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Volunteer Centre Quality Accreditation

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What is VCQA?

Volunteer 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. 

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.

VCQA update

Following a strategic review, NCVO has taken the difficult decision to stop providing VCQA. We are delighted to announce that we will transfer ownership rights of VCQA to the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA) from 1 January 2022.

If you hold a VCQA

NCVO has already extended current VCQA holders’ accreditation statuses to March 2022. Following the transfer of VCQA, NAVCA (as awarding body) will continue to honour this extension period, to allow sufficient time to undertake the renewal process as part of a ‘staggered’ transition across to NAVCA ownership.

We have contacted all current VCQA holders to update them about this extension. If you haven’t heard from us, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

VCQA in 2022 and beyond

You may be aware of, or have been involved in, NAVCA’s engagement programme that ran throughout the summer of 2021. During this programme, VCQA holders were consulted on ways to refresh and overhaul the VCQA .

Feedback showed there is scope for both a content refresh – to better reflect current volunteer centre practice – and an opportunity to streamline the assessment process for gaining accreditation. The feedback also highlighted a need to build in opportunities for learning and development as part of the VCQA renewal pathway.

Work is currently underway to complete a first draft of the refreshed VCQA, alongside a new assessment process. NAVCA seeks to pilot the refreshed VCQA from January 2022, so it can test and refine the accreditation before re-launching it in March 2022.

NAVCA encourages current VCQA holders to take part in this pilot. Please contact NAVCA’s membership department at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register your interest.

VCQA assessors

NAVCA is keen to recruit VCQA assessors from organisations that currently hold accreditation, ensuring it draws resource and expertise from local infrastructure organisations that operate a volunteer centre function.

If you have previous experience as a VCQA assessor, or are interested in exploring a refreshed assessment training opportunity as part of the January 2022 pilot, please contact NAVCA’s membership department at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register your interest.

More about 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.

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