Tools: Introduction

This section will help you to learn more about the tools and systems that help you to prove and improve your organisation’s quality and impact.

What can I find in this section?

In this section you will find a list of more than 20 well-known approaches to proving and improving. Investigate these summaries to learn more about any method that is of interest to you or that may be useful to your organisation.

In order to choose an approach that is most relevant to your needs you must know what you are seeking to accomplish. If you are new to Tools, it may be helpful to visit Get Started and Measuring Impact first. You can also visit the Library for further sources of information on tools, updates and new developments. If you want to go straight into looking for tools, you can start by using the Tools Charts.

The Tool Decider Chart: choosing the right tool for your organisation followed by the Tool Comparison Chart: comparing proving & improving approaches allow you to see all the tools at a glance. You will find them organised into tools for measuring social impact, quality systems and strategic management. You can use these charts for an overview of which tools may be most appropriate.

What does each Tool Summary address?

  • Primary purpose highlights the key features of the tool – what it does and how an organisation engages with it.
  • The Summary provides further details of how the tool is designed, and guidance on the practical process of using the tool.
  • The Potential benefits gives an indication of the advantages of using the tool and what it can do for an organisation.
  • The Potential limitations provides an indication of some of the areas that the tool is less well suited for or what it doesn’t cover.
  • Who can use the tool serves as a guide to what sort of organisation or individual the tool is most suited to.
  • What resources are needed. This section is broken up into Leadership, Proficiencies or skills, Staff time and Courses, support and information.
  • Development, ownership and support tells you who has created the tool or method, who owns it and who provides support or assistance with its use.
  • Where they exist, third sector examples are given. Where possible you’ll hear from organisations that have used the tool or contributed to its piloting and development. In some cases, examples of other types of organisations are given. These are often just an indicative sample of organisations.
  • Each tool summary also signposts you to further sources of information where you can find out more. This normally features the organisation that promotes the tool and may also contain other relevant tool summaries and useful links.

What to bear in mind when using a summary

  • While these pages are not an exhaustive catalogue of all the possible tools and resources available, they do introduce some of the major methods you may have heard of or which may be used within the social enterprise, corporate or voluntary sector. It can’t provide you with everything but will give you a basic understanding of the methods available, their benefits, what is involved, and how you can learn more.
  • The summaries included provide a general indication – not hard and fast rules – about the relative merits of each tool, what it does and does not intend to do, and the resources required to use the method.
  • Context is crucial. Proving and improving in any form needs to be embedded into an organisation in order for it to have the most benefit: Adapt or modify a tool or approach to fit into existing practices and structures.
  • Working with other organisations can yield dividends. Experience shows that working together can enable organisations to support one another through the process and learn from each other’s stumbling blocks and successes.


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