PQASSO assurance

It is important that organisations can prove they have attained a recognised level of quality. We believe that self-assessment is essential for learning and development – but we know that external recognition can also be vital for some organisations, which is why we developed the PQASSO Quality Mark.

What is the PQASSO Quality Mark?

The PQASSO Quality Mark is the externally assessed award for PQASSO users which demonstrates achievement of the PQASSO standards. This nationally recognised award offers both users and funders/commissioners external verification of the quality and credibility of an organisation.

It remains the only sectoral quality mark that covers the work of charities and other organisations: no other assurance award addresses all the essential areas necessary for the effective management and governance of a charity or other third sector organisation.

PQASSO self-assessment and assurance are widely recognised as providing a comprehensive framework for running an effective organisation. A PQASSO-awarded organisation is guaranteed to be fit for purpose in all areas essential to commissioners.

Benefits of assurance

Achieving the PQASSO Quality Mark will give your organisation:

  • external verification of your achievement of the PQASSO standards
  • greater recognition and creditability from statutory and independent funders, users and other stakeholders
  • increased motivation for staff, trustees and volunteers
  • confirmation that your organisation has reached a recognised quality standard
  • enhanced organisational learning through the assessment process.

How to get assurance

To achieve the PQASSO Quality Mark, you will need to complete the PQASSO self-assessment first. Once you’re ready to apply for assurance, you can apply by completing our online form.

Your organisation will undergo an external assessment which involves gathering evidence, reviewing documentation and interviewing staff, board members and volunteers.

The external assessment will be carried out by PQASSO Quality Mark assessors – members of the voluntary and community sector who are specially trained and supported by NCVO to carry out assessments of organisations against the PQASSO standards.

What is the process?

The following flowchart outlines the assessment process.

PQASSO Quality Mark assessment process. All timescales are approximate and subject to negotiation between the assessor(s) and the organisation under assessment. START: Complete your PQASSO self-assessment. WEEK 1: Submit PQASSO Quality Mark application. WEEK 4: Plan timescales for your assessment. WEEK 6: Submit key documents for your desktop review. WEEK 10: Assesors visit your organisation and advise you of their findings. WEEK 12: Receive a detailed report of your assessment. If no improvment actions are required you will receive your award and logo around week 14. If improvement actions are required you will have eight weeks to implement them in order receive your award around week 22. Your award is valid for three years.


The cost of an assessment depends on:

  • the size of your organisation
  • the number of sites you operate across
  • the assurance level at which you are assessed.

These prices are based on organisations with one site or office and do not include expenses – reasonable travel and subsistence expenses for your assessor(s).

‘Full-time equivalent staff’ includes all paid staff and excludes volunteers.

Full-time equivalent members of staff

Level 1

Level 2

0 to 5



6 to 15



16 to 25



26 to 49



50 to 100



101 to 200



201 or more

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VAT will be applied to fees for organisations.

NCVO/WCVA member discount

If you are a member of NCVO or WCVA you’ll get a 10% discount off the fees.

NCVO membership offers a number of other benefits for your organisation - find out more about becoming an NCVO member.

Getting a  quote

If you operate from more than one site or office or you have more than 200 staff, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You will need to provide details on the number of staff and the number of sites you operate across.

Apply for assurance

Before completing the application, please read the terms and conditions.

Once you have submitted your application you’ll be invoiced for the assessment fee. We recommend you do not apply for assurance until you have completed your self-assessment and are ready for assessment. But there is an option on the application form to put your assessment on hold for up to 12 months if you want to apply and pay your assessment fee before you are ready.

Supporting documents

There are some common mistakes that organisations make when applying which can delay the process and cause problems further down the line. Use this helpful checklist for applicants (pdf, 160KB) to make sure you have everything ready for your assessment.

Latest (4th edition)

Level 1 assessment: 

Level 2 assessment - all the documents above, plus:

Welsh documents

Previous (3rd edition) 

Level 1 assessment:

Level 2 assessment - all the documents above, plus:

Improvement actions

If the assessors’ findings show that your organisation has not yet fully met the PQASSO standards, you will be asked to implement improvement actions.

What next?

Maintaining your award after achieving the PQASSO Quality Mark

PQASSO is about continuous improvement and the quality cycle does not stop with achievement of the PQASSO Quality Mark. We recommend that you continue self-assessing against the PQASSO indicators for the three years that your award is valid. This is the best way to ensure that there are no major gaps and that good practice is maintained. Changes in staff, volunteers, trustees, the external environment, and of course the needs of your users mean that you have to constantly assess and evaluate where you are. Some organisations maintain their PQASSO implementation group as a mechanism for checking that the organisation is still compliant. Others incorporate PQASSO within their standard structures and review systems.

Sometimes organisations decide that this is an opportunity to consider implementing PQASSO at the next level (for example, you are awarded at level 1 and now you decide to move to level 2). In the plans and processes you put in place in order to meet the new requirements, it is important to check that you are still maintaining your performance against all indicators at all previous levels.

Renewing your assurance

Approximately six months before your award expires we will get in touch with you to remind you to renew and to give you details about how to reapply.

To maintain your award and avoid a gap between the expiry of your original award and your reaccreditation, we recommend that you apply at least three months in advance of the award expiration. If your assessment progresses smoothly, this should mean that your next award is in place before the expiry of the initial one.

If you don’t wish to renew your award, your listing will be removed from our website at the end of the three-year period.

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