Be prepared with our list of UK charity prizes
Winning an award (or being shortlisted) can be a real boost for a charity — a stamp of quality from a recognised body that can propel new partnerships or opportunities. A win or a nomination also raises your profile, boosts staff engagement and opens up new audiences. Sometimes there are cash or in-kind prizes too (and maybe even a swanky awards ceremony).
If you’re thinking of entering a competition, it’s always worth investing time and thought into writing your award entry. The first step, though, is finding one where you’re in with a chance. While you might not think you’ve reached prize-winning potential just yet, it’s worth looking at what’s out there - sometimes there’s an unusual award or category that’s just the right fit. Remember also to nominate your star staff, trustees or volunteers for individual accolades.
This list of charity awards in the UK should help with your planning. Scroll to the bottom of the page for awards open specifically to Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish organisations.
Know of a charity award we've missed? Let us know and we’ll add it to the list.
Association Awards (Association of Association Executives)
These awards recognise excellence in leadership, development and service in membership organisations across the UK and Ireland. There are 20 categories covering a wide range of areas (e.g. social media, professional development, volunteer programme, use of event technology…) and no entry fees.
Bond International Development Awards (BOND)
Open only to BOND members, these awards ‘celebrate the inspiring humanitarian and development work’ among their network.
Entry deadline for the 8 categories is in September. See www.bond.org.uk/events/bond-international-development-awards-2019.
Campaigns for Good (PR Week/Third Sector magazine)
Campaigns for Good ‘rewards excellence and recognises campaigns that use creative ideas successfully to further 'positive causes’. The awards are open to agencies and for-profit brands, as well as public sector organisations, charities and other nonprofits. Categories for charities in 2018 included ‘best awareness campaign’ and ‘best fundraising and advocacy campaign’.
Centre for Social Justice Awards (Centre for Social Justice)
This annual high-profile award ceremony ‘honours the best grassroots, poverty-fighting charities and social enterprises from across Britain.’ Winners in each of the five categories get a £10,000 grant.
Applications due in September. Read more at www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/awards.
Charity Awards (Civil Society Media)
Another long-running awards scheme that honours organisations doing exceptional work in all areas of charitable activity, with 10 categories. Nominees are invited to a red-carpet award ceremony.
Charity Times Awards (Charity Times)
These long-running awards celebrate best practice in the UK charity sector, with numerous categories, all free to enter.
Charity Governance Awards (The Clothworkers Company)
These awards aim to celebrate outstanding governance in charities, both small and large. Governance is defined broadly, with categories such as ‘improving impact’, ‘managing turnaround’ and ‘embracing digital’. Winners of each take home £5,000.
Charity Retail Awards (Charity Retail Association)
In 2018 these retail awards had 13 categories, including ‘best shop window’ and ‘most valuable item’ and ‘young volunteer of the year’.
Nominations open around March. Read more on the Charity Retail Association website.
FSI Small Charity Big Impact Awards (FSI)
Launched in 2017, these include categories for different levels of annual income (starting at under £50,000), so you’ll only be competing against charities of a similar size.
Winners are announced during the FSI’s Small Charity Week in June; look out for entries opening from the spring. Read more at https://smallcharityweek.com/small-charity-big-impact-day/.
Fundraisers: The New Generation (Third Sector magazine)
Recognising up-and-coming talent in the fundraising sector, these awards are open to junior, mid-level and senior fundraisers (of any age, but with less than three years’ experience in fundraising). The awards are free to enter.
Awards are announced during Fundraising Week around May; look out for entries opening in early spring.
Find out more: www.fundraisingweek.co.uk/networking/new-generation/
Global Good Awards
Formerly the National CSR Awards, these recognise businesses, NGOs, charities and social enterprises of all sizes from micro to multinationals, for doing good globally.
Entry fees range from £79 – £799, with the higher tiers including ceremony tickets, and pricing based on the organisation’s global number of employees. There is a 20 percent discount to registered charities.
GSK Impact Awards (GSK / King’s Fund)
Here’s one for healthcare and wellbeing charities. You’re eligible if you’re a registered charity that’s at least three years old, work in a health-related field in the UK, and have a total annual income of between £80,000 and £2.5 million. Award winners get funding, free training, publicity and national recognition.
Entry period is around July. Find out more at www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/gsk-impact-awards.
Guardian Public Service Awards (The Guardian)
This one is for individual ‘public servants’ who have ‘contributed outstanding work and made a real difference.’ In 2018 five nominees from the public and third sector were shortlisted and Guardian readers selected the final winner.
Keep an eye out for future rounds on the Guardian Society website (entries open around May): www.theguardian.com/society/publicservicesawards.
Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards (Care Management Matters)
These recognise ‘the innovation and excellence happening throughout the not-for-profit care and support sector.’ This covers achievements across all ages from birth to end-of-life care in a range of settings, whether a registered care provider or community group.
Nominations around September. Find out more at www.caremanagementmatters.co.uk/3rd-sector-care-awards/ or follow @3rdSectorCare and #3rdSectorCareAwards.
National Campaigner Awards (Sheila McKechnie Foundation)
These awards ‘celebrate the best in campaigning’, with categories for both individuals (e.g. leaders, young campaigners) and organisations/campaigns as well as coalitions.
Nominations open in November. Read more at http://smk.org.uk/smk-campaigner-awards/
National Fundraising Awards (Institute of Fundraising)
The ‘only awards that recognise and reward fundraising excellence and best practice in the charity sector’. The 2018 edition had 16 categories.
Third Sector Awards and Business Charity Awards (Third Sector magazine/Markel)
High-profile awards with loads of categories - from best annual report to digital innovation to finance team of the year - so you’re bound to find one worth applying to.
Third Sector also runs the Business Charity Awards (again a number of different categories) so if you’ve got a great corporate partnership you want to showcase, check out www.thirdsector.co.uk/business-charity-awards-2018.
Social Change Awards (Directory of Social Change)
These awards celebrate the passionate individuals and organisations (not only charities) ‘committed to making a positive impact in society’. For most categories, your work needs to take place within the UK.
Nominations around August time. Find out more at www.dsc.org.uk/events/social-change-awards/.
Social CEOs (Zoe Amar/Matt Collins/Just Giving)
Social CEOs was launched in 2013 to celebrate brilliant charity leaders on social media and digital. It’s important to note that it’s not just for chief executives: trustees, directors or heads of department can also be nominated, and there’s a category for best ‘rising star’ which can be someone of manager level.
Stephen Lloyd Awards
These support early stage projects that have real potential to achieve practical, sustainable social change. Winners receive support from the Stephen Lloyd Awards’ pro bono community, and £20,000 to develop their ideas.
Winners tend to be start-ups or social enterprises but charities have also been successful.
Application period is February-April. Find out more at www.stephenlloydawards.org.
Tech 4 Good Awards (AbilityNet)
The AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards ‘recognise organisations and individuals who use digital technology to improve the lives of others and make the world a better place.’
Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service
This one is open to any group of two or more people doing volunteering work that provides a service/meets a need for the local community; nominations must come from someone else (you can’t nominate your own group).
Winners get a certificate signed by the Queen and possibly an invitation to a royal garden party. Nominations for 2019 close on 19 September. Read more at https://qavs.direct.gov.uk or follow @QueensAwardVS.
Winifred Tumim Memorial Prize (NCVO)
This one celebrates best practice in charity governance, and is open only to charities headquartered in England. To enter you need to demonstrate how you’ve improved the effectiveness of your governance and delivered greater public benefit in line with the Charity Governance Code. There are prizes in the form of cash and training courses.
Read more about the 2018 edition: www.ncvo.org.uk/practical-support/information/governance/winifred-tumim-memorial-prize
Team London Awards
The annual Team London Awards celebrates the individuals, teams and corporate volunteers who are making outstanding contributions to their communities. In 2018 there were three different sectors and within these, categories for individuals, teams and projects/charities.
Scottish Charity Awards (SCVO)
These annual awards are open to all types of voluntary organisations, including registered charities, social enterprises and campaigning groups. In 2018 there were nine categories including a few for individuals (campaigners and trustees).
Entries due around March. Read more: https://scvo.org.uk/scottish-charity-awards.
SURF Awards (Scotland Regeneration Forum/Scottish Government)
These long-running awards aim to recognise and reward best practice and innovation in community regeneration and to highlight the role that regeneration projects have in improving the wellbeing of individuals and communities.
Applications open around June. Read more at www.surf.scot/surf-awards/.
Third Sector Awards Cymru (WCVA)
The annual Third Sector Awards Cymru ‘honour the hard work and inspirational achievements of the third sector in Wales.’ There were seven categories in the 2017 edition.
Entries in October/November time. Read more at www.wcva.org.uk/about-us/our-awards-schemes/third-sector-awards-cymru.
Wales Volunteer of the Year (WCVA)
Running since 2004, these awards recognise those ‘helping their communities and each other in all sorts of remarkable ways.’ There were six categories in the latest edition, including for young volunteers, digital volunteers and groups.
Volunteers cannot nominate themselves for the award, but their organisation can. Entries open around April. Read more at www.wcva.org.uk/about-us/our-awards-schemes/wales-volunteer-of-the-year-awards.
Hays NI Institute of Fundraising Awards (Institute of Fundraising Northern Ireland)
Open to all individuals and fundraising teams across Northern Ireland’s voluntary and community sector.
Nominations deadline in 2018 was in May. Keep an eye on the IoF website for details: www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/groups/national-northern-ireland/.
Live Here, Love Here Awards
These awards celebrate groups and individuals whose voluntary work ‘makes Northern Ireland a cleaner, greener and safer place to live’. This includes improving the quality of the local environment, reducing litter, or encouraging others to get involved in practical environmental action.
Applications due in around January. Read more at http://liveherelovehere.org/cgi-bin/generic?instanceID=17.