Canada’s Volunteer Awards: Guidelines for Nominations
On this page
- Alternate formats
- The Awards
- Nominate a volunteer
- Nomination criteria
- Recognition of Award winners
- Privacy notice
- Resources and support
- Annex A: Guidelines for letters of support
- Annex B: Frequently asked questions
- Annex C: Glossary
Canada’s Volunteer Awards: Guidelines for nominations
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The guidelines will help you determine the right award category for your nominee and complete the nomination.
Canada's Volunteer Awards program is about recognizing the significant contributions that volunteers, not-for-profit organizations and businesses across the country make to help people and their communities. The Awards are about people working in partnerships to find new solutions to strengthen our country.
The Awards consist of 1 national award and 20 regional awards, presented every year.
For the Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement Award, 1 national recipient is selected. For Community Leader, Emerging Leader, Business Leader and Social Innovator, a recipient for each award is selected from each of the following 5 regions:
- Atlantic (Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick)
- Prairies (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta)
- British Columbia and the North (Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon)
Description of nominations
- Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement Award:
- recognizes dedicated individuals who have volunteered for at least 20 years and have inspired other volunteers, led volunteer groups or made other exceptional achievements through volunteering.
- Community Leader:
- recognizes outstanding individual volunteers or groups of volunteers who have taken a lead role in developing solutions to social challenges in communities. This category does not include not-for-profit organizations or registered charities.
- Emerging Leader:
- recognizes volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30 who have demonstrated leadership and helped to build stronger communities.
- Business Leader:
- recognizes businesses that demonstrate social responsibility in their practices, including promoting and facilitating volunteerism locally, regionally, and nationally.
- Social Innovator:
- recognizes not-for-profit organizations that address social challenges in innovative ways.
Nominate a volunteer
Before submitting a nomination
Determine the proper award category
- Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement Award
- Community Leader Award
- Emerging Leader Award
- Business Leader Award
- Social Innovator Award
Confirm that the nominee is eligible
Depending on the award, a nominee can be an individual or a group of volunteers, a not-for-profit organization or a business. Political and public advocacy work is not eligible. Nominees must meet the following criteria:
- Individuals must be Canadian citizens, permanent residents or protected persons as described in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
- Individuals must be between the ages of 18 and 30 for the Emerging Leader category and 18 years of age and over for all other categories.
- Not-for-profit organizations and businesses must be registered in Canada.
Get the nominee’s consent
- Consent from the nominee is required to begin the nomination process.
- There can be only one nomination for each nominated individual, group, business or not-for-profit organization. If several people want to nominate the same nominee, they should work together to submit a single nomination, which could include multiple letters of support. If more than one nomination for the same nominee is received, all nominators will be contacted to determine which nomination will be assessed.
Submit a nomination
Get a nomination form
To nominate someone online, visit Nominate a volunteer for Canada's Volunteer Awards. To submit a paper nomination, download and print the form for the appropriate award category by clicking on the "Nominate a volunteer button" on the Nominate a volunteer for Canada's Volunteer Awards page. To receive a paper form, contact Canada's Volunteer Awards.
Complete the declarations of consent
Carefully read all the declarations of consent throughout the nomination process. Provide your own consent, and get the consent of the nominee.
If you are submitting a nomination online, upon completion, the nominee will receive an email requesting them to authorize the nomination. This step is required for the nomination to be considered.
When submitting a paper nomination, please ensure that you and the nominee have checked all the boxes next to the declarations confirming consent and that you have signed the form.
Explain how the nominee meets each of the 6 criteria
Explain why your nominee deserves the award by following the instructions and answering the questions listed under each of the 6 nomination criteria below. Do not go over the word limit for each question.
Get letters of support
Submit at least 1 letter of support (and up to 3) from a person (or people) in the community with direct knowledge of the nominee's contributions. A letter of support is a document that highlights the contribution of a nominee. Any letters beyond the first 3 received will not be retained for the nomination. See Annex A: Guidelines for letters of support.
Complete brief questionnaire
There is an optional questionnaire following the nomination.
The 6 criteria used to assess nominations are:
Role (5 points)
- All categories:
- Briefly describe the nominee's contributions. If the nominee is selected, this description may be used for distribution to their Member of Parliament, the public, and appear in the media.
- Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement Award, Community Leader and Emerging Leader awards:
- Explain how the nominee has shown leadership and the actions they have taken to address community priorities. Describe how the nominee's actions have benefited the community and made it stronger.
- Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement Award:
- Indicate the number of years the nominee has been volunteering.
- Emerging Leader:
- Indicate the age of the nominee. They must be between 18 and 30 years of age at the time of nomination.
- Social Innovator:
- Describe innovative practices and new approaches used by the nominated organization to address community issues and priorities.
- Business Leader:
- Describe how the nominee has shown leadership in addressing community issues. Give details about the time, expertise, and resources the nominated business has dedicated to improving its community.
Impact (15 points)
- All categories:
- Impact refers to the depth of the nominee's contribution. Has the nominee identified and addressed a priority in their community? Describe how their contributions have made a lasting difference in the community. Indicate how the nominee has made a lasting difference in the community through their work. Indicate how the nominee has made their work sustainable (in other words, how will the benefits of the nominee's contribution continue when the nominee is no longer involved).
Reach (15 points)
- All categories:
- Describe who benefited from the nominee's contributions (for example, individuals and/or specific groups). Indicate how many people were affected and how they were affected. Have the contributions expanded to benefit other people or groups? Have they expanded beyond the nominee's community, locally or nationally?
Engagement (5 points)
- Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement Award, Community Leader and Emerging Leader:
- Describe how the nominee's contributions sparked teamwork to address social challenges. Describe how the nominee engaged others. Did the nominee use outside resources and get other partners involved? If so, how?
- Social Innovator:
- Describe how the nominated not-for-profit organization engaged others in a collective effort and made use of outside resources to address social challenges. Did the nominee mobilize other not-for-profit organizations, businesses and/or government organizations? If so, how?
- Business Leader:
- Did the nominated business use outside resources and mobilize others to address social challenges? Did the business develop programs or take measures to help employees volunteer in, or donate to, their community? If so, how?
Challenges (5 points)
- All categories:
- Describe the challenges (personal, social or other) that the nominee has overcome to make a contribution in their community.
Inspiration (5 points)
- Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement Award, Community Leader and Emerging Leader awards:
- Describe how the nominee became a role model in their community or in their organization. How did the nominee share their experience and knowledge and who did they share it with?
- Social Innovator:
- Describe how the nominated organization became a role model in the community for other not-for-profit organizations. Describe how the nominee shared their experience and expertise with other organizations.
- Business Leader:
- Has the nominated business been a role model in the community in terms of their business practices? Describe how the nominee has mentored others and influenced other organizations.
Recognition of award winners
Recipients of Canada's Volunteer Awards will be formally recognized at a national ceremony to highlight and celebrate their achievements. Recipients may also be asked to participate in an exemplary practices session to share experiences and lessons learned from their work. The CVA program will cover eligible costs related to recipients' attendance at the ceremony.
All award recipients will receive a lapel pin and a certificate signed by the Prime Minister. Recipients will be asked to identify an eligible not-for-profit organization to receive a grant of $5,000 for regional awards and $10,000 for the national award.
To promote their outstanding achievements, brief biographies and photos of award recipients may be shared with their members of Parliament, the public, and the media. Recipients may also be interviewed or photographed.
The information you provide on the nomination form is collected under the authority of the Department of Employment and Social Development Act and the Privacy Act to determine the nominee's eligibility for Canada's Volunteer Awards.
The information will be shared with regional reviewers, National Advisory Committee members and the Minister of Employment and Social Development for the purposes of evaluating nominations and selecting award recipients. The information will be used to brief the Minister's Office and may be shared with ESDC's Public Affairs and Stakeholder Relations Branch for internal and external communications purposes. Limited information may be shared with the nominee's Member of Parliament, the Minister of Employment and Social Development Canada, the public and the media to celebrate accomplishments and to promote program awareness.
The information provided may also be used or disclosed for policy analysis, research and/or program evaluation purposes. If selected among top-ranked nominees, your information will be shared to conduct a criminal record or background check.
Participation is voluntary. However, failure to complete this form and/or provide the personal information requested may result in the nomination not being considered for Canada's Volunteer Awards.
Your personal information is administered in accordance with the Department of Employment and Social Development Act, Privacy Act and other applicable laws. You have the right to the protection of, access to, and correction of your personal information which is described in Personal Information Bank ESDC PPU 650. Instructions for obtaining this information are outlined in the government publication entitled Info Source.
Info Source may also be accessed online at any Service Canada Centre. You have the right to file a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada regarding the institution's handling of your personal information.
You and your nominee must consent to the Canada's Volunteer Award program collecting, sharing, and disclosing all information related to the nomination with regional reviewers, National Advisory Committee members and the Minister of Employment and Social Development. The nomination form provides details about this consent which you must acknowledge and initial.
Resources and support
If you have further questions, please contact Canada's Volunteer Awards.
Annex A: Guidelines for letters of support
Letters of support should use specific and concrete examples and stories to illustrate how your nominee meets one or more of the 6 assessment criteria in the respective award category. Using a letter of support to explicitly address the criteria may increase the score for that criterion. You only have 2 pages, or approximately 1,000 words, for each letter (up to a maximum of 3 letters), so it is best to keep them clear and concise.
Letters may come from anyone with direct knowledge of the nominee's contributions. If you provide more than one letter of support, take the opportunity to provide various examples from a range of views and perspectives. In other words, ensure that the authors of the letters of support are not telling the same story several times.
Letters should be addressed to Canada's Volunteer Awards. Make sure the author of each letter limits the amount of personal information they share to their name and email or mailing address.
A letter of support may be written by the nominee's superior at the not-for-profit organization or business where they volunteer. It may come from someone who has benefitted directly from their achievements (an individual, a not-for-profit organization or a business) or from an elected representative. There are many possible sources, but the letter should be written by someone who can attest to the valuable leadership the nominee has provided through their community contributions.
Annex B: Frequently asked questions
Why have these awards been created?
Canada's Volunteer Awards have been created to recognize those who make a difference by addressing social challenges in communities across the country. The awards also highlight exemplary practices in community leadership and encourage partnerships among community members and various stakeholders. By doing so, the awards inspire Canadians from all walks of life to find new ways of building stronger communities.
What specific award categories are there?
There are 5 different award categories: the Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement Award, Community Leader, Emerging Leader, Business Leader and Social Innovator.
How many awards are there?
Canada's Volunteer Awards consist of 21 awards. There is one national award category and four regional award categories.
What is the national award?
The Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement Award is the only national award. One national recipient is selected for this category.
What are the regional awards?
Community Leader, Emerging Leader, Business Leader and Social Innovator are regional awards. One winner from each of the 5 regions described below is chosen for each of these awards.
What are the 5 regions related to the regional awards?
One recipient for each regional award will be selected from each of the following 5 regions: Atlantic (Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick), Quebec, Ontario, Prairies (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta) and British Columbia and the North (Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon).
What awards are individuals eligible for?
Individuals are eligible for the Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement Award, Community Leader Award and Emerging Leader Award.
What awards are businesses eligible for?
Businesses are eligible for the Business Leader Award.
What awards are not-for-profit organizations eligible for?
Not-for-profit organizations are eligible for the Social Innovator Award.
Are there any awards for which I could nominate a group of people?
Just one: the Community Leader Award.
Do I have to know the person I nominate?
Yes, you must be directly aware of the contributions made by the individual or group, business, or not-for-profit organization you wish to nominate. You must know them well enough to be able to obtain their consent to be nominated and to be able to complete a thorough nomination.
Do I need to get consent from the nominee?
You must get consent from the nominee confirming that they are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or protected person within the meaning of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and at least 18 years of age.
Can I nominate someone who has been nominated in the past?
Yes, you may nominate previous nominees who have not received a Canada's Volunteer Award. However, if you do, you must submit a new nomination package.
Can I submit a nomination package for someone who has already been nominated by someone else?
If you are aware that someone else has already nominated the individual, not-for-profit organization or business that you intend to nominate, it is strongly recommended that you consider writing a letter of support to strengthen the nomination package instead of preparing a new package. Please note that if more than one nomination is received for the same person, nominators will be contacted to determine which nomination will be assessed while the others are discarded.
Can I nominate myself?
Yes, you can nominate yourself.
Can I nominate a member of my family?
Yes, you can nominate a member of your family.
Can I nominate someone who has passed away?
No, posthumous nominations are not eligible.
Although posthumous nominations are not accepted, nominees who pass away in the months between the receipt of their nomination and the decision-making process are eligible to receive an award.
Can I nominate someone for their political or public advocacy volunteer work?
Political and public advocacy work are not eligible and will not be considered.
What is the Canada’s Volunteer Awards online nomination system?
It is a new system that allows nominations with letters of support to be submitted electronically.
Which nomination process should I follow—paper-based or online?
Nominators are encouraged to use the online system, which they can access through Nominate a volunteer for Canada's Volunteer Awards. It is a straightforward, fast and secure way to submit your nomination. Paper submissions are also accepted. Forms are available as PDF downloads when clicking on the "Nominate a volunteer button" on the Nominate a volunteer for Canada's Volunteer Awards page. You can also contact Canada's Volunteer Awards to receive a paper form.
Where can I find nomination forms?
Visit Nominate a volunteer for the Canada's Volunteer Awards and click on the "Nominate a volunteer button" to access the nomination forms for the award for which you will be making a nomination.
How do I know which award category to choose?
The award categories have been created to cover the full range of community contributors:
- The Thérèse Casgrain Lifelong Achievement Award recognizes dedicated individuals who have volunteered for at least 20 years and have inspired other volunteers, led volunteer groups or made other exceptional achievements through volunteering.
- The Community Leader Award recognizes outstanding individual volunteers or groups of volunteers who have taken a lead role in developing solutions to social challenges in communities. This category does not include not-for-profit organizations or registered charities.
- The Emerging Leader Award recognizes volunteers between the ages of 18 to 30 who have demonstrated leadership and helped to build stronger communities.
- The Business Leader Award recognizes businesses that demonstrate social responsibility in their business practices, including promoting and facilitating volunteerism locally, regionally and nationally.
- The Social Innovator Award recognizes not-for-profit organizations that address social challenges in innovative ways.
If you believe the nominee could be considered for more than one award, choose the award category that most closely reflects the nominee's contributions. If you are not certain which award category to choose, please contact Canada's Volunteer Awards.
How should I select the region for the nomination?
You should identify the region in which the nominee carried out the majority of their volunteer work.
Why are there 6 criteria?
The 6 criteria include role, impact, reach, engagement, challenges and inspiration. These criteria have been selected as they are best able to communicate the nominee's contribution fully, clearly and concisely. Your nomination form will define each criterion.
Can I submit a handwritten nomination form?
Yes, you can submit a handwritten nomination form.
How many letters of support should I include with the nomination form?
Include at least one letter of support, but you may submit up to 3 letters. Letters should not exceed 2 pages or 1,000 words each and should state that they are written for a Canada's Volunteer Awards nomination. Any letters beyond the first 3 received will not be retained for the nomination. If sending the letter(s) of support by mail or email, the nominator should clearly identify the name of the nominee and the award category.
Whom should I ask to provide a letter of support?
Letters of support should come from someone who has benefitted directly from the nominee's volunteer contribution, someone who worked with the nominee or an elected representative who can attest to the valuable leadership the nominee has provided in their community.
How will the information I provide be used?
The information will be used to determine the nominee's eligibility for Canada's Volunteer Awards. The information will also be shared with regional reviewers, National Advisory Committee members and the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development for the purposes of evaluating nominations and selecting award recipients.
Limited information may be shared with the nominee's Member of Parliament, the Office of the Prime Minister, the public and the media to celebrate the award recipients. The information provided may also be used or disclosed for policy analysis, research and/or program evaluation purposes.
If you refer to a third-party individual in the description of the nominee's community contributions and letters of support, please do not include personal information such as names or email addresses by which these third parties can be identified.
How will nominations be assessed?
Nominations will undergo a three-stage review process involving a different group of assessors at each stage:
- Canada's Volunteer Awards officials review each nomination form to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria.
- Regional reviewers who are volunteer representatives from the five regions assess nominations based on the set of established assessment criteria set out in this document and develop a list of top-ranked nominations for assessment by the National Advisory Committee. Regional reviewers include individual volunteers and representatives of not-for-profit organizations and businesses that use innovative approaches to volunteerism to address social challenges.
- National Advisory Committee members representing the voluntary, private and not-for-profit sectors, and various regions of the country, evaluate the top-ranked nominations and identify the award recipients on behalf of the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.
On what basis will the nomination forms be assessed?
Regional reviewers will give each nomination a score based on the written responses to the 6 criteria. The maximum total score for any nomination is 50 points. Regional reviewers can award up to 5 points for role, engagement, challenges and inspiration, and up to 15 points for impact and reach. Check your nomination form for precise descriptions of each criterion.
What other conditions must nominees be aware of?
Top-ranked nominees must undergo a criminal record check, or provide valid proof that they have received a pardon for any criminal conviction.
What if I want to nominate a national organization for a regional award even though it has made contributions in more than one region? Should I prepare nominations for more than one region or should I choose just one?
Please choose one region. Ideally, select the region in which your nominee's contributions are most evident. If in doubt, choose the region in which the national organization has its head office.
What should I do if I want to nominate someone who has recently turned 18 years old and a portion of their volunteer contribution was made before they turned 18?
As long as the person is 18 years of age when the nomination is submitted, they are eligible for Canada's Volunteer Awards.
For the Emerging Leader Award, the nominee must be between the ages of 18 and 30 years when the nomination is submitted. The nominee will be asked for proof of age at the nomination assessment stage.
What should I do if I have a question that goes beyond the range of the information contained in the Guidelines for Nominators?
Annex C: Glossary
- a for-profit enterprise incorporated under federal or provincial law.
- Canada's Volunteer Awards Unit:
- officials of Employment and Social Development Canada who are responsible for administering the Canada's Volunteer Awards.
- Canadian citizen:
- a person who is Canadian by birth, who has applied for Canadian citizenship through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and subsequently received a citizenship certificate, who was a British subject ordinarily resident in Canada on January 1, 1947 (April 1, 1949, in the case of Newfoundland and Labrador), or who was born outside of Canada after April 2009 but had at least one parent born in Canada.Footnote 1
- personal and/or external hurdles overcome to accomplish the objective of the volunteer activity. Personal challenges can include physical abilities, mental abilities and life circumstances. External challenges can include, among other things, rural or remote location or lack of access to resources (programs and services).
- community organization:
- a group that serves the public and operates in a single town or city.
- corporate social responsibility:
- the idea that businesses should voluntarily contribute to the welfare of their communities by incorporating social concerns in their business operations, thereby producing a positive impact on society.
- exemplary practices:
- methods or techniques that have consistently shown results superior to those achieved by other means, and that are used as benchmarks. Exemplary practices are generally accepted, informally standardized techniques, methods or processes that have proven themselves over time to accomplish given tasks and that can be used by multiple organizations.
- an individual that has the capacity to influence people and has a direct impact on changing lives for the better. Leadership is "by example"—a role model who is acknowledged by the community.
- the act of providing direction and motivating others to work alongside them to implement plans and solutions to problems and priorities.
- letter of support:
- a document that highlights the contribution of a nominee, written by someone who has direct knowledge of the nominee's contribution.
- lifelong achievement:
- having volunteered and made a difference in a community or organization over a period of at least 20 years. The period of volunteerism can be constant or intermittent over a longer period. The volunteer work can be focused on one or several activities or numerous causes within an organization or the community as a whole.
- National Advisory Committee:
- a committee representing the voluntary, private and not-for-profit sectors, and various regions of the country, that evaluates the top-ranked nominations and identifies the Award recipients on behalf of the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.
- nomination form:
- a document used to record all the information necessary to nominate an individual, business or not-for-profit organization for Canada's Volunteer Awards.
- a person who is nominating an individual, business or not-for-profit organization for Canada's Volunteer Awards.
- a volunteer, not-for-profit organization or business that is being nominated for a Canada's Volunteer Award to acknowledge their significant community contributions.
- not-for-profit organization (NFPO):
- for the purposes of the administration of Canada's Volunteer Awards, entities incorporated under either federal or provincial not-for-profit legislation, or registered charities that do not have transferable ownership interests, and are organized and operate exclusively on a not-for-profit basis for a variety of social, educational, professional and charitable purposes.
- permanent resident:
- someone who has acquired permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada but is not yet a Canadian citizen.
- regional reviewer:
- a person who assesses award nominees according to six criteria. Regional reviewers' assessments determine the top-rank nominees from each of category and the five regions. These are then passed on to the National Advisory Committee for further evaluation. Regional reviewers may include individual volunteer representatives of not-for-profit organizations and businesses.
- registered charity:
- refers to a charitable organization, public foundation or private foundation registered with the Canada Revenue Agency. It must be established and reside in Canada and devote its resources to charitable activities. It must also meet a public benefit test, whereby its activities and purposes provide tangible benefit to the public as a whole, or a significant section of it (not a restricted group or one where members share a private connection, such as social clubs or professional associations with specific membership). A registered charity is issued a Registration Number once the Canada Revenue Agency has approved its application for registration. It is then exempt from paying income tax, and it can issue tax receipts for donations received.
- social enterprise:
- a business operation commonly run by a charity or not-for-profit organization. Revenue is usually reinvested into the charity or not-for-profit organization to support its programs and operations. Social enterprises encourage greater resilience and independence within the non-profit sector by helping organizations to stabilize and diversify their funding base while enhancing their programs or services.
- social innovation:
- the process of finding and developing new ideas (an initiative, product, service, process, program or model) that simultaneously meet social needs (more effectively than alternatives) and create new social relationships or collaborations. Socially innovative ideas are good for society and enhance society's capacity to act.
- the capacity to endure. This definition can refer to financial maintenance, activities that receive strong support from the community or community needs identified as having a long duration.
- top-ranked nominees:
- nominations that have been assessed by regional reviewers and moved ahead to the National Advisory Committee for further evaluation.
- an individual, business or not-for-profit organization that freely and altruistically offers to partake in an enterprise or undertake a task.
- the act of being a volunteer; the offering one's time, energy and skills altruistically towards a particular undertaking with no expectation for monetary return.
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