Around 200 people came together on Wednesday 28 June for the launch of the Community And Voluntary Organisation Evaluation Toolkit (CAVEAT). CAVEAT is a new, free, easy-to-use, interactive, online resource developed by a team of researchers from across Kent, Surrey and Sussex, to help voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations demonstrate the impact they and their volunteers make.

The toolkit has been specifically created to help organisations collect and record data and information, allowing them to measure outcomes and demonstrate impact, while at the same time offering guidance on the many ways that information can be collected and presented. This is particularly useful when an organisation is looking to secure on-going and new funding; but also, for quality improvement. It is also a helpful resource for funding bodies or service commissioners.

Funded through the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS), the toolkit, is primarily intended for use by organisations that work with older people, however, much of the content will be useful to any VCSE organisation providing services to other groups.

It has been co-developed by researchers from the Centre for Health Services Studies at the University of Kent; Brighton and Sussex Medical School; and the University of Surrey, with support from voluntary organisations, service commissioners and members of the public from across the region.

The tool was developed following findings from an earlier study undertaken in the early stages of the pandemic - the COV-VOL research project. This study looked at community-based volunteering in response to COVID-19. The findings revealed how many VCSE organisations played an important role in supporting the health and wellbeing of older people self-isolating through the services they provided, such as on-line social activities or befriending. However, many expressed concerns over future sustainability and the lack of knowledge, time and resource needed to demonstrate the impact of their work.

At the heart of the toolkit is the CAVEAT outcomes model, that not only recognises and addresses outcomes for those receiving services, but also outcome for volunteers, the organisation and also the wider health and social care system.

Dr Julie MacInnes, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Kent, and Principal Investigator for the CAVEAT study said:

"Voluntary sector organisations are so important, and yet, many are concerned with sustainability and the on-going challenges of securing long term funding. So, in response, we developed this toolkit, that we hope will support them in valuable work they do and help build capacity for evaluation within the sector."

Jenny Monkhouse, Research Assistant at the University of Kent, said:

"The online CAVEAT outcomes model has been designed to address the resource constraints commonly faced by organisations. We have strived to provide practical solutions that streamline the evaluation process and empower organisations, of all sizes, to effectively measure and demonstrate the impact of their services, to showcase their contributions and generate meaningful change within the communities they serve.

"Our toolkit has been designed as a user-friendly platform for organisations to align their services with outcomes that reflect their goals. It offers a diverse range of tools, including validated measures and research methods, to help organisations select the most appropriate way to collect data and create customised outcome frameworks."

Visit and register for the CAVEAT Toolkit here.

For a brief guide on how to use the Toolkit, visit the CAVEAT Toolkit video here.

Visit the CAVEAT project website here.

For more information on the development of the toolkit please see the project summary here.

For technical queries, or if you have ideas for the future development of CAVEAT, please email the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at Kent University.

If you have any further questions about the toolkit and how it might be used in practice, or would like to feedback and share your experience, then please get in touch with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. from Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network.


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