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EACEA National Policies Platform


2. Voluntary Activities

2.2 Administration and governance of youth volunteering

Last update: 19 March 2024


In 2017, the Third Sector Code (Legislative Decree 117/17 - Third Sector Code) significantly reformed the Third Sector and volunteering organizations.

In implementing the Third Sector reform, Legislative Decree 40/2017 regulates the governance system of the civil service, the roles and participation procedures of public institutions, civil service bodies and young people.

The main actors involved in the governance of global volunteering at a national level are the following:

The Ministry of Labour and Social Policies is responsible for the implementation of the legal provisions on volunteering. It is also responsible for promoting the development of volunteering taking into account three key concepts: active citizenship, sharing of values ​​and participation in the community.

The Ministry is responsible, inter alias, for the following:

  • Promoting research and studies in Italy and abroad on voluntary work, the third sector and active welfare state policies;
  • Collaboration with the Regions for education and updating courses for the provision of services;
  • The Technical Secretariat of the National Observatory for volunteering and work group activities;
  • Administrative management of funds granted to volunteering associations and NGOs for the purchase of equipment and ambulances to be donated to public health services;
  • Financing, administrative and technical support of pilot projects implemented by volunteering organizations, financed by the Fund for Voluntary Service;
  • Monitoring of the Service Centres for Volunteering;
  • Cooperation with European and international organizations of the voluntary sector and the third sector.

The Department for Youth Policies and Universal Civil Service is the reference structure of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers for the promotion and coordination of youth policies and the management of the Universal Civil Service established by Legislative Decree 40/17.

The Department is responsible for the organization, management and overall monitoring of the Universal Civil Service and the experimentation of the Civil Peace Corps, a contingent of young volunteers employed in non-governmental peace actions in areas of conflict and at risk of conflict and in areas of environmental emergency, provided for by law 147 of December 27, 2013. The Department deals with the financial planning and administrative management of the National Fund for the Civil Service. Furthermore, the Department promotes and supports young people's access to civil service projects.

The National Observatory for Volunteering, founded in 1990, is chaired by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies and is composed of ten representatives of volunteering organizations active at least in six regions, two experts and three representatives of the main trade union organizations. The Observatory has the task of providing for the census of volunteering associations, promoting research, approving experimental projects and providing consultancy services.

The national supervisory structure is a foundation with a legal status under private law with full statutory and managerial autonomy. It was established by a decree of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies 6/2018. The foundation has a unique nature among other private foundations. Following Legislative Decree 117/17 - Third Sector Code, the foundation is responsible for the allocation of funds to the Service Centres for Volunteering.

The Service Centres for Volunteering, established by the framework law on volunteering n. 266/1991 and the reform of the third sector (legislative decree 117/17), are structures aimed at developing volunteering at regional level. The Centres provide technical assistance to volunteering organizations in the field of promotion, training and communication. Promoting a culture of volunteering among young people is one of their main objectives. The Service Centres are present in all the Italian regions. The Single National Fund ensures their financing through donations from banking foundations. Volunteer Service Centres may also make use of different resources which must be included in separate accounts.

CSV-Net is the national association of Volunteer Service Centres. It is inspired by the Charter of values of volunteering and the Charter of representation. It aims to strengthen the collaboration, exchange of experiences and good practices between the Service Centres, through technical assistance and training while carrying out research on non-profit organizations.

The Regions and the Autonomous Provinces have the task of establishing and updating the Single Register of the Third Sector, which lists voluntary organizations, social promotion associations, philanthropic bodies and social enterprises. Only organizations that have duly registered in the register have the right to apply for financial support.

In the context of the national civil protection service, the Regions and Autonomous Provinces have, among other functions, that of organizing the use of organized civil protection and voluntary work at local level, as well as the related forms of representation on a democratic basis (Legislative Decree 1/2018). Many Regions and Autonomous Provinces have issued specific regulations in relation to voluntary civil protection and report the requisites that the subjects providing the voluntary services must have.

The following are the Regions that have a regulation on volunteering:

Intersectional cooperation

The Department for Youth Policies and Universal Civil Service has the function of coordinating government actions targeting young people and measures regarding civil service.

The Ministry of Education and Merit and the Ministry of University and Research encourage the promotion and awareness of students in the field of solidarity and voluntary work through the signing of specific agreements with the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies as well as memoranda of undertaking with subjects of the third sector operating at a national level.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, in agreement with the Regions (State-Regions Conference), the Ministry of Education and Merit and the Ministry of University and Research , together with the Ministry of Public Administration are responsible for defining the criteria for the recognition of skills acquired in volunteering.

Public administrations (State, Regions, Provinces, Municipalities) have the task of promoting and raising awareness on the culture of volunteering, in collaboration with schools, universities, volunteering organizations and other third sector entities.