How to nominate a voluntary champion for an honour or award

Karen Cann blog header

The UK honours system recognises people in the voluntary sector who have gone above and beyond to shape and improve their communities, and who have made a significant impact, making life better for others.

For those actively involved in charity or community work, the most relevant honours include the Order of the British Empire (OBE), the Member of the British Empire (MBE), and the British Empire Medal (BEM).

Do you know someone who has been exceptional and made a positive impact in the charity or community sector? Perhaps a community leader, volunteer or philanthropist who has made a real difference?

The great news is, to nominate – it’s easier than you think!

Anyone can be nominated – it isn’t to do with age, class or how long they have been working or volunteering.

When nominating, you don’t specify what honour you would like your nominee to receive – that will be decided by the honours committee.

How do I nominate someone?

You could start today! There isn’t a specific deadline: you can submit your nomination at any time of the year and the process takes one to two years to verify. Try to nominate when your individual is still active.

Nomination forms are available online, and require detailed information about the individual’s accomplishments.

You’ll need to begin with why you are nominating your person, and this will include their:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Contact details
  • Relevant work or volunteering
  • Recognition they have received, such as awards
  • Two supporting letters

Please use descriptive sentences to describe the transformative nature of their efforts. Highlight specific projects, initiatives, or programmes they have contributed to, along with details of the benefits to the community and the lives they’ve touched.

In simple terms: why is their work important?

A few tips!

  • Please use all the characters you are given and try not to leave any part of the form blank.
  • Provide some background to the organisation they are working or volunteering for.
  • Link facts, such as roles, dates, and actions, to the impact your nominee has made.
  • Provide evidence to back everything up.

Please do not list all their work roles, qualifications, and achievements in a ‘CV’ style.

The focus should be on their IMPACT and the selfless way they have provided service and changed lives for the better. Tell their story!

To do this, the committee recommend that you think about:

  • What were things like before their efforts began?
  • How are things now?
  • What makes the nominee different from other people doing similar work?

You will need to gather and provide evidence for your individual’s achievements, such as news articles, weblinks, photos and other relevant files.

Supporting letters 

Anyone who has worked with or has experienced the work of the individual can write a letter of recommendation to be submitted along with the nomination. It should be from people who know the nominee, such as:

  • Someone from the nominee’s organisation or community.
  • A high-profile individual such as a local councillor or MP.
  • Someone who works alongside them.


Please keep everything confidential – it is very important that the individual doesn’t find out that they are being nominated, as they will feel disappointed if they don’t receive an award. Moreover, there will be personal data collected so be careful where this is stored.

Please don’t worry about nominating, the honours committee doesn’t expect the submission to be perfect or overly formal – so give it a go!

The Honours are announced at New Year and on the King’s birthday. You shouldn’t contact the committee about your nomination – if you are successful, the honour will be made public. If you haven’t heard after two years, then you may submit again.

The UK Honours system is a powerful way to celebrate and elevate those who make a significant difference in the charity and community sector. By nominating individuals for these awards, not only do we recognise their efforts, but it could also inspire others to contribute to the well-being of their communities and highlight some fantastic organisations along the way!


So, why not celebrate one of your staff or volunteers, an unsung hero who works hard to create positive change, they may really appreciate the award!


For more information please visit: Nominate someone for an honour or award: Overview – GOV.UK (


This nomination process is for individuals only, to nominate a voluntary group for The King’s Award for Voluntary Service: The King’s Award for Voluntary Service: Overview – GOV.UK (

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