Volunteer Ireland Award Categories

Each year, people from all over Ireland are encouraged to nominate the volunteers they know for a Volunteer Ireland Award.

The awards aim to celebrate and recognise the thousands of remarkable people across the country who selflessly give their time and talent to benefit others. Anyone can nominate a volunteer. The only requirement is that they give their time voluntarily, without pay (with the exception of the Volunteer Manager category). The Volunteer Ireland Awards are open to people of all ages voluntering with Irish volunteer involving organisations.

11 Category Winners and 1 Volunteer of The Year

Volunteers can be nominated for an award in 1 of 11 categories. These categories reflect different facets of volunteering work. The focus of the organisation that the nominee volunteers with determines the category they should be nominated in.

The final category for Outstanding Volunteer Manager, is separate because it can be awarded to someone in a paid or unpaid role.

Each volunteer nominated receives a special Thank You card from Volunteer Ireland acknowledging their service.

All nominations are adjudicated by a shortlisting team and a panel of judges. Entries are whittled down to 33 shortlisted nominees, who will attend a gala awards ceremony in December in Dublin. 11 category awardees are announced at the ceremony and one truly exceptional volunteer is named Christine Buckley Volunteer of the Year.

This award is named in memory of Christine Buckley, who sadly passed away in March 2014. As a co-founder of C.L.G. Christine Buckley Centre for Education and Support for Survivors of Institutional Abuse, Christine campaigned tirelessly on behalf of victims of institutional abuse for more than 25 years. Christine was Ireland’s Volunteer of the Year in 2009 and went on to be presented with the award for ‘European Volunteer of the Year’ at the European Parliament in Strasbourg the same year.

You can see the previous winners of the Volunteer of the Year Award and all the category winners here.


Award Categories

Animals and Environment

Organisations which are involved in working with animals in both a therapeutic and a caring context, as well as organisations which are focused on environmental issues, safety and/or sustainability

Arts, Culture and Media  

Organisations such as libraries, galleries, theatres, drama groups, cultural centres, film and photography groups, heritage groups, community radio, etc.

Campaigning and Awareness Raising

Organisations whose core focus is on human rights, awareness raising, and campaigning around injustice

Children and Youth

Organisations working to provide for the welfare, safety, and wellbeing of children and young people


Organisations which are community based such as community centres, schools, church groups, neighbourhood groups, etc.

Safety & Emergency Services

Organisations such as first responders, first aid, search and rescue, mountain rescue, the Coast Guard, etc.

Health and Disability

Organisations working with and for people who are ill or disabled, either mentally or physically (or both) to improve quality of life.

Social Work & Social Inclusion

Organisations covering a range of fields including homelessness, the prison service, asylum seekers, domestic violence, hospices, drugs, victim support, etc

Sports and Recreation  

Organisations such as sports clubs, recreation centres, leisure clubs/centres, hill walking groups, fitness, play groups, dancing clubs, etc.

Outstanding Group Award 

Outstanding achievement of a voluntary team of three people or more.

Outstanding Volunteer Manager

We also award an Outstanding Volunteer Manager. Unlike the other categories this persons can be in a paid or unpaid position.




The Community Hero Award is a lifetime achievement award honouring a volunteer who has – over the course of their life – made an extraordinary contribution to a good cause. This award is a unique collaboration between the Volunteer Ireland Awards and The Wheel’s Charity Impact Awards. It aims to shine a light on those remarkable individuals who, year after year, dedicate their time and energy to supporting a community and voluntary organisation, club or association.

The Community Hero Award will be awarded to one of the 30 shortlisted nominees for the Volunteer Ireland Awards.

Voting and Final Selection
The ten longest serving volunteers from the 30 shortlisted nominees of the Volunteer Ireland Awards will be eligible to be selected for the Community Hero Award. The public can vote for their favourite Community Hero Award nominees online. The recipient of the Community Hero Award will be announced at the Charity Impact Awards in December.