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Quality is about trying to do better – better both in the services your organisation offers its users and in the way your organisation is run.

The Trusted Standard gives you a systematic and consistent way of implementing and demonstrating quality in your organisation.

The Trusted Standard is a straightforward, user-friendly and comprehensive quality standard intended to help you run your organisation more effectively and efficiently. It offers a flexible approach to quality which enables your organisation to work at its own pace.

It helps you to take a systematic look at what you do, to identify areas where you are doing well, and then decide exactly where improvements are needed. It helps you to plan, budget and allocate the necessary resources for making these improvements over a realistic time period.  Trusted Standard promotes continuous improvement through self-assessment and an externally assessed quality mark.

Being able to prove that your organisation is well run, well managed and committed to providing effective services is important for internal and external stakeholders. Furthermore, when applying for funding and tendering for contracts, your ability to demonstrate quality through the Trusted Standard offers reassurance for those funding your services and using them.

Previously known as PQASSO, Trusted Standard is regularly reviewed to ensure it is current, continues to stretch organisations and meets the needs of the voluntary sector. Hence, the 4th edition of Trusted Standard reflects the feedback from voluntary sector organisations about sector priorities.

Trusted Standard covers 11 quality areas. The first 10 quality areas address how your organisation is run and the quality of services for users. Quality area 11 is about the outcomes and impact you achieve for your service users, your organisation, its people and the wider community.

The Trusted Standard has two levels and organisations choose whether to work towards Level 1 or Level 2. Organisations initially self-assess against their chosen level which can then be followed by external accreditation. External accreditation is carried out by Trusted Standard assessors – experienced people from the voluntary and community sector who are trained and supported to carry out assessments of organisations against the Trusted Standard.

Trusted Standard Quality Areas

The Board has the skills and information it needs to achieve the organisation’s mission and uphold its values. It ensures that the organisation is governed effectively and responsibly, determining strategy and policy. It demonstrates accountability to stakeholders, reporting openly on the organisation’s performance and impact.

The organisation’s mission, values and broad aims are clearly defined. Plans focus on outcomes and impact are based on the needs and expectations of users and other stakeholders. Clear priorities and targets are set, taking into account the resources required. Progress is regularly reviewed, and plans are adjusted where needed.

Leaders inspire and motivate people to make a difference and to achieve the organisation’s vision. They provide clear direction and support, promoting a transparent, inclusive culture. Managers develop effective communication, and systems and ways of working, fostering individual strengths and initiative, and encouraging innovation.

Users are at the heart of the organisation. Service values and approaches are explicit, informing the design and delivery of services and activities. The organisation is focused on achieving planned outcomes for users, advocating on their behalf. Staff and volunteers work with users to identify and meet their diverse needs, and to review progress.

The organisation recruits the right people to achieve its mission. Staff and volunteers have the appropriate skills, knowledge and experience, know who they are accountable to, and understand their role. Managers support people, encouraging good working practices and achievement of planned results.

Opportunities for learning are seen as an essential part of individual and organisational development. People learn from their own and others’ experience. The organisation shares its learning and uses it to achieve continuous improvement. Learning and development are encouraged and resourced.


The organisation complies with the law and good practice in accounting for its money. It generates enough income to support its planned work, and to be viable and financially sustainable. It manages its money effectively and prudently, and exercises robust financial control.

Resources are managed, ensuring that there are enough to support planned activities, and are used safely, efficiently and effectively. The organisation’s information and technology, and its knowledge resources, are appropriately protected. The organisation adopts ethical and sustainable working practices, and manages resources in ways that minimise any negative impact on the environment.

The organisation engages effectively with its users and other external stakeholders, building relationships. It uses a range of media to promote its work and the interests of its users, sharing information openly about its impact in order to influence wider change.

The organisation builds good relationships with other organisations for operational and strategic benefit. It assesses and takes up appropriate opportunities to work in partnership with others to enhance effectiveness and sustainability, to influence change, and to achieve better outcomes for users.

People are supported to collect and analyse information on the organisation’s outcomes and impact and to report achievements openly and honestly. Monitoring and evaluation is built into planning, and findings are used to improve services and activities, to further benefit users and better achieve the organisation’s mission.

Levels of Achievement

Each quality area consists of two levels of achievement.  Your organisation can choose the appropriate level to suit its current needs. Your choice may be influenced by your:

  • plans for improvement and development
  • organisational culture
  • current systems and processes
  • experience of self-assessment and other quality standards
  • size and complexity of organisation
  • staff capacity and resources


Level 1

The Level 1 indicators for each Quality Area lay the foundation on which strong organisations are built. They have been developed to highlight legal obligations and to enable analysis of the basic systems and structures in place to protect the rights of your service users, employees and volunteers. When applied, Level 1 indicators ensure that that good governance and management processes are in place to achieve planned activities and to demonstrate outcomes and impact.

Level 2

Trusted Standard Level 2 builds on the Level 1 indicators which must be in place before progression to Level 2 is considered.

The Level 2 indicators for each Quality Area require your organisation to be more strategic in its approach. Level 2 indicators support the development of your longer-term detailed plans, requiring greater capacity to develop your internal processes. Application of Level 2 indicators involves collecting a wide range of monitoring information about your organisation’s activities, outcomes and longer-term impact. There is a greater focus on continuous improvement and more policies, procedures and practices will be documented.