Guidance Notes

Who may make a nomination?

Anyone aware of the group, including people who benefit from the group's activities, may make a nomination. Simply complete the form. Please don't nominate your own group if you're a volunteer or paid staff member as we need to ensure that nominations are independent and supported. Nominations from staff members/ volunteers will be deemed ineligible.

When should I send in my nomination?

As with the UK national honours, you can send in your nomination at any time. We may then consider them at any time within three years of the nomination. That said, each year we ask that nominations are submitted by a specified date in September (date set out on to make sure the group is initially considered the year after they are nominated. The Awards are published on 2 June on the anniversary of Her Majesty's coronation. We'll let you and the Award recipients know beforehand, but you must not tell anyone outside the group until 2 June.

Any advice on completing the nomination form?

Please complete the form accurately. Tell us as much as you can within the number of words allowed, and follow the instructions in each section. It is important that you provide full but concise information about your nominated group, and explain exactly how they contribute to the people they benefit and the community. We recommend that you save a separate copy of your draft nomination your own records. If you need help or advice to complete the form, please contact the Award Administrator.

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 County Assessment Panels normally wish to visit groups to gain a better understanding of their work, and groups must have said they are willing to accept an Award if the nomination is successful. However, it is important that groups understand that a nomination won't automatically lead to an Award.

What proof of support must I show?

Two letters of support must be provided from people independent of the group and 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. We are looking for letters that bring the work and impact of the group to life and as such they can be written by beneficiaries. Support letters written by anyone directly involved in or with the group, such as a volunteer or Trustee, will not be considered.

The letters of support are a very important part of the nomination process, and are often critical in the decision making process.

What happens to the nomination after I have sent it in?

We regret that we cannot enter into correspondence on the merits of a particular nomination while it is being considered or if it does not succeed. Your nomination may be held in a 'nominee pool' for up to three years while we continue to consider it. We may ask you to provide more information about your nominated group during the three-year period, to enable us to make a final decision about whether the group should be given an Award.

What if the nomination is unsuccessful?

If, after three years, your nominated group has not been successful, you may assume that the nomination has lapsed. You or other nominators may re-nominate the group, but a different outcome is unlikely unless the group has additional achievements.

If the group has been informed that they have been unsuccessful, it is recommended that they wait 3 years before being renominated.

How to withdraw a nomination?

You may wish to withdraw a nomination after submitting the form, for various reasons. This may include after further reviewal, deciding that the group may benefit from being nominated at a later stage. If for any reason, you wish to withdraw a nomination - please contact the award administrator stating the reason for withdrawal.

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. The group may be a branch of or affiliated to a larger regional or national organisation, as long as the volunteers started and developed the initiative for the activity locally, and the group's achievements go beyond what is expected of similar groups in the wider organisation's network.
  • 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.
  • Groups may bring a direct or indirect benefit. Indirect benefit includes, for example, work to preserve the heritage or environment.
  • Groups must have been operating at a 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, if appropriate. These requirements may include a Disclosure and Barring Service Check. For more information please visit
  • The group has public liability insurance or any other relevant insurance required for its work.

Groups involved in fundraising activities are eligible for the Award if their work extends beyond fundraising and the fundraising activity:

  • involves volunteers.
  • focuses on creating or holding an event or local activity, rather than simply asking for donations.
  • is to provide something that can be shown to benefit the local community.

Groups operating in a statutory setting are eligible for the Award, but as with other nominations we ask that you bring out the specific role of volunteers and how the activities of the group are volunteer-led.

What standards do you look for?

The Award recognises groups whose work has significantly benefited others and sets the national benchmark for excellence in volunteering by such groups. This is reflected in the criteria by which we judge nominations. We recognise that it is difficult to single out groups that deserve special recognition. However, because of the Award's high status, our assessment is thorough and rigorous so as to maintain the value of, and public respect for, the Award.

We look at evidence of need for the group's activity, the group's impact and reputation and how it may have overcome obstacles. We look for evidence that the volunteer activity is exceptional, along with nominations that bring out the roles of volunteers and whether the activity of the group is volunteer-led. We also take into account how far the group has achieved, or is moving towards achieving, standards of excellence in its organisation and its volunteers.

Procedure for assessment and selection

Each nomination is first appraised in the county where the group works. This appraisal is led by the Lord Lieutenant, Her Majesty's representative in the county, helped by a County Assessment Panel of leading representatives from diverse sectors of the community. The Lord Lieutenant or their representatives, or both, normally wish to visit the nominated group. Nominated groups from the Crown Dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, and those from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, are also assessed by the Lieutenant Governors of the Crown Dependencies and by panels established by the devolved administrations.

A Specialist Assessment Panel of independent volunteering experts from across the UK judge nominated groups against the Award criteria, taking into account the first appraisal. The panel passes its recommendations to the Main Award Committee, who advise the Minister. HM The Queen makes the Awards on the advice of the Minister. Once The Queen has given her formal approval, we inform Award recipients, but the news must remain strictly confidential until the Palace makes the public announcement on 2 June, the anniversary of The Queen's coronation. A list of Award recipients is published in the London Gazette.

Each nomination is judged solely on merit and there is no set number of Awards for a particular sector or region. However, we aim to achieve a reasonable balance over time of such factors as age, sector and population distribution.

Receiving an Award

The Lord Lieutenant of the county, as The Queen's representative, will present each group with a certificate, signed by The Queen, 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.

Each successful group will be allocated 2 places at the annual royal garden party at Buckingham Palace in London or the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

Citation guidance

  • For Short Group Names - Of than 6 words (if not all lengthy words), keep citation to about 20 words / 120 characters so we can accommodate everything in the space available.
  • For longer Group Names - Citation must be shorter as group name will take up space. Ideally, no more than 12-15 shorter words.

Where you heard about the Award

In the nomination form, we ask you to tell us where you heard about the award. This helps us to assess how effectively we are promoting the Award, as well as helping us to ensure that we are using the most effective and efficient methods to increase awareness of the Award.

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 about the nominator will help us achieve this. We use the information only for monitoring purposes. We will not take it into account in assessing the group.


Many questions about the Award and its history are answered at If you have further questions, please contact the Award Administrator:

Award Administrator

0207 271 6206