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EACEA National Policies Platform


5. Participation

5.6 Supporting youth organisations

Last update: 28 November 2023

Legal/policy framework for the functioning and development of youth organisations

On 1 January 2001, the Federal Youth Promotion Act (Bundes-Jugendförderungsgesetz) came into force. It was last modified in 2018. Its objective is the promotion of measures of extracurricular youth education and youth work, for the purpose of furthering the development of the mental, psychic, physical, social, political, religious and ethical competencies of children and young people (§1). For funding recipients, the guidelines for the promotion of extracurricular youth education and youth work, which are based on the Federal Youth Promotion Act, are binding as well (Richtlinien zur Förderung der außerschulischen Jugenderziehung und Jugendarbeit).

Youth organisations in the sense of the Federal Act (§ 2) are voluntary associations with their own legal personality whose members are predominantly young people and whose main purpose is to represent and promote the interests of young people. Out-of-school youth education and youth work within the meaning of the Federal Act includes all appropriate youth education and training measures that supplement family upbringing or socialisation taking place in the private sphere of young people's lives and are provided outside the formal school education system or the services provided by public youth welfare.

Principles of youth work

The law defines such youth work offers as worthy of support, which stem from youth organisations, youth initiatives, youth groups and open youth work bodies, which in particularly orientate themselves towards the following principles (§3):

  • Attending to matters of concern for and the interests of young people
  • Co-determination and participation of young people in all areas of life
  • Responsibility, independence and the promotion of democracy
  • Promotion of innovative processes and projects
  • Personal development and the physical, emotional and intellectual development of young people
  • Promotion of young people’s tolerance, communication and peaceful coexistence as well as the promotion of mutual understanding in the domestic and international fields
  • Support of education which promotes communities and is human-rights oriented
  • Political- and citizenship education as well as religious- and ethics-related education for young people
  • Development of the social commitment of young people
  • Promotion of
    • lifestyle- and health-related education
    • vocational- and career-related education
    • generation-related education
    • development of the creative powers of young people, in order to facilitate their active participation in cultural life
    • equality of the sexes and
    • integration of people with disabilities
Funding Requirements
Funding for youth work programmes can be granted upon application to (§ 4):                                                                                                                                      

1. Associational youth organisations, youth initiatives and youth groups not organised as associations as well as institutions of open youth work, provided they are constituted as an association and

a) whose organisational statutes are in line with the commitment to the democratic Republic of Austria, with the fundamental values of peace, freedom and parliamentary democracy as well as human rights and the rule of law,

b) whose statutory purpose includes the representation of the interests of young people and is in line with the objectives of § 1,

c) whose statutes and activities are in line with the principles for extracurricular youth work according to § 3,

d) whose activities are not aimed at making a profit,

e) whose registered office is in Austria.

2. Youth initiatives, youth groups not organised in associations as well as institutions of open youth work, provided they are not constituted as an association and

a) their activities are compatible with the objectives of § 1,

b) whose activities are in line with the principles for extracurricular youth work according to § 3,

c) are not aimed at making a profit, and

d) at least one person of legal age or one legal entity guarantees the fulfilment of the funding conditions by signing the declaration of commitment.

A brief overview over the general requirements for the granting of a subsidy (§6):

(1) Basic funding shall be granted to youth organisations organised in associations,

  1. which, in accordance with their statutes, are formed for the entire federal territory and are represented in at least five federal provinces and the applicant youth organisation can credibly demonstrate a total of at least 3,000 members nationwide and, insofar as it is not a party-political youth organisation, has moreover existed for at least ten years,
  2. whose activities predominantly comprise services and offers of youth work and whose associational youth work follows a holistic, qualitative approach and is not only oriented towards a sub-area (e.g. aid measures, music, sports) of youth work and goes beyond the development of concrete abilities and skills,
  3. which perform nationwide coordination, planning and communication tasks,
  4. which offer training and further education measures for volunteers and full-time staff as well as services for members of the organisation,
  5. who represent the interests of young people,
  6. carry out continuous quality assurance of their work, and
  7. which do not receive funding from federal funds comparable to basic funding under this Act.
Quality assurance

The federal youth organisations applying for basic funding are obligated to conduct continuous quality assurance (Qualitätssicherung) according to § 6 para. 1 Z 6 of the Federal Youth Promotion Act and the additional Guidelines. Self-evaluation is proposed as the mode of action. Therefore, a row of measures, methods and standards have been installed.

A central statement of these cooperation projects is the recommendation of self-evaluation. A tool-set to for self-evaluation is provided online, containing a summary of theoretical principals, guidelines and a row of work tools.

According to the Youth Promotion Act, a quality assessment form must be handed in with funding application. Furthermore, the umbrella organisation of open youth work (bundesweites Netzwerk Offene Jugendarbeit) provides several publications and tools for quality assurance in open youth work:

Further information

Public financial support

The aim of Federal Youth Promotion Act is the financial support of measures for the education and upbringing of young people and of youth work outside the school sector. Therefore financial funding is provided according to the Federal Youth Promotion Act as well as by the Federal provinces and within the framework or ERASMUS+.

Federal funding

The Federal Youth Promotion Act determines the financial funding of measures of the extracurricular youth work and youth education governed by the Department for Families and Youth at the Federal Chancellery.

As basic funding for the associational youth work of youth organisations which fulfill the aforementioned requirements (leaving aside exceptions and more specific rules) shall be granted, based on the number of members credibly claimed (§7):

1. the amount of 14,534.6 euros for a membership of 3,000 to 10,000 young people,

2. the amount of 36 336.4 euros for a membership of 10 001 to 30 000 young people,

3. the amount of 72,672.8 euros for a membership of 30,001 to 80,000 young people,

4. the amount of 145,345.7 euros for a membership of more than 80,000 young people.

Three priorities are funded in 2021 and 2022:

  1. Competences and qualification
  2. Digitalisation/Media Literacy/E-Youthwork
  3. Intergenerational dialogue

All projects have to be participative, provide gender equity and include discriminated or underprivileged young people. Regarding the funding priorities, precise didactic, methodical and content aspects, which go beyond the general and fundamental effect of child and youth work, have to be designated.

Youth Promotion in the Federal Provinces

According to the federal constitution, the competence for extracurricular child and youth work rests with the authorities of the federal provinces. Thus, each province decides upon and implements its own funding for youth organisations. More information can be found at the respective provincial youth departments.


Co-financing which young applicants can use for their project ideas is available from e.g. the EU Youth Dialogue programme (EU-Jugenddialog).

Initiatives to increase the diversity of participants

Youth organisations address all young people and shall support and strengthen their development. Among the principles of youth work are the attending to matters of concern for and the interests of young people, the promotion of independence and personal development, the support of education, the development of the social commitment of young people, and the integration of people with disabilities. All projects shall be participative, provide gender equity and include discriminated or underprivileged young people.