Reforms to the honours system will make it easier to reward volunteers and "unsung heroes", Gordon Brown has said.
Mr Brown has written a book on "ordinary heroes"
The prime minister, who has written a book, Britain's Everyday Heroes, said he wanted to recognise "the great work that people do" in the community.
He said he wants the share of honours for community work to be "substantially higher" than its current 40%.
The Tories said Mr Brown's predecessor Tony Blair had said in 1999 he would reform the honours system.
Mr Brown said he had informed all Whitehall departments and honours committees that, in future, more awards should go to "the unsung heroes of our villages, towns and cities".
He added that a campaign would be started to promote the concept of a "good neighbour MBE".
He also announced a Social Investment Bank would be established to support charities which had limited access to usual finance providers.
And he announced a "Prime Ministerial Award for Social Technology" - to promote the use of new technology to help communities, and changes to charity law to let volunteer groups campaign without damaging their charitable status.
Mr Brown's book was published on Tuesday, and he said he wanted to make 24 July (24/7) every year a day when the government and "the country as a whole" could honour those "acting for good".
"I believe it is time to celebrate the best in Britain," he said in a speech.
"And by celebrating it and enhancing it, and by encouraging many more of us to participate in it, I believe we can build the good society where each of us asks what we can give and all of us can make a difference."
He said there would be a £515m boost in state funding for community groups, voluntary organisations and charities in the next three years.
A Council on Social Action would be set up to advise the government, as would a national youth community service.
And he said some of London's top business leaders had agreed to use their talents and experience to strengthen the voluntary sector further.
Mr Brown said flood rescue workers' efforts should be recognised
Mr Brown has pledged to reform the honours system to make it easier to recognise contributions towards communities and those who had helped deal with recent floods and attempted car bombings in London and Glasgow.
He added: "What we have witnessed a week or two ago throughout Yorkshire and Humberside and now in Gloucester and the surrounding areas are neighbours helping neighbours, young helping old, those with transport helping those who are stranded and all people doing so selflessly.
"So it's an immense privilege to be here to have the chance to recognise publicly the contribution of Britain's everyday heroes."
But the Conservatives said the scheme was "very similar" to one announced by Mr Blair in 1999 - later dubbed the "People's Peers".
Mr Blair had said a new Appointments Commission would ensure a House of Lords that was more representative of British society.
But the first list of 15 non-political crossbenchers proved controversial as they included seven people who already had knighthoods, three professors and two people with OBEs.