Korina Tsioni, Quality Mark Development Officer at WCVA, blogs about ways to ensure quality doesn’t fall off your organisation’s agenda during the COVID-19 crisis.
Quality assurance is important for voluntary sector organisations. We need to be certain that we are delivering high quality services for the people we serve, whether this is through achieving recognised quality marks or working to agreed sector standards.
Quality assurance can seem like a luxury in the middle of a crisis when organisations are struggling just to keep delivering their services, but it’s as important as ever to ensure those services meet the standards that are expected of us.
Keeping on top of your governance, management and monitoring means that you will be at a steady and secure place and better prepared to face any sudden changes in your professional environment and prove results.
Here are some ideas for keeping on top of your quality assurance during the COVID-19 crisis:
- Reach out to other organisations, share and learn
Adjusting to the new situation and demands is challenging for all of us. Throughout Wales volunteering enquiries rose dramatically while organisations had to quickly change the way they deliver services.
It is not always easy, but reaching out, sharing good experiences and learning from similar interest organisations is great practice.
Organisations have reached out to their local voluntary councils and united with new partners, in order to keep on working in a new capacity. New partnerships have emerged and many pop-up informal volunteering groups were formed locally to meet people’s needs.
Make sure you keep in touch with your local CVC, who can support you in many ways.
- Make use of technology to monitor your impact
Monitoring and recording are highly important, as this helps you identify what works well and what needs to be improved. Evidence can be used to achieve a quality mark, report back to your funders, promote your work wider to beneficiaries and partners, or apply for new funding. However, monitoring can be time consuming and may not be the priority when you are very busy dealing with a crisis!
A simple and instant way to monitor and record when possible is by using technology: to record a video, take pictures, record someone’s voice talking about their experience.
Of course you will need the participants’ consent, but people will not necessarily need to be included in footage if they do not want to. Be creative.
The pictures or videos could be of food, equipment, building, vehicles – anything to support a press release or short case study. For example, this video made by FareShare and Neath Port Talbot CVS displaying their support to their community during the pandemic.
If you are interested in making your impact measurement easier, please read this blog by our Governance and Safeguarding Manager Mair Rigby.
- Highlights of the day – take a note daily
Even if you are not quite there yet with your goals, monitoring progress is also a good way to prove to yourself, beneficiaries , partners, funders that resilience in your organization is strong and you can overcome difficulties.
Try and take a note daily for something that was your highlight of the day, even when it is work in progress. This is a good way to identify patterns, nail the concept of your aim and vision as an organization, and eventually come up with ideas of ways to show your good practice results.
Taking a note daily of something in your practice that stood out, will strengthen your commitment and increase motivation too.
- Speak with your assessor/advisor and come up with a plan
If you are in the process of working towards a quality mark or renewing one, there should be experts (your assessors or advisors) to work with you on coming up with a plan to utilize your resources and staff’s time to the maximum during the crisis.
Roles may change, timelines may change, and delivery methods may change- but still coming up with a flexible plan can keep you and your colleagues above water personally and professionally.
Lack of face to face delivery may be an opportunity for your organisation to reflect and do paperwork that did not have the time to do before. Sharing tasks and working in teams could help with motivation and support people’s mental health and wellbeing.
- Make carpark notes for areas to improve
Self-evaluation is very helpful when it is honest! During a difficult pandemic you may find the opportunity to identify the areas in your practice that have some space for improvement. Make a note of those as well, and park them for the time being. It will be handy to work on these areas when the crisis passes.
Working on your weaknesses strategically will help you improve your practice and make the work towards a quality mark much easier. Identifying the areas you lack strength could signpost you to the right partner to compliment your action, and inform your future plans in funding applications and recruitment.
Getting Started with Quality Assurance and Impact measurement
If you are voluntary organization you can use the Investing in Volunteers standard as framework to improve your practice around managing your volunteers.
If you are a charity and want to work on your governance using a holistic tool, please look at NCVO’s Trusted Charity Essentials tool online. It is a straightforward and free framework for excellent governance practice.
You can use the above as checklists or as a discussion starting point with your colleagues.
If you’d like to Improve your Impact measurement, there are lots of free resources on the Inspiring Impact website https://www.inspiringimpact.org/
If your organisation is struggling financially, emergency funding has been released by WCVA, to support the voluntary sector.
We know about the beautiful work that Is being delivered locally by collaborations and old and new partnerships, and would encourage you to apply for any funding suitable to you.
We are also focusing on supporting a diverse group of organisations, so please note that we are willing to see more BME and domestic abuse organisations applying for the funding too.
If things are not working for you and the funding cannot meet your needs- WCVA and local CVCs will also be happy to hear from you and will try to help the best they can. We want to make a bigger difference together!
Korina works on a Quality Assurance project for WCVA which aims to raise awareness about quality assurance in our sector in Wales, and research the sector’s preferences and needs. Happy to provide information on the project and specifically about Trusted Charity and Investing in Volunteers.