2.7 Social inclusion through volunteering
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Support to young volunteers
Organisations and associations can choose to reimburse incurred expenses or pay fees to voluntary unpaid work in associations/organisations and unpaid board/committee members. If the organisation reimburses incurred expenses, the reimbursement is tax free. The legal framework specifies what types of expenses the organisation can choose to cover, for instance:
- Transportation in private car
- Other travelling expenses
- Additional expenses for meals in relation to one day arrangements for a minimum of five hours, such as sports competitions or matches played away from home (80 DKK pr. day = 10.7 EUR)
- Expenses for phone and internet (maximum 2450 DKK pr. year = 328.8 EUR)
- Expenses for administration, office supplies, postage, etc. (maximum 1 500 DKK pr. year = 201 EUR)
- Expenses for the acquisition, washing and maintenance of special clothing, for instance, sports clothing (maximum 2 050 DKK pr. year = 275 EUR)
- Alternatively, unpaid sports referees can be paid a tax-free allowance (250 DKK pr. match, maximum 500 DKK a day = 33.5 EUR and 67 EUR).
If the volunteer is paid a fee that exceed the state tariffs above the compensation is taxable.
Alternatively, organisations can reimburse disbursements on the basis of receipts from the volunteer.
Some voluntary activities are covered by insurance
Whether an organisation must take out industrial injury insurance or not depends on, for instance:
- Whether the volunteer is member of the organisation or not
- Whether the task of the volunteer is within the objectives of the organisation
- Whether there is an employment agreement
- Whether the organisation should hire labour if the volunteer had not done the job
If an organisation is obliged to take out an industrial injury insurance, the organisation should also register with the Labour Market Industrial Insurance that processes cases of work-related illness.
From July 1, 2017, volunteers in regional and municipal institutions can be covered by insurance
Volunteers in regional and municipal institutions are primarily covered by their private accident and third-party insurances. Municipalities are obliged to take out an industrial injury insurance when the conditions of the volunteer’s engagement are similar to ordinary employment.
However, from 2017, public institutions can take out industrial injury insurance (arbejdsskadeforsikring) and third-party insurance for all types of volunteers.
Recipients of unemployment benefits can do voluntary unpaid work 10 hours a week in an organisation or association without deduction in the benefit. Voluntary unpaid work is similar to ordinary employment. Recipients of unemployment benefits have no cap on participation in voluntary activities which are more flexible and not similar to ordinary employment, for instance, sorting clothing in a second hand shop.
Several actors provide information on volunteering in Denmark. FriSE (Volunteer Centres and Self-help Denmark) is a national member organisation of 86 local voluntary centres and self-help organisations. FriSe represents the local centres and facilitates the best conditions for the voluntary sector in Denmark. Among other things, the volunteer centres provide information on volunteering and helps specific groups at risk of exclusion become volunteers.
The state and municipalities can financially support voluntary activities. Section 18 in the Consolidation Act on Social Services (Serviceloven) requires municipalities to financially support voluntary social work and, thereby, possibly civil society organisations. These organisations can help promote participations of young volunteers with fewer opportunities. The municipalities are financially compensated for this in the form of an extra general grant (block grant) from the government.
Furthermore, governmental agencies disburse public funding to civil society organisations in various policy areas, for example, through discretionary grants.
Community building is, among other things, a result of a strong civil society. In Denmark, associations receiving funding from the Act on Non-Formal General Adult Education (Folkeoplysningsloven, LBK nr 1115 af 31/08/2018) and the Act on Receipts from the national lottery and football pools (Udlodningsloven, LOV nr 1532 af 19/12/2017 )play a vital role in this regard. This includes the Danish Youth Council (DUF), DIF and DGI which are mentioned as main actors in section 2.2.
Tackling societal challenges
National level initiatives have been established which can help improve and support young volunteers with fewer opportunities to engage in projects and volunteering in general.
In November 2021, the Danish Government and a majority of the Danish Parliament entered an agreement on a Civil Society Strategy for the years 2022-2025. The strategy will focus on enhanced cooperation with civil society in the development of the organisation of welfare. Through five local partnerships, a collaborative model is being tested for the purpose of increasing the participation of people in vulnerable positions in social communities, including volunteers. The local partnerships are made up of different civil society organisations as well as other relevant local actors, with the assignment of jointly finding local solutions to create more inclusive communities and contribute to solve societal challenges, such as loneliness.
Another measure is the ‘PUF Fund’ (Puljen for frivilligt socialt arbejde). It is a fund for voluntary social work for the benefit of socially disadvantaged people, through which the Minister of Social Affairs and Housing lends financial support to voluntary social organisations and societies.
National initiatives in Denmark concerning integration of refugees via the work of young volunteers primarily revolve around the Danish Refugee Council and Danish Red Cross and their youth organisations DFUNK and Red Cross Youth, respectively. In these organisations, young volunteers assist refugees of all ages with, among others, homework, finding a job, language training and cultural/systemic understanding of the Danish society.
Opportunities for solidarity also include democratic empowerment via courses and training, as well as social events such as cooking and eating together, organising trips and camps, playing sports and networking.