Frequently Asked Questions

Register Now Then simply log on and start using it

The Charity Excellence CIO online toolkit, uses 8 checklists to enable you to assess any area of activity in 30 mins, to improve your trustee governance, management and fundraising effectiveness.

It requires no IT or management skills, or charity experience to use, works for any charity, even the smallest and it’s completely free.  

"asks questions that make you think, .....and, crucially, provides resources to support the charity's continued drive for excellence. I recommend it to all charities".  The Bumblebee Conservation Trust


Charity Sector “Big Data” Is Already Here

User input is anonymously aggregated into its Sector Data Store, which enables every aspect of performance to be analysed in-depth, in real-time and historically. The data store already has 0.25 million scored assessment statements . Big Data for the charity sector – a growing, consistently collected and objective data set that covers every area of activity.

The CEF tracks 500+ metrics, of which 130+ are at red or amber (May 2022), offering us the opportunity to target our limited resources to maximum effect.  Here's an example of how that can be used. 

From the outset of the crisis in March 2020, Covid statements and resources were created and continuously updated. This enabled CEF charities to easily identify key priorities, then access the specific resources and support they needed. The data store tracked how well they were responding and identified problem areas, so that new toolkits and resources could be uploaded, enabling them to respond quickly and effectively to the rapidly escalating crisis.  The initial 5 toolkits and Covid funder list were accessed more than 38,000 times.

“Undoubtedly, we would not still be here without this brilliant resource.  For smaller charities you are an absolute lifeline”.

Federation of Disability Sport Organisations


But, That’s Just The Start

There are already a number of organisations that work at sector level and seek to inluence Government, so there'd be no value in duplicating that.  Instead, we'll remain very small and act as an enabler for both them and Government by providing access to our data. 

The strategic phase of development has launched and will see the creation of not 1, but up to 100 CEF platforms, owned by large and groups of charities, grant makers and sector leads, such as hospices and homeless charities. There is an associated research functionality.  The first 2 pilots went live at the end of 2021. 

This will give ownership of the CEF and its data to those best placed to use it.  CEF owners will be able to track their own impact, inform policy making, training provision and support. It can also be used to test the impact of issues and initiatives, influence government, for research and to spot emerging trends, opportunities and problems. This will enable our limited resources to be deployed to maximum effect and the sector to respond to problems rather than reading about these in the Media.

But we can do better than that.  I've been having some very interesting conversations with experts in AI predictive analytics. That's not particularly interesting, but what it can do is.  Effectively, not just tracking every aspect of activity in real time and in-depth, but allying our existing data set and scenario work, with approparite libraries, and using this to predict what may happen.  That would take time and funding, but offers the potential to revolutionise strategic decision making within the sector.  

How Much Will That Cost?

Charity Excellence is web based, fully scalable at very low cost and, with ownership distributed across the sector, the charity itself will remain very small. Project running costs are £170k pa. to be funded by a small contribution by very large group users, sponsorship, advertising and other income. That will generate a surplus of £80k pa, to be used to fund further strategic development, such as our AI plans, digital shareholders and fit-to-practice qualification and accreditation. Owned and funded by the sector and free to any charity that needs it.


Increasing Your Impact The dashboard Impact score reports how effectively you are maximising the impact you could have and identifies opportunities to achieve even more. 

All was really thought out well, massive impact. 

Increasing Your Funding The system’s Big Data shows that charities report managing fundraising to be their weakest performing of the 21 dashboard results - a huge missed opportunity.   Assess your fundraising online in 30 minutes, with access to all the fundraising resources, including its 50+ downloadable funder lists.  Plus, its unique funding Finder database links you to 100s of other free funder databases and online funder lists, giving you click through to a huge range of funders; more than any other system. But, it does more than that.  Run ‘tax reliefs’ in the query system to find all those you’re not claiming (yet) and the CEF also links you to 100s of organisations that provide free goods and pro bono services. 

An incredibly useful tool to broaden our search for funders during these challenging times. ...having a free resource like this available to us is a game changer.

Providing Assurance Even the smallest charity carries out a whole range of activities and we’re subject to a wide range of laws and regulations. You can’t be an expert in everything, but you don’t need to be, because the CEF enables you to quickly assess every area. It also assesses how well you keep beneficiaries, staff and volunteers safe from harm. Not only safeguarding, but also H&SW, data protection, discrimination and bullying.

CEF is a brilliant "everything in one place" help, for charity, their trustees, staff and volunteers, whether you need 'beginners level' or 'advanced'. 



Yes – it creates a unique set of questionnaires based on the individual needs of each user, including micro-charities, CICs and schools, and requires no expertise or training to use

Thought provoking and superb resources. Sunnyside Community


The 8 questionnaires enable you to assess every area of activity.  These are strategy, governance, income generation, risk, people, operations, finance & resources and communications.  These enable you to ask and answer all the questions you need to, including those you may not know about.

"The questionnaire identified issues I had never even considered”. Endcliffe Playgroup

Rate each questionnaire statement using a simple 5 star rating, then click next.  That’s all you have to do. You can health check your whole charity in half-a-day.

'The questions were very clear and helpful to understand the gaps and areas where we need to concentrate more’. MumsAid

Criteria 1 star 5 star
Achievement Poor, or not at all We meet all aspects of the statement
Importance Of little, or no importance Critical, or extremely important


Jargon free descriptions of all aspects of performance – the resources available, activities undertaken, what these produce, the outcomes delivered, the impact created, and the overarching management and planning systems. 

Questions were very clear and easy to understand’  Justice is Now

How Do Statements Assess Critical People Factors?

We have very few resources, but one huge asset – our people, and they are the key to driving improved performance. It assess key issues, such as leadership, innovation, wellbeing, culture and decision making, by taking into account not only what is done, but who does it, how well, their capacity and expertise, and how motivated they are in doing so.

How Many Statements Are In Each Questionnaire?

Usually between 10 and 40, depending on the questionnaire, and your charity’s size, sector, where it operates and the activities it undertakes.



How Do I Use It?

There are 3 top-level dials, with 21 key areas of activity analysed in the tables below. Results are colour coded, so you can see at a glance where there is most scope to achieve more. Click any number to run a detailed report and access the huge resource base - it’s no more than 2 clicks to everything.

"The most concise yet simplistic Business Intelligence dashboard for Board and Charity leaders. Indispensable!"  Bike for Good

What Do The 3 Tables Assess?

The Governance & Leadership table displays the Charity Governance Code section headings, but the analysis works for any governance code. 

The Questionnaires table displays the results of 7 questionnaires. The income questionnaire results are in the Critical Health Check table.

The Critical Health Check enables you to easily identify any critical issues, so you can respond quickly to safeguard your charity. You can also use this to provide assurance to funders and others that your charity is well run. 

What Is Quality Management Reporting?

At the bottom of your dashboard, this shows your progress towards achieving the Charity Excellence Quality Mark.


The system uses what you tell it to convert your results into your priorities for action, using a traffic light system.

Category What it means
Must Do Significant opportunity to achieve more
Should Do Opportunity to achieve more
Could Do Some opportunity
Don’t Do Little, if any opportunity


What are the benefits?

It demonstrates to funders and other stakeholders your commitment to excellence, provides assurance to trustees and recognition to your staff and volunteers for achieving this.

I’m delighted that we’ve gained the Quality Mark. It provides a structured but easily accessible way to review operations, locate gaps in operational excellence and, most importantly, be the best we can be for those that we support”. Herefordshire Mind

How Does It Work?

Once you have scored all 8 questionnaires, with a scoring rating of at least ‘Pass’, the QM will be displayed on your dashboard and you will be sent the QM logo. 

If your rating isn’t Pass (green indicator), rescore the questionnaire. Each assessment statement looks at an issue from several perspectives. Not do we have it, but is it working as well as it could be? We all tend to make assumptions (self-included), but if you don’t meet all of a statement’s criteria, or aren’t sure you do, it’s not a 5.  

You must score each questionnaire within the last 12 months to retain the QM. The QM reporting displays the date by which each questionnaire next needs to be scored and traffic light indicators will warn you, when you need to do so. 

If you don't, the system will automatically remove your quality mark. To requalify, rescore the relevant questionnaires.  

How Does It compare To Other Quality Marks?

It's free, it’s also automated, so you there’s no extra workload to achieve it and you're assessed using a framework created to meet your specific needs, not the normal one size fits all. Moreover, the assessment is ongoing, not once every few years, so funders and others can have confidence in it.  

“We worked through the questionnaires ourselves and achieved the Quality Mark for DSC (we're so proud!), so what are you waiting for?”  The Directory of Social Change


How Does It work?

As you score questionnaires, the CEF will automatically assess you using its Diversity Excellence Standard in a range of areas, from culture, to procedures, targets and outcomes, across your charity. Your results are reported on your dashboard. Click ‘Diversity’ to access your detailed results.

This is an amazing tool. 1000 out of 10. Race On The Agenda  


The query system makes answering difficult questions easy.  For example, ‘Tax Relief’ to find out what you’re not claiming (yet), ‘Funding Lists’ to find new funders, or to improve your ‘Website’, ‘Wellbeing’ or ‘Innovation’

It also saves you time and workload by enabling you to carry out management checks, respond to queries and identify opportunities, or issues, before these become problems. 

You can select multiple criteria, from the 100 available, including groups of people.  This short video (3 mins) shows you how it works. 

"Working through each section provided a great opportunity to think through what we have done and what extra we could do and, with the resources there, made this process really worthwhile". RUTS


The ‘Export’ function saves time and reduces workload, by enabling you to download reports as action plans, for meetings or planning, or create reports for the Board, or others.

"Clear and logical approach that focuses us on what we are doing well and what we need to improve. The links to source material are great". Watford Sheltered Workshop Ltd


So user friendly and scope and clarity of questions were highly relevant. Access to supporting guidance and information was superb and thank you! Behind Every Kick

The CEF acts as an information hub that taps into and promotes the huge collective expertise of the sector.

It uses 1000s of resource links to connect you to organisations providing an enormous range of free guides, checklists, tools, templates and other resources. It also connects you to 100s of great organisations that provide everything from pro bono consultancy, mentoring, marketing and legal support to office accommodation, trustee recruitment, IT support and software; all free. There are so many resources and so much help available that it finds the ones you need for you.

The Funding Finder database works in the same way, by connecting you to 400+ other free funding databases and online funder lists , enabling you to click through to 100k+ funders globally.

"Fantastic resources." Anam Cara Fasgadh


Registering and Set-up

  • On trying to register - my organisation already exists. Someone has already registered your organisation.  They can add you to the account using the ‘Additional Users’ link on the left of their screen.  If you can't find out who it is, contact me.
  • The system won't accept my name. It can't accept any non-alphabetic characters or spaces, remove these. 
  • It tells me that my e mail already exists?  You are already a system user.  Login using your e mail and 'Forgotten Password', if you can't remember it. Your e mail is your account login, so you would need to use a different e mail, if you wish to have 2 accounts.   
  • I did not receive an account activation e mail. Check your spam folder.
  • On login – user does not exist. There are 2 reasons you may receive this message.
    • You have registered using another e mail address.
    • You registered and did not use your account. Unused accounts are deleted from time-to-time.
  • It won't accept my password. A password must contains at least 8 characters, including at least one number and both uppercase and lower letters, but with no special characters.
  • I’ve forgotten my password. Go to login and click ‘Forgot Password’.

To find out more about how Charity Excellence enables charities to improve impact, income and save money, watch this video (2 mins). and, or click the link for an introduction on how to use it (3 mins) or this one for how to get the most from the Funding Finder database (3 mins). 

If you still want help, call me on 07595 371 444 or e mail me at  

"..this has helped us to address the areas that we are not quite there, and it is amazing to have all the resources we need to support us in one place. I really can’t believe you have pulled this together single handedly. Thank you!" President, The Learned Society of Wales

Using The System

  • My set-up (My Profile) page won’t let me Save. The system uses what you tell it to create your unique questionnaires, but can’t do this until it has all the information needed.  Make at least one selection in each area.
  • I don’t know how to use a part of the system. There are ? symbols throughout the system. Click any of these, to find out what that area does and how to use it. Alternatively, click the CEF User Guide Video, Funder Guide Video for the database, or the FAQs link. All 3 are at the top of your screen.
  • The video versions of the guides are great, but where can I find all of them?  Go to the CEF You Tube channel and select a playlist. 
  • Why do I keep getting e mail reminders?  Some people register, but don't score questionnaires, which blocks others from their charity from joining. The system sends reminders, then deletes non-users.  Score questionnaires to stop these. 
  • There's an assessment statement for an activity that doesn't apply to us.  Select the 'Not Applicable' box, on the right, and the system will ignore this in your assessments. 
  • There questionnaires are very long, or there are activities we do that are missing. The system uses your My Profile page to create your questionnaires. Go to your page, click Create Questionnaires and amend this. You won’t lose the scores you’ve already entered, except those that no longer apply.
  • How do I download a report as an action plan?  Click the Export button.
  • There's a word or phrase I don't understand.  There shouldn't be, so let me know but, in the meantime, click the Charity Terms button at the top of your screen for an interactive list of 100s of charity and management terms, explained in plain English. 
  • Do I have to keep scoring questionnaires to find the resources?  No. Once a questionnaire has been scored, you can click the relevant score in your interactive dashboard or run a query. 
  • How do I find this guide again?  Click the Troubleshooting link on the left of your screen. 

Funding Finder Database

  • How can I get the most from the system?  Watch this short video
  • What are funding finders? The system has links to 400+ other free funding databases and online funder lists, giving you click through to a huge range of funders. 
  • How do I find core funders?  Select 'core funders' in the Category menu; there are 170+.  
  • How do I find the most recent funders?  The funders are updated every week.  Select New Additions, as a search category. 
  • Is there are list of all the funder lists and free funding finders on the system?  Yes, click here.  There are 50+.
  • How do I download the funder lists?  From the income questionnaire statement on finding new funders.  It has FUNDER LISTS typed into the text, so you can't miss it. 


The system is hosted on a UK based Microsoft virtual machine, with SSL encryption.  Your data will never be sold commercially and will not routinely be disclosed to third parties without either your consent, or unless required to do so by law, but may be shared with non-profit partners who are working with me to develop and scale the CEF and they may contact you to make you aware of the charitable work they do. Full details are in the Privacy Statement and Terms & Conditions, available via the website links at the bottom of each web page. 

The questions are phrased brilliantly - challenging how we prioritise our management time." Ecosystems Knowledge Network

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