The King’s Award for Voluntary Service

Every day, millions of people across the UK are making a difference by volunteering.
Each year, outstanding examples of this work are celebrated through the Kings’s Award for Voluntary Service (KAVS).

Equivalent to an MBE, KAVS are the highest awards given to local voluntary groups in the UK, and they are awarded for life.


Volunteer groups should have been running for three years or more to be nominated. Any group of two or more people doing voluntary work can be nominated but the majority of the group must be volunteers and more than half the volunteers must have the right to live in the UK. The group will need to know they are being nominated.

To be nominated, a group should do work that:

  • Provides a service and meets a need for people living in the local community
  • Is supported, recognised and respected by the local community and the people who benefit from it
  • Is run locally

Who can Nominate?

To nominate a group, you must be independent from the group.

You could be, for example, someone who benefits from the group’s work or someone who’s aware of the group’s work.

You must include at least two letters of support which show:

  • How the group helps the local community
  • How you know the group

The letters can come from a wide range of people. For instance, those who receive the service, those who know about the service provided, councillors, police officers, mayors, MPs, religious leaders, fire officers, teachers. They do not have to be from people occupying senior positions.

How are the Winners Chosen?

The QAVS runs in annual cycles, starting with nominations in April each year, then due diligence and assessment between September, and announcements of awardees in June.

A panel overseen by the Lieutenancy looks at evidence of the group’s activity, the group’s impact and reputation and how it may have overcome obstacles. The nomination needs to demonstrate to the panel that the volunteer activity is exceptional, along with information that brings out the roles of volunteers and whether the activity of the group is volunteer led.

Volunteer led does not mean that ‘only volunteers’ must be involved in the work of the group; it just means that there must be evidence of the volunteers taking a leading role in key aspects of the work of the group.

Also taken into account is how far the group has achieved, or is moving towards achieving, standards of excellence in its organisation and its volunteers.

More information

Anyone aware of the group, including people who benefit from the group’s activities, may make a nomination by completing a form.

Please don’t nominate your own group if you’re a volunteer or paid staff member so as to ensure that nominations are independent and supported.

More detailed information, including how to nominate, can be found on the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) website.