Guidance Notes

  1. What sort of volunteer groups are you looking for?
  2. What are the eligibility requirements?
  3. Who can make a nomination?
  4. When and how do I send my nomination?
  5. Must I keep the nomination secret?
  6. What proof of support do I need to show?
  7. What happens after I submit a nomination?
  8. What happens if my nomination is not successful?
  9. Receiving an Award
  10. Helpful hints
  11. Additional questions for the nominator
  12. Contact details

1. What sort of volunteer groups are you looking for?

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is for exceptional groups of volunteers who are making a positive impact in their community and benefiting others through their work. We are looking for volunteers who have taken the initiative to create, lead and drive forward the work of their organisation and are doing this in a way that is truly distinctive & excellent.

We look at evidence of the need for the group's activity, its impact and reputation. We also look for evidence that the volunteer activity is exceptional and that volunteers are initiating and determining the group's work. We will take into account how far the group has achieved standards of excellence in its organisation and its volunteers.

2. What are the eligibility requirements?

  • A group must be made up of two or more people and must provide a specific benefit in a local area. This could be a direct benefit, such as supporting individuals and groups or providing facilities and experiences. However, the benefit might also be indirect, for example preserving the local heritage and environment, or encouraging community cohesion.
  • Those who benefit from the group's activities can be overseas residents or UK residents (or both), but the group must be based in a UK region or country.
  • The group may be a branch of, or affiliated to, a larger regional or national organisation. However, we would expect the group's volunteers to have initiated and developed a distinctive approach locally, and that the group's achievements go beyond what is expected of similar groups in the wider organisation's network.
  • Groups must have been operating at a consistently high standard for at least three years.
  • More than half the people who work in the group must be volunteers.
  • More than half the group's volunteers must have the right of residence in the UK.
  • The group satisfies requirements to safeguard children and vulnerable adults (these requirements may include a Disclosure and Barring Service Check). For more information please visit the information pages for:

  • The group has public liability insurance or any other relevant insurance required for its work.
  • Groups operating solely for the benefit of animals are NOT eligible unless it can be demonstrated that their work provides other significant benefits to the local community.
  • Groups involved in fundraising activities are eligible only if their work involves volunteers and extends beyond basic fundraising activity by:

    • creating or holding events or local activities, rather than simply asking for donations.
    • providing something that can be shown to benefit the local community.
  • Groups operating in a statutory setting, such as hospitals, police, schools are eligible. However, as with other nominations, you will need to bring out the specific role of volunteers and demonstrate that they are setting the direction for their group's work.

3. Who can make a nomination?

The nominator should have good knowledge of the group's work (e.g. as a supporter, champion or beneficiary). However, they must not be a volunteer, employee, trustee or anyone involved with the running of the group. We need to ensure that nominations are independent.

When you are ready to nominate a group, simply register online and complete the form online as described below. We regret that we cannot accept paper forms.

4. When and how do I send in my nomination?

Nominations are accepted from 1st April until mid September (this changes annually and dates can be found on the QAVS website). The Awards are published on 2nd June, the anniversary of Her Majesty's coronation. The Award recipients are notified in confidence beforehand.

Nominations can only be made on the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service Website

  1. Register using the green button on the website.
  2. Nominate your group using the purple button on the website.
  3. Complete the nomination form within the word limit and upload your support letters.

    NB, you do not have to do this all at once. You can save a draft by scrolling down to the bottom of the screen and pressing the draft button. You can access the nomination again from the top menu bar on the website page once you have logged in.

  4. Submit your nomination

    We recommend that you keep a separate copy of your draft nomination (e.g. in a Word Document) in case you experience internet/technical difficulties.

Any personal data submitted to us will be processed in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). More details can be found in our privacy notice.

5. Must I keep the nomination secret?

In contrast to other national honours, we do not expect you to treat nominations in confidence. This is because our local assessors will need to visit the group in order to gain a better understanding of their work. Also the group must be willing to accept an Award if their nomination is successful. It is important that groups understand that a nomination won't automatically lead to an Award.

6. What proof of support must I show?

Two letters of support must be provided from people independent of the group. These letters should state:

  1. the impact of the group on the local community
  2. what the volunteers in the group do and why they are special
  3. the relationship of the supporter to the group including the reason for the endorsement.

The letters of support play a very important part in the nomination process and are often critical in the decision making process. We are looking for letters that bring the work and impact of the group to life, so a letter from a beneficiary of the group would be ideal. A letter from a patron is also acceptable, as long as they have no involvement with the management and operation of the group. Please note that support letters written by anyone directly involved with the group, such as a volunteer or trustee will NOT be eligible.

7. What happens after I submit a nomination?

Each nomination will be checked for eligibility according to the criteria described in section (2) above. It will then be assessed locally in the county/Lieutenancy area where the group is active. This local assessment process is co-ordinated by the Lord Lieutenant, the Queen's personal representative in the area, and usually involves two Deputy Lieutenants visiting the nominated group. During the local assessment visit the group will be asked to make available key information and data to demonstrate that it is well run and carries out excellent work. Following the visit, a report will be submitted to a local panel who will decide whether to recommend them.

Any groups recommended by the local Lieutenancy will then be considered by an independent National Assessment Committee of voluntary sector experts from across the UK. The Committee will assess the merits of each, taking into account the initial local assessment, in order to identify groups that are exceptional. The Committee then produces a shortlist of recommended groups for the Minister to submit to Her Majesty the Queen for approval.

Once Her Majesty has given her formal approval, we will inform Award recipients. However, the news must remain strictly confidential until the public announcement on 2nd June, the anniversary of The Queen's coronation. A list of Award recipients is published in the London Gazette.

8. What if the nomination is unsuccessful?

Unsuccessful groups will be notified shortly before the Awards are announced on 2nd June. Groups can be re-nominated again after three years (ie: unsuccessful groups nominated in 2019 can be re-nominated in 2022). However, a different outcome is unlikely unless the group has additional achievements or developments.

We regret that we cannot give specific feedback or enter into correspondence on the merits of a particular nomination while it is being considered, or if it does not succeed.

9. Receiving an Award

The Lord Lieutenant of the county, as The Queen's representative, will present each group with a certificate and a commemorative crystal at a local ceremony. Award recipients are entitled to use The Queen's Award emblem on their website, stationery and other printed material, in line with official guidance.

Each successful group will also be allocated two places at a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace in London, or the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

10. Helpful Hints for completing the nomination form?

  • We cannot accept paper forms so please complete the online form, follow the instructions and remain within the stated word limit.
  • Tell us as much as you can about the group, the role of the volunteers, its impact and why it is special, providing full but concise information about your nominated group.
  • Explain exactly how they contribute to the community and the individuals who benefit.
  • Keep a separate copy of your draft nomination (for example in a Word Document) in case of internet/technical difficulties.
  • If you wish to withdraw a nomination after submitting the form, please contact the award administrator stating the reason for withdrawal.
  • If you have further questions, please contact the Award Administrator (details below).

11. Additional questions for the nominator

In the nomination form we ask you to tell us where you heard about the Award. This helps us to assess the most effective and efficient methods for increasing awareness of the Award.

The nomination form also asks about your ethnic origin. Please help us to assess the effectiveness of the system by filling in this part of the form. We want to be sure that all areas of society have access to the Award, and the information you give will help us achieve this. We use the information only for monitoring purposes. We will not take it into account in assessing the group.

12. Contact Details

If you need help or advice to complete the form, please contact the QAVS Team

0207 271 6206