether or not the Volunteer Centre meets the standard. All assessor reports are then considered by a standardisation panel before ratification.

The standard

The standard covers the five core functions of a Volunteer Centre. Each function Volunteer Centres/partnerships must demonstrate that their activities in that area achieve the desired outcome.

1. Strategic development of volunteering

Through the activity of the Volunteer Centre or partnership and its engagement with local networks and decision makers there is a positive environment in which volunteering is flourishing.

2. Good practice development

Through the activity of the Volunteer Centre or partnership, organisations from all sectors (involving or providing volunteers) should improve or attain positive consistency in their volunteering programmes.

3. Developing volunteering opportunities

The activity of the centre or partnership must increase and improve the quantity, quality, and diversity of volunteering locally.

4. Voice of volunteering

Through the Volunteer Centre’s or partnership's activities there is an increased awareness of the issues impacting on volunteering.

5. Brokerage

Through the Volunteer Centre’s or partnership’s activities the general public and all sectors are better informed about and have access to an effective and efficient brokerage service.

In order for Volunteer Centres/partnerships to demonstrate that they are achieving these outcomes they must provide evidence that they are undertaking specific activities and the impact of those activities.

Considering applying for accreditation?

We are still accepting applications for Wave 4 Volunteer Centre Quality Accreditation and would be pleased to assist organisations considering making such an application. Please feel free to contact us for help or advice.


National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) Society Building, 8 All Saints Street, London N1 9RL

John Carlin, Volunteer Centre Support Manager

Direct line: 020 7520 2443

Mobile: 07944 174 327

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Ingrid Shiel, Projects and Events Assistant

Direct line: 020 7520 2452

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