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supporting voluntary organisations that work with offenders and their families

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Evaluating the impact made by volunteers

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Clinks have developed a set of evaluation tools for volunteering projects run by VCSE organisations working around the Criminal Justice System.

These tools adapt sections of the Volunteering Impact Assessment Toolkit (VIAT), which is produced by the Institute for Volunteering Research, research wing of Volunteering England. The original VIAT is intended for use by all kinds of volunteer-involving organisations in all sectors of work. Clinks have adapted those generic tools specifically for use by organisations that work with offenders and their families.

Why make a sector-specific adaptation?

Volunteering plays a particularly important part in the criminal justice system. VCSE organisations use volunteers in a hugely diverse range of roles. In spite of this diversity, they are likely to have common concerns and outcomes, and to find it helpful to have specifically focussed measures.

How we adapted the Volunteering Impact Assessment Toolkit

Clinks have therefore adapted and added to the resources in the original toolkit, creating a set of sector-specific questions, which can be used as questionnaires or in focus groups and interviews. These questions can be used alongside (or instead of) those in the original VIAT.

We have also created a set of analysis spreadsheets intended to help with entering, analysing and presenting the quantitative and qualitative data gathered using these tools.

All of the resources are intended to be used flexibly; you do not need to use the questions exactly as they have been written, and you are free to adapt and alter the questions according to your needs. We would like you to share any changes you do make with Clinks, so that when we see innovative and useful adaptations of our work, good practice can be shared with other organisations in the sector.


  • Download the toolkit here.

Additional resources

Clinks worked with four partner organisations to design and pilot these tools. A publication summarising what we learned from this work can be found here.

The Volunteering Impact Assessment Toolkit (now in its second edition, 2010) provides an introduction on why and how to use the toolkit and sets out the steps for undertaking an assessment.  It gives guidance on which tools to use, and case studies from organisations that have carried out a volunteering impact assessment. The toolkit is published by Volunteering England (8 All Saints Street, London N1 9RL). For further details, and to purchase a VIAT, please click here to visit the Volunteering England website.