Designing Custom Volunteer Award Pins

From national organizations like Habitat For Humanity to a town’s local soup kitchen, nonprofit organizations around the country come to All About Pins for custom volunteer award pins recognizing the dedication and work of their volunteers. We see award pins in every shape or size, but there a few key trends we’ve found consistent in volunteer award pins. With this article, we’ll walk through tips for designing award pins that your volunteer force will treasure.

Using Organizational Assets and Iconography

Of course, any organizational pin will feature a brand’s name or logo and existing art assets are great design addition for distinctly identifying an award with service to your organization but using brand graphics in volunteer award pins is more nuanced. Rather than being used to market or spread an organization’s brand, your branding marks a volunteers involvement and its an opportunity to highlight a volunteer’s direct contributions.

Think about adding typography or graphics that resonate with your volunteers specifically and honor their direct contributions. Remember, volunteers donate their time and effort to your organization because they believe in its mission or cause. Awarding pins that recognize their contributions and giving them an official organizational pin treats them as an involved and contributing member of an organization and its mission.

2018SeattleInternationalFilmFestival

For example, during the 2018 Seattle Film Festival, the organizers awarded their volunteers who committed 40 hours of service to the event with “Full 40” award pins, shown up top, featuring the event’s specific typography and stamped onto its recognizable star symbol. This pin is a classic example of a volunteer award pin, recognizing the hours of labor committed by their volunteer and specifically identifying them as involved members of the event.

Splitting Orders

Need to differentiate the milestones and achievements of different members of your volunteers? You can customize your order and split specific design elements such as numbering, plating and colors. Splitting an order allows our clients to create visual diversity within an individual order and let them highlight different milestones within the same order.

VolunteersofAmerica

Say you order 100 polished silver award pins recognizing those who spent 40 hours working with your organization during an event and stamped with the number 40 in honor of their contributions. But, you also want to especially honor your top 20 volunteers who went above the call of duty and contributed 80 hours of their time to your organization. By splitting the order, you can take 20 pins from your order have them plated in polished gold and stamped with the number 80 to highlight those

Selecting the Right Pin Type

Choosing a pin type decides the production process of a pin, which is a big influence on how a pin design looks and feels after production. It’s important to remember that most pin styles don’t allow for creating gradients of color on a pin which can limit how you present a specific logo or design feature for your volunteer pins.

SoftEnamel v HardEnamel v Die Struck

As awards, you definitely want your volunteer pins to have a feel of genuine value and quality that reflects on the hard work of your volunteers, and, of course, identifies them as respected members of your organization. Overwhelmingly, we’ve noticed volunteer award pins are popular as silk screen pins, cloisonne pins and die struck pins.

Keep these individual features about each pin type in mind when deciding which is best for your award pin:

    • Silkscreen pins are ideal for perfectly recreating an organizational logo or branding symbol, which can be very important for organizations with strict standards on how their symbols are presented. Additionally, a silkscreen pin allows a design to reach the entire edge of a pin, using all available surface area without borders or raised metal lines and are one of the few pin types to allow for color gradients on a design.
    • Cloisonne pins have an almost smooth jewelry-quality finish of much higher perceived value than most other pin types. They look professional, valuable, and are obviously a step up in quality on immediate inspection from more common soft enamel pins you see every day as accessories.
    • Die struck pins are stamped in metal and left in the color of their natural plating giving it a medallion-like appearance that immediately reminds volunteers and viewers alike.

Adding Presentation Cases

All of our pins come with free PVC pouches for storage, but these pouches are better suited for retail pins meant as accessories. Instead, upgrade to individual presentation cases for volunteer award pins. Not only are they handy for storing and displaying pins, but a personalized case increases the intrinsic value of your award pin as a gift. We offer two options, acrylic presentation cases with foam padding and velvet presentation cases with a felt-lined interior.

Acrylic Case

Our acrylic cases are most popular with our customers but, honestly, going with a velvet case provides the best quality. Aside from improving the perceived quality of a pin, presentation cases make your pins smart promotional tools, which are more likely to be put on display on a desk or shelf instead of being kept in a jewelry box.


Not sure if your design is production-ready? The team at All About Pins is ready to help you at every step of the process, from providing full-color art samples of how a volunteer award pin will look to revising a design as many times as needed to get it right, we’re devoted to making sure your award pins honor the work and dedication of their recipients.