Quality First is a simple tool that uses a workbook to run through nine quality areas that can help an organisation improve its performance. It is aimed at small organisations run solely by volunteers or just one or two paid staff.


Quality First supports groups that wish to be actively involved in developing their communities without necessarily becoming employees and managers of funded organisations. It offers small organisations an opportunity to focus on quality assurance and to build on their confidence about the quality and effectiveness of their activities.

Organisations using Quality First work through the Quality First Workbook, which suggests that an organisation should make procedures explicit (say what you do), ensure that those procedures are carried out (do what you say) and check their effectiveness by monitoring and reviewing performance. Improvements in quality should be seen as a result.

The nine quality areas in Quality First are:

  1. Stating our purpose
  2. Our standards and values
  3. Managing it all
  4. Involving our community
  5. Working together as volunteers
  6. Equality and fairness
  7. Reviewing our work
  8. Financial management
  9. Communicating effectively

Each quality area has two levels:

  • Level 1 – the basic standards that even the smallest organisation should address.
  • Level 2 – for organisations that have met Level 1 and have done so for at least a year.

When an organisation has completed self-assessments for all nine quality areas, it fills out an overall assessment form to provide an overview and ideas for action to meet the commitment to the code of practice in these areas. The organisation can decide which quality areas to work on.

Development, ownership and support

Quality First was written by Tony Farley in partnership with Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC). BVSC can be contacted to obtain the workbook and offer support.

Further sources of information

Birmingham Voluntary Service Council   www.bvsc.org

Training Programme
For local authorities

We offer group online training and facilitate workshops, primarily for local authorities. Topics currently include Theory of Change, commissioning for outcomes, co-production, and more.

And for other organisations…

You might want to join our open training on Theory of Change or measuring social impact.

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by @nefconsulting