2.4 Youth Volunteering at national level
There is no specific national programme for youth volunteering.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports implements the national youth policy and provides institutional support through two national youth programmes, which are aimed at upbringing of socially responsible behaviour of young people in the country, and namely:
- The National Youth Programme (2021 – 2025) supports projects, among others, for organizing and carrying out voluntary initiatives in areas such as informal learning for acquiring skills and key competences, environment protection, leisure time, creativity and culture, promotion of healthy lifestyle, tolerance and European affiliation.
- The National Programme for Implementation of Youth Activities under article 10a of the Gambling Act (2023-2025) supports, among others, projects aimed at activating the participation of young people in different types of youth initiatives, including volunteering.
No public funding is provided for the implementation of youth voluntary activities only. The abovementioned national youth programmes are funded from the state budget. The amount of funds available for each programme is determined on annual basis with the State Budget Act for the relevant year. In 2022 and 2023, the funds available under the National Youth Programme (2021 – 2025) are in the amount of BGN 800 400 (approximately EUR 409 000). For the same years, the funds available under the other national programme – the National Programme for Implementation of Youth Activities under article 10a of the Gambling Act (2023-2025), are in the amount of BGN 6 000 000 (approximately EUR 3 067 000).
The youth analysis carried out for the purposes of the implementation of the National Youth Strategy 2010-2020 shows that in comparison with other countries (EU and non-EU), the number of young people who perform voluntary work is low. The reasons for the insufficient dissemination of volunteering in the country are determined by a number of factors, including family education, missing traditions, insufficient resources for funding of initiatives, lack of sufficient motivation, socioeconomic position and property status of young people, insufficient information for work of NGOs, lack of legal regulations, etc.
The analysis comes to the conclusion that in Bulgaria youth volunteering is related to donation of money, and to a lower extent, to any other type of activity.
The following findings are of particular interest:
- the share of young people who have not participated in charity initiatives is high – 38%. These are mainly young people in the age range 15 – 29 and young people living in rural areas.
- 38% of young people have participated in volunteering in Bulgaria during the last three years.
- 60% of young people have not participated.
- only 2% of young people have participated in volunteering abroad.
- most young people would participate in voluntary initiatives aimed at social activities involving people/ children in need.
- environment protection-related activities come second, and disasters and emergencies-related activities come third.
- data show that there are two groups of young people: those who would participate in volunteering on ad-hoc basis, in case of need, and those who would be permanently engaged in volunteering based on their interests.
- the need of systematic and regular collection of information and monitoring of youth volunteering data in the country in terms of number of volunteers, types of voluntary activities, etc., is clearly identified.
The last national representative sociological study among young people in Bulgaria was carried out in 2022 by Gallup International Balkan upon assignment of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. According to this study charity (32,2% of respondents state they have participated) and volunteering (27,2%) are still most widely disseminated forms of youth participation (even though the legislation in the country is still a step behind). Such data are further confirmed by the recent Eurobarometer study and show a kind of favourable trend in comparison to previous studies. However, the war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic, might have activated volunteering.
There are no policies/programmes/projects/initiatives in the field of youth volunteering at national level that identify specific target groups within the youth population, e.g. young people in transition between education and employment, young unemployed, young adults without formal qualifications whose participation in voluntary activities is sought.