There are numerous ways to recognize a volunteer for their commitment to your organization or cause such as a thank you card, a gift, a meal in their honor, or by telling your volunteers just how much you appreciate them. Another way to show how much you appreciate them is by nominating them for a national, state, or local volunteer service award.
President’s Volunteer Service Award The President’s Volunteer Service Award is the highest volunteer award program. It encourages citizens to live a life of service through presidential gratitude and national recognition. The award encourages Americans to take a look around, be inspired, and take positive action. The Primary focus areas of the President’s Volunteer Service Award are education, economic opportunity, environmental stewardship, veterans and military families, healthy futures, and disaster response services. However, all other areas of volunteering can also be recognized. Award criteria: any individual, family, or group can receive presidential recognition for volunteer hours earned within a 12 month period or over the course of a lifetime at home or abroad. Also, the award offers three levels of achievement and the levels are bronze, silver, and gold. In order to be eligible to receive a President’s Volunteer Service Award you must fit these criteria:
- Recipient(s) must be a United States citizen or lawfully admitted permanent resident of the United States.
- Awards are issued for service hours served within a 12 month time period or over the course of a lifetime.
- Awards are issued for volunteer service only.
- Court-ordered community service does not quality for the award.
- Awards are issued by approved certifying organizations.
- Service must be with an approved certifying organization.
Jefferson Award for Public Service The Jefferson Award for Public Service strives to recognize, inspire, and activate volunteerism and public service in communities, workplace, and schools across America. Created in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassi, Senator Robert Taft Jr., and Sam Beard, the Jefferson Award believes that one person can make a difference. Over the past 42 years over 55,000 “unsung heroes” were awarded the Jefferson Award for Public Service including Paul Newman, Steve Jobs, Peyton Manning, Walter Cronkite, and Micheal Bloomberg. There are nine award categories for the national Jefferson Award for Public Service and they are:
- U.S. Senator John Heinz Award Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official
- S. Rodger Horchow Award Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen
- Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged
- Samuel S. Beard Award for the Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Under
- Greatest Public Service by an Athlete
- Greatest Public Service by an Entrepreneur
- Lifetime Achievement in Public Service
- Outstanding National or Global Service by a Young American 25 Years or Under
- Outstanding Service by a Corporation
Daily Point of Light Award Created during George H.W. Bush’s presidency, the Daily Point of Light Award celebrates the power of volunteers to spark change and improve the world through community service. Since 1989, more than 5,000 honorees have been recognized with the Daily Point of Light Award. The criteria for the Daily Point of Light Award:
- Does the volunteer work meet a community need?
- Does it demonstrate a specific impact?
- Does it last for six uninterrupted months and is ongoing (except disaster relief work)?
- Does it reflect innovative or unique approaches?
To nominate someone for a Daily Point of Light Award, fill out the nomination form.
Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for Youth Volunteerism
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the United States’ largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. The program was created in 1995 by Prudential in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) to honor middle school and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state, and national level. The criteria for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for Youth Volunteerism: Any young person who:
- Is in grades 5-12 as of November 3,
- Is a legal resident of any U.S. state or Washington, D.C.,
- Has engaged in a volunteer activity that occurred at least partly during the 12 months prior to the date of application, and submits a completed application to a school principal or the head of an officially designated local organization by November 3.
- Describe an individual’s community service activity or an individual’s significant leadership in a group activity that has taken place during the previous year,
- Be completed and submitted to a school principal or the head of an officially designated local organization by November 3, and
- Be certified by the principal of a middle school or high school or the head of an officially designated local organization.
- Students chosen as Local Honorees receive a Certificate of Achievement from their schools or organizations. Those who qualify (26 hours for age 10 and younger, 50 hours for ages 11-15 and 100 hours for ages 16 and older) also receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award. State Honorees receive an award of $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent or guardian to Washington, D.C., for national recognition events. National Honorees receive an additional award of $5,000, an engraved gold medallion, a crystal trophy for their schools or organizations, and a $5,000 grant from The Prudential Foundation for a non-profit, charitable organization of their choice. The national recognition events held in Washington, D.C., for the 102 State Honorees include gala award ceremonies at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, tours of the capital’s historic monuments and landmarks, Congressional visits on Capitol Hill, a festive dinner cruise on the Potomac River, and plenty of opportunity for the State Honorees to share their experiences and ideas with one another. The honorees also hear from notable public figures. To apply for the Prudential Spirit of the Community Award for Youth Volunteerism, go to http://spirit.prudential.com/view/page/soc/301.