Kevin Curley, chief executive of the local infrastructure organisation Navca, won the Luke FitzHerbert Lifetime Achievement Award at the Third Sector Excellence Awards in London last night.
Receiving the award, Curley gave a brief overview of his 40-year career in the voluntary sector and spoke of the need for central and local government to support voluntary action.
"Processes that suit big national charities will not necessarily suit local voluntary action," he said. "Local women's groups, for example, will not thrive in an environment of competitive tendering and payment by results.
"The intricate tapestry of local voluntary action tells a compelling story and, like any tapestry and story, we must look after it with care."
Other individual winners were Barrington Wright, of the criminal justice charity the St Giles Trust, who took Volunteer of the Year, and Helen Baker of Advance Housing and Support, who won the new category of Charity Chair of the Year.
The awards, hosted by the Rev Richard Coles of BBC Radio 4's Saturday Live programme, were presented at a black-tie dinner attended by more than 500 guests at the London Lancaster hotel.
Three charities were double winners. The homelessness charity Thames Reach won Communications Campaign for its work to reduce the alcohol content of super-strength drinks, and the Big Impact Award for London Reconnections, its campaign to help destitute people from eastern Europe to return home.
Elephant Family, which placed colourful model elephants around the streets of London last year as part of its campaign to save the Asian elephant, won both Innovation in Fundraising and Fundraising Event.
The third double winner was St Peter’s Hospice, which runs nearly 50 shops in the Bristol area: it won both Charity Trading and Social Enterprise.
Other winners included Samaritans, which took Corporate Partnership for its campaign with Network Rail to reduce suicide on the railways, and Eric (Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence), which was named Small Charity, Big Achiever.
Muslim Hands won Direct Marketing Campaign for its drive to increase awarenes and use of Gift Aid among donors, Compassion in World Farming won Annual Report, and Beatbullying won Best Use of Digital Media for its campaign The Big March.
See our gallery of photographs from the awards
Full list of winners:
Public Sector Partnership: Afrikids, with Ghana Health Service and Southampton University Hospitals, for the GAS Partnership.
Corporate Partnership: Samaritans, with Network Rail, for Reducing Suicide on the Railways.
Social Enterprise: St Peter’s Hospice.
Annual Report: Compassion in World Farming.
Website: Care International, for Lendwithcare.org.
Communications Campaign: Thames Reach, for its super strength drinks campaign.
Brand Development: the Queen’s Nursing Institute.
Use of Digital Media: Beatbullying, for The Big March.
Best Communications Team: Merlin, the international medical relief charity.
Charity Trading: St Peter’s Hospice.
Financial Management: Alternative Futures Group, the learning disability charity.
Trustee Board of the Year: the British Youth Council.
Charity Chair of the Year: Helen Baker, Advance Housing and Support.
Innovation in Fundraising: Elephant Family.
Direct Marketing Campaign: Muslim Hands, for its Gift Aid awareness campaign.
Fundraising Team: Childreach International.
Fundraising Event: Elephant Family, for Elephant Parade.
Best Employer: Save the Children UK.
Volunteer of the Year: Barrington Wright, the St Giles Trust.
Small Charity, Big Achiever: Eric (Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence).
Big Impact Award: Thames Reach, for London Reconnections.
The Luke FitzHerbert Lifetime Achievement Award: Kevin Curley, chief executive, Navca.